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Women are taking to social media to self-identify
as victims of sexual violence hoping to change culture.

By now, if you’ve spent any time on social media, you’ve seen someone reference #MeToo.

Women — a lot of women — are self identifying as victims of sexual violence through the #MeToo campaign in the wake of Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Janis Elder, who runs the Sexual Abuse Counseling and Support Program at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, sees some empowerment happening.

“I think what’s happened is most survivors believe that they’re the only one that’s experienced this,” she said, “and they’re feeling like finally the community understands the pain that they’ve gone through and that they have a voice.”

Elder says she’s not surprised by the numbers of women identifying themselves as victims. She sees too many victims who try to keep their assaults secret to think abuse is not widespread.

Elder isn’t surprised by the amount of women stepping into the light based on the number of victims she’s helped.

“(The #MeToo campaign has) empowered them to speak out,” Elder said. “It’s empowring them to realize that people care and that there could be change and that we want to have change.

“The more that people speak out against sexual violence, hopefully we can use prevention education and educate others to stop this from occurring anymore.”

Elder says it seems, through #MeToo, survivors of sexual violence suddenly realize there’s support in the community for what they’ve gone through.

The end goal of the campaign could be changing the culture entirely.

“I would love to believe that this would change the culture of society and that violence,” Elder said. “I’ve been working this field for 32 years and that’s my goal, to end sexual violence.”

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