#MeToo shines light on sexual assault in DC area

Hashtag 'Me Too.' Those two words are echoing across social media to speak out against sexual harassment and assault.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - #MeToo is a hashtag echoing across social media to speak out against sexual harassment and assault.

From Twitter and Facebook, women are sharing their personal stories.

The 'Me Too' movement was launched years ago by Tarana Burke, an activist in Philadelphia. 

Actress Alyssa Milano helped bring attention to the movement on Sunday by asking victims to post 'Me Too' to show how big of a problem sexual harassment and assault are. 

RELATED: Actress asks if others have been harassed by using #MeToo on Twitter

All of this came on the heels of a report that showed a major college in D.C. facing the highest number of reported rapes they have had in years.

The numbers were from 2016.

George Washington University released its annual security report last month that showed a higher number of robberies, weapons, and rapes on or around the Foggy Bottom campus last year. 

There was a total of 25 reported rape cases in 2016 which is the highest it has been since reporting criteria changed three years ago.

“It could be a good thing that people feel more comfortable reporting, or it could be that there is an increase in sexual harassment and assault which would be consistent with the rise in hate-based harassment across the city and across the country year because of the political climate,” Jessica Raven, executive director of Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), said.

Raven’s organization that fights to end sexual harassment and assault.

The team joined millions of people using the ‘Me Too’ hashtag to bring awareness and fight the problem.

Women all over the county told their stories of coming face to face with assault and harassment.

CASS has collected more than 1,000 of these stories over the years and posted them to a blog called “My Streets, Too.”

Raven said the accounts illustrate that the problem is real and exists in the D.C. area.

“We know that from some of the stories that have been shared from the data that street harassment is backed by the threat that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime,” Raven explained.

Raven believes there has not been enough done to track local data of sexual assault and harassment.

The DC City Council is reviewing legislation that may help spark change by creating a street harassment advisory committee to address new policies and procedures.

“I think that the fact that the data hasn't been collected is a sign that we're still working to prove that it is even a problem,” Raven said. “By sharing our stories constantly. It is like we are still trying to be acknowledged and have that problem validated.”

“Because of increased awareness and education, we have seen an increase in the numbers of students who are reporting incidents to both law enforcement personnel and campus authorities,” Darrell Darnell, Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security at George Washington University, said.

It is important to note that even though a robbery, weapon incident, or rape was reported to the campus, it does not mean the incident occurs on the school’s property.

In many cases, the university is required to report incidents that happened within a one block radius.

For more information on CASS or to access resources, CLICK HERE.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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