#METOO proves we’re not all alone

#MeToo, the campaign rebooted by actress Alyssa Milano last month, has made waves across social media inviting those who have been the target of sexual assault and abuse to help let the world know that this is not only a consistent, ongoing issue but one with a larger scope than most people would imagine.
On Oct. 15, Milano sent out a message on Twitter stating, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
This opened the floodgates and elicited tens of thousands of responses, with some victims just using the phrase “me too” and others describing their own stories of sexual assault and abuse.
Celebrities taking part in the campaign have included Anna Paquin, Debra Messing, Laura Dreyfuss and Lady Gaga.
Gaga has joined in a recent campaign with former Vice President Joe Biden focused on bringing awareness to sexual assault called “It’s on us,” urging people who see sexual abuse happening to report it right away.
Twitter tried to add to the forcefulness behind the campaign by promoting it on its “Moments” section to “empower nd support the voices on our platform, especially those that speak truth to power,” the organization said.
This isn’t the first campaign to shine a light on the subject of sexual harassment and assault, but it does show the world that sexual assault and/or harassment happens a lot more often than the average person may know.
Every day since the New York Times exposed Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein as a predator, tmore and more stories of abuse have surfaced – from Hollywood, to Washington, D.C., to India, to the Oregon state capitol in Salem.
It boils down to this, ladies and gentlemen: We have a real problem, not only in our own society, but in the world at large.
Half the world’s population is targeted, harassed, assaulted, abused and violated by the other half. Women are raped, molested, and verbally sieged daily, and it’s something that has to be stopped.
Thankfully, there are some things we can all start doing to help curb this rampant abuse that #MeToo is shining a spotlight on – both at Mt. Hood and in our personal lives, off-campus.
At MHCC students or staff may report any such incident or concern to Felisciana Peralta, Title IX coordinator for the campus. A Title IX investigator will be assigned from her office, if appropriate. The Human Resources office also may offer assistance.
For immediate or urgent help, contact Mt. Hood’s Public Safety office in Room 2330, or at 503-491-7310 (-7911 in an emergency).
MHCC teams with many outside organizations to provide help. For more, see: mhcc.edu/publicsafety/sexualviolence.

What you should know
A support group all women should know is RAINN, (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). RAINN is America’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
RAINN’s website offers a new tool called the Prevention Navigator, designed to help each college locate and implement the best sexual assault prevention programs that works for them, which may be of great help to those in charge of assault prevention programs at MHCC. The site, rainn.org, also offers ways to get involved with assault prevention.
The real help RAINN offers to women, men and children, though, is its hotline, which offers free help and advice including:
Confidential support from a trained staff member
Support finding a local health facility trained to care for survivors of sexual assault and that offers services such as:

  • Sexual assault forensic exams
  • Someone to help you talk through what happened
  • Local resources that can assist with your next steps toward healing and recovery
  • Referrals for long term support in your area
  • Information about the laws in your community
  • Basic information about medical concerns

RAINN offers some tips on how to help women you think may be at risk for (imminent) sexual assault, saying the key to keeping your friends safe is finding a way that fits the situation, and your own comfort level.
Remember, stepping in can make all the difference, but it should never put your own safety at risk.
Strategies include:
First, try to create a distraction.
Cut off the (problematic) conversation with a diversion like, “Let’s get pizza, I’m starving,” or “This party is lame. Let’s try somewhere else.”
Bring out fresh food or drinks and offer them to everyone at the party, including the people you are concerned about.
Start an activity that draws other people in, like a game, a debate, or a dance party.
Ask the (affected) person directly, in upfront fashion, “Are you all right? Do you need help? Would you like me to stay with you?”
Although you might not feel like you can interject on your own, you can always ask others to help out. Ask someone to approach with or for you, or try to find out if the person in danger has a friend you feel more comfortable approaching with a question, like “Your friend looks drunk – are they all right?”
#MeToo gives women an opportunity to stand up publicly and say, ‘Hey, I’ve been a victim myself, you’re not alone,’ and that’s an important voice to have.
If you’re not comfortable using #MeToo, you can always tell a friend, a teacher, a parent or the police.
No one deserves to be abused, no one deserves to be mistreated.

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