“Me Too” social media movement raises Bethel awareness for sexual assault and harassment
Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash “Me too.” These two words are causing awareness of the great epidemic of sexual assault. They are two words that are causing people to realize that we have an issue that needs to be solved. The “Me Too” movement is designed to raise awareness of the issue and the need for it to be solved. Victims of sexual assault and harassment are joining together to let the world know the importance of stopping this crime. Bethel has been a part of this movement, too. The administration has stated that it will not tolerate sexual assault, and the college has rules in place and security that prevents this from occurring. Bethel also has a program and resources to help those who have gone through sexual assault and step alongside them and comfort them. Bethel states in its online policy statement, "The college is committed to the full, peaceable participation of all of its members in the educational endeavor it fosters.... and will not tolerate any threats or acts of sexual harasment, sexual assault, sexual violence, or stalking." It also goes on to say, "A report of sexual harassment, assault or violence will be taken seriously, promptly investigated and addressed." Bethel recently launched a group called More Than Survivors, which will be meeting throughout the year. It is a support group and a place where Bethel will equip those who have gone through abuse or other traumas. There is also a student-led sexual abuse awareness week November 13 through 17, including chapel speakers and panel discussions on the issue. Bethel also has severe rules in place to punish those who have committed abuse or sexual assault, while it also balances the importance to support those who have gone through either. The “Me Too” movement has garnered quite a following on social media, but how has it impacted the Bethel Bubble? “I think it's a wonderful movement,” said Spencer French, junior Christian ministries and philosophy double major. “I think it's one that is focused around facing the terrible reality that women and men face in this society, which is sexual assault (and) sexual harrassment. It's unfortunate and tragic, really, how many people in this culture who have been molested or sexually assaulted or even harrassed, and it's wonderful, and again, heart-wrenching, but also really inspiring to see these brave victims come forward and share their stories and honesty with what they've gone through in their lives.” “I think that people shouldn't be ashamed if they want to share their stories, or if they don't want to share their stories, I kind of think it's what their own personal opinion...but I think whatever people decide to do, we should support them with it,” said Cassie Seager, junior nursing major. Still, some have raised concerns, not with the message itself, but with the method in which it’s being presented. “I think it's a good way to kind of show people that this is an issue, and that...a lot of people kind of hear about it, and don't realize that it happens to more people than they think it does, because people don't talk about it because it's a sensitive thing, and so I think it's good for people to get the word out about it,” said Trina Uzlik, junior American sign language interpreting major. “But…I don't know that doing a social media ‘me too’ thing is the best way to go about it, but I think it's been a good eye-opener for some people.” Uzlik elaborated her concerns a bit more. “(People) don't take (social media) too seriously, and so having a social media thing on a serious issue, it doesn't balance, because people don't take social media seriously,” she said. Still, Uzlik does feel that the movement itself is a good starting point for larger conversations. “I think it was a good thing to open people's eyes,” she said. “…I think it will be a stepping stone, but isn't the actual thing that's going to get people to do something about it quite yet, if that makes sense.” French expressed similar concerns, along with hope, about the effectiveness of a social media campaign. One major concern Bethel students seem to have about this issue is simply raising more awareness . It’s important for those who have gone through assault to come forward and speak out. “Social media campaigns are wonderful and terrible...they're wonderful because they help us address and help us begin conversations about really serious things, but they're terrible because often we mistake those beginning of conversations as ends in themselves. This is only the beginning of the conversations that need to be had, but I think it's wonderful that people are so courageously stepping out and speaking truth and being honest about their stories, and I hope that from this, we can go and have one-on-one, group conversations, whether it’s at schools or churches or wherever,” said French. Another effect this movement is having on students is changing thinking and perception of the issue as a whole. “It showed me that sexual abuse isn't just situations, necessarily,” said Uzlik. “It can happen to anybody, like it's not something that happens to people in abusive relationships, not just specifically those people, and people when they were children and their father abused them...but it can happen to anyone in any situation.” “I realized that it’s not just things you read and hear anymore, it’s almost everybody you talk to has some sort of experience with it,” said Seager. “I've always been pretty passionate about this, at least in the past few years, and so it hasn't necessarily changed my views, because I already knew how drastic of an issue this was, but that being said, it definitely reinforced those views,” said French. Not only is the “Me Too” movement a way to raise awareness, but it is also a way to help the victims heal. Burying it inside is not easy, and can cause self-doubt and self-harm. The “Me Too” movement is much more than just realizing the massive amounts of people who have been abused, but it also helps those who are hurting. It begins to show people that they don’t have to do this alone. There is help out there, open arms willing to receive anyone who is hurting.