Alaskan women post 'Me Too' for sexual assault/harassment awareness
A social media campaign called "#MeToo" is asking women to stand up and be counted if they've experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault. Alaskan women are among the tens of thousands who are responding.
It started as a tweet by actress Alyssa Milano after so many actresses came forward to say they'd experienced sexual harassment by Hollywood studio head Harvey Weinstein. Milano wanted to show people how big the problem really is by encouraging anyone who's experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault to tweet "Me Too" or post it on their Facebook page.
Amy Bell is an Anchorage resident who said she was happy to put it on her Facebook page as soon as she saw her first "Me Too" post.
"I jumped on it immediately," said Bell.
Bell, who is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, said she's learned recently about the power of sharing your story.
"When I originally reached out, I was not believed by the people I told," said Bell. "So I carried that sense of deep shame for many years. It wasn't until last year in 2016 that I really started being more open about speaking about my experiences."
This past April, Bell took her story to a new level. She started photographing victims of sexual assault for a project she called "Changing the Dialogue". She wanted to start a new conversation about sexual violence and said she believes the "Me Too" campaign has simular aims.
"I so identified with their message of ending the stigma of talking about your sexual assault," said Bell.
But not all who posted, jumped on the "Me Too" bandwagon as quickly. Sofia Fouquet said she was hesitant at first.
"Like many people, I had seen all the posts on Facebook over the last day or so," said Fouquet. "But I paused, thinking, I don't really need to add my voice to this because so many people already have it out there. And really, I'm not sure that my posting will make a difference."
Fouquet said what changed her mind is when she saw a post by her sister that raised troubling questions.
"How will this affect my credibility and reputation?" said Fouquet, reading from her post. "If I say it, will they think that I deserved it?"
Fouquet said she decided to post after realizing that her sister could go public despite her fears.
"I thought that I can't stand silent knowing that a single post from one person that matters to me has effected me so much," said Fouquet. "Maybe I can do the same and help someone else by being brave enough to post on social media."
Bell said one thing that helped her were the positive messages that came after women shared their stories in her Changing the Dialogue project. She keeps the hand written words of encouragement close by and said sheds love to share them with anyone else who has posted "Me Too."