One in four New Hampshire women have been sexually assaulted. One in twenty New Hampshire men reported being sexually assaulted, 68% before their 18th birthday.
According to the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, over 14,000 victims of domestic and sexual violence were served by NH crisis centers in 2016.
Locally, nine hundred individuals came to Turning Points Network in the last year, directly or indirectly affected by domestic or sexual violence. Survivors included young moms and dads with children, parents calling on behalf of teens, single individuals of all ages, and experiences ranged from physical and sexual assault to child abuse, stalking and human trafficking for sex.
Now the #MeToo movement is encouraging survivors to come forward who might never have reported which will likely push the percentages of domestic and sexual violence even higher for 2017.
Jessica Bennett, gender editor for the New York Times, writes “the hashtag #MeToo has exploded on social media as a vehicle for women to share their stories. For perhaps the first time in history, powerful men are falling, like dominos, and vulnerable women are being believed.”
The outing and firing of high-profile individuals also sends a compelling message to the corporations who support the networks, the entertainment industry and politics because corporations historically have included the same kinds of abuse of the powerful over the vulnerable.
Many are surprised at the widespread sexual harassment and assault that’s recently come to light – not just in the media/entertainment complex, but in our schools and universities, our churches, politics and government. If we really look at our society, however, there’s a subculture with a long history of abuse of power that has pervaded all systems, congregations and assemblies.
The way to change begins with each of us and our families and immediate communities by not tolerating offensive behaviors or language, such as jokes that trivialize abuse and diminish respect. We can define what constitutes abuse, promote respect and make safe spaces for people to disclose.
And for the skeptics among us, very few people ever make up these kinds of accusations, because disclosing comes with the kind of unforgiving spotlight where truths and untruths ultimately get sorted out.
Cultures and the perceptions that drive them can be changed. #MeToo has started the conversation among us at all levels. Turning Points Network is committed to keeping the conversation going and to being part of the change – in our offices in Claremont and Newport, at our emergency shelter, through our 24-hour crisis and support line, and in the violence-prevention programs we bring to Sullivan County schools.
OUR TURN is a public service series made available by Turning Points Network in celebration of its 40th anniversary of providing violence-prevention education programs in our schools, services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and helping people move from the darkness of abuse toward the light of respect, healing and hope. For information contact 1.800.639.3130 or www.turningpointsnetwork.org or find us on Facebook.