The #MeToo movement has created an atmosphere where survivors are more likely to be seen, heard, and believed. Sexual harassment and assault is all too common and while some men have taken a stand against sexual violence in the era of #MeToo, it’s a great opportunity for even more men to join the conversation. As women and men come forward about their experiences with harassment and assault, it’s vital that allies of every gender embrace this time to listen to each other’s stories, and hold each other accountable in preventing this kind of violence and aggression.
During April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, one of our target audiences consisted of self-identifying males in hopes of creating allies of the #MeToo movement. Waymakers provided volunteer opportunities with our Sexual Assault Victim Services (SAVS) hotline and hospital partners, reaching out to local high school and college campuses with prevention strategies, and encouraging male athletic departments to take a pledge, creating a culture of consent.
Waymakers promotes a strategy which focuses on involving everyone in primary violence prevention. We have also been actively educating our community that many who identify as males, may also be survivors and share that our services are available to them as well. It’s vital to create a space in this movement for men, as survivors and allies; there is room for all genders in the fight against sexual assault.
Additionally, throughout April multi-colored T-shirts hung on clotheslines on college campuses and at various community events in Orange County. The Waymakers 18th Annual Clothesline Projects is one way Waymakers is helping victims of violence find a voice. The Project has more than 1,000 t-shirts, each telling a unique experience of victimization and survival, expressing the emotions and messages of individuals impacted by crime. This moving testament to courage and survival speaks loudly on behalf of victims who have sought help from our Sexual Assault Victim Services and Victim Assistance Programs. The Clothesline Project in Orange County began in 2001 with just eight t-shirts and now in its 18th year gives a voice to the unheard stories of hundreds of women and men affected by violence and sexual assault.
Program Director Vanessa Reyna was recently interviewed by The Orange County Register about the Clothesline Project. She told of the emotional and empowering process of allowing victims to break the silence and speak out against violence. Click here to read more.