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'I have survived': #MeToo is encouraging local survivors of sexual abuse to speak up

Posted at 11:11 PM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-20 00:39:16-04

CINCINNATI -- Surgery.



Those were Marcia Hooley's companions on her 19th birthday, which she spent hospitalized after a violent sexual assault. She knew her attacker as well as she knew police would never arrest him: He was her husband, and in 1986, Ohio had yet to criminalize marital rape.

Her stitches fell out; her surgical incisions turned into scars. The fear -- not only of retaliation but of letting others know that she had been attacked -- stayed with her, she said, for years.

"I have survived," she said Thursday at Cincinnati's 29th annual Take Back the Night rally. "I have been determined that I was not going to let that dictate my life was forever going to be bad. I wasn't going to give him that power."

The rising cultural tide of the #MeToo movement, which encourages survivors of sexual assault to share their experiences and hold their attackers accountable, has coincided with an uptick in local calls for support at Women Helping Women, organizer Em Joy said.

"It's powerful for the survivors; it's powerful for the people in the audience just seeing all the different ways, all the different people who have been affected by sexual violence and abuse," she said.

She hopes events like the rally, which attracted around 100 activists with signs and slogans ready, will lead even more to speak up -- and to know, even if they don't, that a supportive community exists for people like them.

"The Me Too movement, it's been something that has been building and coming for a long time," she said. "We are really riding on this wave of people who are outing their perpetrators, who are not going to be silent anymore."

If you or someone you know needs help escaping an abusive situation, Women Helping Women's emergency hotline is available all day, every day at 513-381-5610. People of any gender can utilize the organization's services.