YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The words “Me Too” have completely changed social media over the last few months.
The sexual assault awareness campaign shifted the way sexual assault and harassment are viewed and dealt with but has anything changed for victims here in the Valley?
Local counseling organizations say “Me Too” has made an impact. Counselors at COMPASS Rape Crisis and Counseling Center say their call volume spiked after the “Me Too” campaign. Counselors started hearing from all types of victims, those who were assaulted years ago and some that didn’t realize they were victims until they saw the campaign.
“It allows people to recognize that it’s not just me, and it gives them the opportunity to actually say I am a victim, and it gives them the power to actually move forward in terms of how they choose to manage what has happened to them,” said Dawn Powell, counselor at COMPASS Rape Crisis and Counseling Center.
COMPASS emphasizes that sexual assault and sexual harassment aren’t new and that “Me Too” went viral because of celebrity support.
Counselors say it’s important to be able to utter those two words, but the healing doesn’t stop there. Even though they’ve gotten more calls from victims and the “Me Too” campaign has offered solidarity online, their support groups often sit empty. The fear of being stigmatized and dismissed keeps many victims from sharing their story.
“With the “Me Too” movement, it has given women courage, but at the same time, there are people who still don’t come forward and still don’t report. I believe a lot of it has to do with what the consequences will be,” Powell said. “Victim blaming, the fact that they know that they won’t be believed, it creates silence.”
Powell says that one of the best-proven ways to manage victimization is through counseling, whether it be group or individual. Those sessions give victims agency, which was taken from them during the assault.
COMPASS will continue to provide counseling services and support groups. They believe that all victims need a safe and confidential space to speak about their assault in order to move forward.
If you know somebody who could benefit from these services, call COMPASS at (330) 782-3936.