AUSTIN - Austinite Jackie Mayo is one of thousands of women who took to social media and recently revealed their own experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault as part of the #MeToo campaign.
It was all inspired by actress Alyssa Milano's tweet: "If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet."
She goes on to write, "Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too.' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem."
Mayo said in her 50 years, she has been harassed, groped and stalked.
She said the stalking happened during her college years at the University of Texas at El Paso. When she moved to Austin, she had another terrifying experience on Sixth Street.
"I actually had a man reach under my skirt and grab my behind .. and he thought it was funny and his group of friends thought it was funny and I didn't think it was funny," Mayo recounted.
It's not funny at all. In fact, police said it's a crime.
But that's not the point Jackie Mayo wanted to make Monday. She spoke up because she wanted other women to do the same.
"... by being silent, you've just relinquished everything, you are doing what they want you to do. You are being silent, you are now a victim," Mayo said.
When she opened her social media on Monday, she said she was shocked.
"One of my friends posted her story and I was just, 'oh my goodness, I cannot believe that happened to you,' and I have friends who just 'me too, me too, me too, me too,'" she said.
When Mayo first heard about Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and the sexual harassment allegations against him, she thought, "Here we go again with more boorish behavior."
Mayo said she didn't think much of it at first. But as more women came forward, Mayo knew the root of the problem went much deeper.
"We see it but don't say anything and so it just allows these men to continue to their horrible, horrible behavior," said Mayo.
And it could only stop if more women speak up.
If you've been sexually harassed, the SAFE Alliance said there are three things you need to do.
First, talk to someone you trust. Next, know you are never to blame for being harassed. The third is to seek safety immediately.
The SAFE Alliance said it's important to point out that while more women experience sexual harassment, it also happens to men.
SAFE has a Community Education Program that offers training to raise awareness against sexual harassment for businesses. For more information, please email Sandra Molinari, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAFE also has SAFEline, SAFE’s 24-hour hotline and chat. 512-267-SAFE.
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