#MeToo's Impact on Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse

Patricia Hart, Executive Director, WomanSpace in Mercer County, shares how the #MeToo movement has helped advance the conversation on domestic violence and sexual abuse.

6/2/18 #704






"Welcome back to Life & Living. The Me Too movement has sparked a national dialogue about sexual violence, and really, it's empowered many women to come forward and share their stories. The sad realization is just how many there are. Well Patricia Hart is here with me now. She's a licensed clinical social worker, and Executive Director of Womanspace in Mercer County, New Jersey. Welcome to the program. Thank you. Thanks for having me. Absolutely. Before we get into the Me Too movement, just tell us, what is Womanspace? Womanspace is an agency that provides support for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. We do that in a myriad of ways. Shelter, counseling, we work with human trafficking victims, so any kind of abuse, any kind of interpersonal abuse. We're there to provide that kind of support for the victims. The Me Too movement really has created an energy, and I think a feeling, in our country, where women feel like they can share their stories. But this is nothing new to you is it? I think, to some people, it's surprising to hear how prevalent this issue is. You're not surprised? No. No. We're not surprised. I think the piece of the Me Too movement, and the woman who started the Me Too movement, which... it seems like it's recent, but she started it about, I think, about 12 years ago, right? That's right. And she started it for women of color who were marginalized, who didn't really have a voice, feeling that, although sexual violence, domestic violence too, it doesn't really discriminate. But the response to it seemed to. So she created Me Too as a way for women of color, any marginalized woman really, to have a forum to speak up. However, it became such... kind of a general movement, and there were so many women, women of color, white women, middle-class women, all women, who really felt the need to not be alone in their abuse anymore. Why have women previous to this really not come forward? What have been some of... the risks, I guess, of coming forward? The reporting of sexual assault, specific, is so low compared to the incident itself. And there are many many reasons. And historically, once you report sexual abuse, you report a rape, you report any sexual assault, oftentimes the focus becomes the victim. What were you wearing? Where were you? Were you drinking? Why were you in that place? Why weren't you taking care of yourself? What's wrong with that? What... what's wrong with that? It's backwards, right? So no one's saying, "How dare he? How dare? How dare he think that he can get away with this?" They were saying, "Well maybe if you were just wanting... if you were just..."