DALLAS (CBS11) – Even if you are not a victim, you’ve probably seen the two-word rallying cry: #MeToo.
Tens of thousands of women—and some men—are taking to social media at the encouragement of actress Alyssa Milano to say that sexual harassment and assault are far more common than many may realize, or want to admit.
“Roughly one in three women has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace,” says Jan Langbein, CEO of Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support. “The nature of the behavior at its core is exactly the same– it’s about power and control in the home and it’s about power and control in the workplace.”
While the one in three figure may be shocking to some, Erin Acosta believes the figure falls short.
“I would say it’s more like three out of three women, they just don’t know what sexual harassment is,” says Acosta, a Dallas yoga instructor. “People think it has be crude, vulgar, or involve physical touching. That doesn’t always have to be the case, often they’re just trying to see what they can get away with.”
Acosta say she speaks from experience. “I’ve had men try to physically touch me, women try to physically touch me. I wasn’t putting up with it. I even contacted authorities before.”
Although that is the correct response, fear and silence are far more common when confronting abusers.
“There’s a shame that comes with that, and it sealed my lips for a long, long time,” says local singer Hilary Roberts. Roberts, a self-described survivor says she understands the fear; but, can also assure women that they can get through it. “So I encourage women to step out and speak out…even if something doesn’t come of it, other women will be made to feel that they’re not alone.”
The “MeToo” hashtag has been circulated more than a half million times in just 24 hours, so it would appear that that mission has been accomplished.
“Speak up. Speak out,” says Quendar Price in Dallas. Price says she was harassed earlier in her career and reported it because it was a matter of integrity. “No matter who it is,if you’re as good as you say you are, you’ll get another job.”
Meanwhile, Langbein says the social media campaign gives silenced victims a voice—and encouragement.
“Across this country women are saying–women and men– are saying ‘this is not acceptable behavior, I have zero tolerance for it, and it is time to stop’.”