#MeToo raising awareness on sexual harassment and assault

#MeToo raising sexual harassment and assault awareness

Millions of posts on Twitter and Facebook have now shed light on the scope of sexual harassment and assault.

Just like online, many women Eyewitness News talked with Tuesday had their own story.

"I was just a child at the time," Debbie Tye said.

"And we kept on asking them to leave us alone, and they wouldn't do it, my friend Beth had to pull out a taser," Liz Schindler recalled of an incident in the French Quarter.

Sexual harassment and assault could happen anywhere and with anyone. In some cases, it's a person the assault victim thought they knew. 

"He seemed like a nice guy, at first everything was you know, at first everything was actually great."

More women and men have been sharing their experiences because of a recent social media campaign.  The campaign took off after actress Alyssa Milano tweeted "#metoo" and encouraged others to do the same, helping people to see the magnitude of the problem. The post has made Debbie Tye open up about what happened to her as a young girl. 

"It was between the ages of 5 and 8, I was molested by someone that was close to the family," Tye said.

Kristen Crain's rape case happened more recently, but like Tye, she also finds it hard to discuss. 

"Even after I was being treated for injuries and I had filed a report and I was having panic attacks left and right, it took me still weeks," Crain said.

The movement has now spread all around the world, but what does that do? Eyewitness asked that question to Laurie O'Brien, a professor at Tulane University's Department of Psychology.

"So knowing that a celebrity may have been targeted by sexual harassment may not have a big affect but if it's somebody you know and you take their perspective, and you start to feel empathy for them... Has a huge effect on increasing recognition and awareness," O'Brien said.

But will the campaign stop perpetrators?

"It's possible that somebody could be thinking about harassing somebody and remember that a friend of theirs had been assaulted, had been harassed could make them stop."

How much of an impact this campaign will have remains to be seen, for now, it's opening up more dialogue, dialogue Liz Schindler says is much needed.

"What really resonates with me about this whole thing is, that a five-letter hashtag is taken more seriously than we are," Schindler.

Sexual harassment and assault is not male exclusive. If you need help or in a crisis, you can text 741741 for help, and someone will contact you. 

Tarana Burke started the hashtag 10 years ago, but it wasn't until recently after the Harvey Weinstein scandal that it skyrocketed to popularity.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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