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Middle TN women join #MeToo social media posts bringing forward sexual assault victims

PHOTO: MGN/janeb13 / Pixabay

Middle Tennessee women joined others nationwide on Monday by posting 'Me too' on social media to bring to light the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment.

Those two words were posted repeatedly on social media to bring to light just how many victims are out there.

"I saw a lot of my friends posting it, and I was shocked by how many of them and who it was,” Alyssa LaHaie said.

“At first I didn't know what it was about, and then when I started reading about it I was like 'Oh I'm a ‘me too’ also,’” Tammy Sullivan said.

The posts are a way for women to come out and say ‘I, too, have been a victim of sexual harassment or assault. The message is a public way to say ‘you are not alone.’

“I think it's a way for women to step out," Abbey Block said. "It's a bold way to do it, but it's a comfortable way to do it."

“They weren't explicit about what it was, but they would post little things that indicated what happened to them,” Alyssa LaHaie said. "It was wonderful to see the support, but it was also devastating to see just how many people it effects."

Jessica Labenberg is the advocacy director of the Sexual Assault Center in Nashville. She said while the posts can be therapeutic for some survivors, it's not for everyone.

“The term that gets used a lot within our practice area is it can be re-traumatizing," Labenberg said. "It can be re-triggering for someone to have to tell their story over and over.”

Labenberg said the more people feel comfortable talking about sexual assault, the more comfortable they'll feel reporting it which can lead to prevention.

“To let them know we believe them and that any questioning we have, any doubt we have, we push from our minds and we believe the survivor,” Labenberg said. “The person we want to hold accountable and ask the questions of is the offender.”

The messages of “me too” are also being posted by a lot of celebrities, with big stars like Lady Gaga, Sheryl Crow, and Rosario Dawson all taking part.

If you or anyone you know needs help, call the Sexual Assault Center's crisis hotline at 1-800-879-1999.

How it started

Twitter was flooded with tales of sexual assault Sunday after actress Alyssa Milano sparked the trending hashtag "#MeToo."

"Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote "Me too" as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem," Milano wrote. "If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet."

Thousands of men and women responded to the post, seizing the opportunity to share their stories of assault or show solidarity.

The idea comes as film mogul Harvey Weinstein faces dozens of accusations of sexual assault.

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