In wake of the sexual assault accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, the hashtag ‘#MeToo’ has gone viral across social media and inspired many people, including several Temple University students, to come forward and speak openly about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault.
Senior Katie Rink told Temple Update that she was sexually assaulted by a friend when she was twelve years old. She recalls feeling helpless and scared to tell her other friends about what happened because she thought she would be accused of lying and isolated from the group.
“I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t tell my parents. I didn’t press charges,” Rink said, “I went along with it for a while because I was so scared.”
Rink saw some of her friends posting #MeToo messages on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. She had not shared her story with many people but after seeing the outpouring of support for those people who shared their stories, Rink also decided to post #MeToo on her Facebook profile.
“I didn’t do anything until five and a half years later,” Rink said, “From then on out, I haven’t stopped speaking about it.”
Rink is not the only student using social media to bring light to the issue of sexual assault. Junior Yasmine Hamou said that posting #MeToo on social media helps survivors realize their self worth.
“The #MeToo campaign helps women, young women especially, say ‘I don’t have to excuse that. I don’t have to let some guy grope me or do whatever they want,'” Hamou said.
Junior Laura Smythe, who also posted #MeToo on Facebook, is hopeful that the social media movement will lead to large-scale change in the way society views survivors of sexual assault, particularly on college campuses.
“Through campaigns like this and survivors being accepted and having their stories told it will create a better culture,” Smythe said.
While Rink said that talking about sexual assault can be a very upsetting subject, she is happy to see so many survivors interacting online and sharing their stories.
“A lot of people use social media,” Rink said, “It brings to light the issue that it’s not just me, it’s #MeToo.”