MADISON, Wis - A social media hashtag is starting conversations about sexual assault. This is a hashtag that is not just trending nationally but is prompting women and men in southern Wisconsin to share their stories through the social media campaign.
It's been decades since Sorya Asija has experienced harassment, but the impacts she still notices the impacts in her daily life.
"It impacted me throughout my life, to where I couldn’t trust people," she said. "It helps to release something inside of you. It changes something inside of you being able to speak up."
As women and men across the nation are posting their stories of sexual assault and harassment using #MeToo, Asija was encouraged to share her own story.
"This is the first time I've told my husband," she said.
Lilada Gee knows what it feels like to speak out against sexual assault. As the founder of Lilada's Livingroom, a support program to help women of color who are victims of sexual abuse, she has shared her own story about the abuse she suffered as a child.
"It means voice, it means freedom and that's one of the most important parts of healing," Gee said.
Gee said while the #MeToo trend can help victims share their stories and feel comforted, it can also become a trigger for women. Kelly Moe Litke, associate director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, agrees there are both benefits and disadvantages.
"This movement can be really empowering for people to name what happened to them and call out the issue of sexual violence. it can also be triggering for other survivors," Litke said.
The massive response across the nation to #MeToo demonstrated what many survivors already know: an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds and one in six women have been raped.
"One of the biggest reasons people don't sexual harassment is because it is not taken seriously.... We can start by making sure we have work place policies about sexual harassment. We can create environments where people feel safe and supported, she said.
Asija hopes the meaning behind the hashtag will not leave people's minds after they scroll through their timeline.
"We want to set an example for our future children. This should not happen again. There has to be a change," Asija said.
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