BEND, OR -- A local non-profit dedicated to helping people affected by sexual and domestic violence, hopes a recent social media campaign will lead to solutions.
Following revelations involving movie producer Harvey Weinstein, actress Alyssa Milano started the #MeToo campaign for men and women to speak out against sexual harassment everywhere - not just in Hollywood. According to Erin Rook, with Saving Grace
, "'#MeToo' emerged as part of an effort for, primarily women, but also people of other genders, to share their experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault and highlight that this is something that happens to all kinds of people."
Rook says Oregon statistics show oppression is common. "Most women, and many other folks, have also experienced sexual harassment or assault in their lifetimes. In terms of sexual assault, specifically, we know that over half of Oregon women and girls experience that at some point in their lifetime. So, it's a problem. And clearly, the fact that so many people are being drawn to the hashtag just shows how common and pervasive of a problem it is."
The "me too" hashtag isn't the only one raising awareness of sexual harassment, "An emerging 'I Have' hashtag that's coming up, primarily posted by men, is a way to kind of own up or be transparent about the ways in which they may have perpetuated these things." Rook tells KBND News, "I think it's really encouraging to see the ways in which, not only the ways people who've experienced this kind of harassment or violence are speaking up, but the ways that, particularly men, are speaking up to say 'hey, I have contributed to this and I'm going to do better'." Saving Grace has a Men Against Violence group that meets once a month at Bluebird Cafe in Downtown Bend.
Rook believes being honest about treating people with respect is a good way to combat harassment and abuse and that social media is an excellent place to communicate. For those needing more, Saving Grace has a 24-hour helpline (541-389-7021 or 866-504-8992) and several programs designed to help.