“Me too” is a movement to shed light on how extensive abuse is — from catcalling, to being grabbed in a public place, to being hit, touched, or belittled within the walls of our homes. If you have been victimized, you should know that you do have the power to speak up, and that there are those who can help. Without a method of measuring cruelty or pain and suffering, it would behoove us to take into account all experiences of domestic abuse with the empathy and compassion a victim deserves.
Out of all of the “me too’s” orbiting Facebook feeds, a small minority of those voicing their experiences are men. For some of us, perhaps the universe has bestowed a tolerant social media community, but it seems that beyond some of our own little worlds there is a slim tolerance for men voicing their experiences with abuse. Men are being lambasted for taking the focus off not just women’s experiences, but off the culture that grooms men to abuse women and teaches women that they like it or they deserve it.
There are resources in Maine for men who have experienced sexual assault and domestic violence, organizations which work with any victim coming to them for help.
Cara Courchesne, communications director for Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA), said MECASA does what it can in all of its materials and services.
“I am glad ‘me too’ is being brought up,” Courchesne said. “We know that men do experience sexual assault. It’s an issue when people who come forward are berated and then we ask why more people decide not to come forward.”
Courchesne said there are support groups in Maine and that in the case of few men coming forward, they are willing to put forth the technology to make available a platform to join in with a larger group setting. She also said that over the past few years, around 15 – 20 percent of their clients have been men and that resources for men have been available ever since MECASA opened its doors.
MECASA’s policy, according to Courchesne, is that for any victim of sexual assault or abuse — whether they have said “me too” or not and whether or not they have been publicly reprimanded for it — an advocate would respond to that person should they seek help.
According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010 summary report, one in three women and one in four men experience physical domestic violence in their lifetime, one in four women and one in seven men experience extreme physical violence, and one in five women and one in 71 men experience rape in their lifetime – nearly half by a family member or acquaintance. Further statistics can be found on MECASA, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Regina Rooney, education and communications director for the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence(MCEDV), said it is important anytime someone can find the courage and opportunity to speak on their experiences.
“The ‘me too’ campaign is a powerful moment for people to share what happened to them,” said Rooney.
It’s also important to recognize the question: “What if I’m not saying ‘me too’, what does that mean?” according to Rooney. But the problem being addressed by the “me too” campaign goes far beyond the walls of home.
“Part of the ‘me too’ campaign is saying that this happens outside of intimate relationships, on the street, at work, at school,” Rooney said.
MCEDV provides outreach material for women, men, and all identifying as LGBTQ.
“Our organization appreciates this as an opportunity for people who experience domestic violence to say ‘me too’,” said Francine Stark, executive director for MCEDV, “so the community can have a better idea of the scope of the problem.”
Further resources for men, women, and those who identify as LGBTQ are below:
The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, Statewide Domestic Violence Helpline 1-866-83-4HELP (1-866-834-4357)
The Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault 1-800-871-7741
Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine, 1-800-822-5999 for Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Knox and Waldo and easten Cumberland counties or 1-800-871-7741 anywhere in Maine.