Last October, #MeToo went viral. A year later, where are we? What has changed?
As Google’s Me Too Rising visualization shows, while there have been some ups and downs, #MeToo has become an enduring topic of public discourse.
It’s been both an exciting and a trying year for many survivors, advocates, and others active in the movement to end sexual violence. On some hard days, it feels like it’s been all for naught, or like we’re up against something too big, too entrenched. Watching Christine Blasey Ford testify at the Brett Kavanaugh hearings felt for some like we were back exactly where we were in 1991 watching Anita Hill testify at the Clarence Thomas hearings. Like Thomas, Kavanaugh still got confirmed.
On those hard days, I hold on to the bright spots we see every day here at BARCC. The resilience of survivors, the inspiring notes from supporters, the camaraderie and care we share with our coworkers and communities.
The truth is that things are hard—and there are so many reasons to be hopeful. Here are three:
1. More people are reaching out for support
Since the resurgence of #MeToo last October, we’ve seen substantial increases in people reaching out to BARCC for support and services. In December 2017–January 2018, we saw a 110% increase in calls requesting legal advocacy and a 43% increase in requests for counseling compared to the year before.
These increases don’t mean more violence is happening—they mean that more people are reaching out to seek support. Each one of those calls and requests for services is an opportunity to listen and believe and empower survivors in their healing.
Comparing May–July 2017 to May–July of 2018, the total number of people receiving services went up 15%, hotline calls increased 39%, and counseling sessions went up 30%.
Just two weeks ago, during the Friday after the Kavanaugh hearings at which Ford testified, we received as many hotline calls by 11:00 a.m. as we usually do in a whole day—a 400% increase at the end of the day, and calls stayed at a steady 200% increase over normal volume over the weekend. That week, we had a 150% increase in requests for our free and confidential services.
2. People are actually talking about sexual violence
If what the media reports on is any indication, people are talking about sexual violence more now than we’ve seen in our 45-year history. Comparing October 2016–August 2017 to October 2017–August 2018, the number of media requests we received went up 208%.
As more people are talking about it, we’re able to advance more nuanced conversations—like who is left out of the #MeToo narrative, the pressure that survivors might feel to share their stories, the reality that sexual violence affects people of all genders, and how trauma affects the brain.
All of this is not sufficient to achieve our mission—but they are necessary steps. If you’re talking about sexual violence, you’re one step closer to taking action to end sexual violence.
3. People are taking action and investing in change
We have new people joining the movement to end sexual violence every day. We’ve seen many new people donating to BARCC for the first time! Which is hearterning, because with such drastic increases in demand for our services, the need for support continues to grow. This kind of generosity is absolutely critical for the day-to-day work of culture change, which includes having successfully pressured a major corporation to remove the name of a reported offender from its casino. And as more survivors of all genders speak out, we were also able to develop a resource to support them in navigating the decision whether or not to.
Last April, we saw more people than ever show up for survivors at our annual Walk for Change. Since October of last year, approximately 400 people, including interns, have reached out to us about volunteering. The day before Christine Blasey Ford testified, 1,600 men signed a full-page crowdfunded ad in the New York Times supporting Ford and honoring Anita Hill. And people keep showing up to rally after rally after rally.
We invite you to join the movement as well by contributing to BARCC, volunteering, sharing our message on social media—or all of the above!
Into the next phase of #MeToo
We’re nowhere near done. Yes, we have so much more work to do—and we’ve come so far. Where do we go next?
We focus on prevention and bystander strategies at work and everywhere. We create more pathways for the most vulnerable folks to come forward. We all take on preventing sexual violence as a community responsibility. We all join survivors in making healing and prevention a priority. It’s always been ours, and we know it’s yours—now we make it everyone’s.