Rape counselors say ‘Me Too’ campaign empowers victims speak out

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A sexual assault awareness campaign is making waves on social media. The “Me Too” campaign has encouraged victims of sexual harassment or assault to post those two words on their account, indicating to others that they’re not alone.

Actress Alyssa Milano kicked off the hashtag on social media Sunday afternoon.

The social media campaign may have started in Hollywood but its effects are being felt in the Youngstown area, too.

“If someone that’s powerful or wealthy said, ‘This happened to me, too,’ I think it surprises some people but it helps make that impact,” said Jennifer Gray, with Compass Family and Community Services in Youngstown.

From there, the hashtag exploded with thousands of everyday people bringing their stories of assault to the social media forefront. Gray said that’s exactly what needed to happen.

“When on your own Twitter feed, your own Facebook feed…having your friends say, ‘Me too,’ you realize that it hits a lot closer to home. You realize that it’s personal,” Gray said.

Counselors say the campaign gives victims a platform to express themselves instead of suffering in silence and holds those who blame victims accountable.

“I think it’s actually an excellent opportunity to start something to help change the culture of sexual assault and how it’s being looked at,” said Dawn Powell, with the Rape Crisis Center in Youngstown.

Both resource centers said they expect their numbers to increase because of this campaign. They hope victims see that they are supported — both online and on the ground.

“You see that people are rallying behind you. It just kind of sets a tone for the idea that change can come,” Powell said.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence and looking for help, Compass Family and Community Services offers counseling and support groups for people who have experienced trauma.

For more information about the center’s resources, visit Compass’ website.