Iowans Using Nationwide Social Media Campaign to Share Experiences of Sexual Assault, Harassment

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  A nationwide social media campaign using the hashtag #MeToo has Iowans sharing personal experiences with sexual assault and harassment.

The movement stems from recent sexual assault allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, and has already been shared over 800,000 times online.

“It can provide support on a social media platform for those who have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment," said Lisa Heldenbrand of the Polk County Crisis and Advocacy.

Channel 13 spoke to Kathryn Standing, who lives in Des Moines and is one of thousands using #MeToo.

“Personally, quite a lot, and of course it seems like most women that I know have experienced it, at least to the degree of cat calls, some sort of sexual harassment," Standing said.

Men can be victims of sexual assault, too, and the #MeToo hashtag aims to raise awareness and show just how many people are impacted.

“It can also, even if they choose not to use the hashtag #MeToo, they can look at people who have in their area and find support or just say, you know what, I'm not alone," Heldenbrand said.

And they are not alone. According to Polk County officials, there are more than 300 sexual assault cases so far this year; this number is up 60 from last year.

“It’s happening to people, and its okay that they need to come to terms and that there is a support group for them on a daily basis, and that slowly but surely we can start to overcome it, we can start to move past it," Standing said.

#MeToo is a call to action, letting victims know they do not have to suffer in silence.

"The standard of not holding people responsible is done," said Heldenbrand.

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