Jalen Flaherty, Media Publisher/Editor

In 1997, a woman named Tarana Burke met a young 13-year-old girl who told her the story of how she was sexually abused. A story that, at the time, she had no idea would drastically change the course of her life. This conversation changed Burke’s complete outlook and urged her to begin a nonprofit organization to aid girls like this one. “I didn’t have a response or a way to help her in that moment, and I couldn’t even say ‘me too,’” Burke tells The New York Times.  This was the moment that she knew that no one should feel alone after being abused. This created the ‘Me Too’ movement.

Ten years later, Tarana Burke starts an organization on her own in the hopes of helping victims of sexual assault and harassment called Just Be Inc. and made the decision to commit herself completely to helping victims of abuse.

Twenty years later from 1997, Harvey Weinstein, a prominent Hollywood producer, is accused of allegedly sexually harassing women for decades. These accusations created a whirlwind of new accusations against men and even women of power. In the month following Weinstein’s demise, more allegations arose. It’s not only focused on celebrities, but also politicians, journalists, and really anyone who took advantage of their social status for potential gain. This was starting to look like the dawn of a new era, and as you can imagine, social media became the hub for women and men to announce their stories of abuse. Using #metoo, actress Alyssa Milano started a trend on Twitter, completely unaware of the origins of the movement. These two words jumped into the spotlight and Tarana Burke’s movement came along with it.

The #MeToo movement has been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2017. On the cover of the magazine shows what Time is calling the “Silence Breakers”. Celebrities like Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, and even everyday citizens like strawberry picker Isabel Pascual, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, and lobbyist Adama Iwu. The cover also shows another woman who is cropped out of the photo, who still wishes to remain anonymous. Even after a year of such revolutionary change, there are still people scared out of their mind to reveal their abusers due to their power, and this movement is the first steps of taking power away from these abusers.

You might be asking yourself as a student at Weedsport High School what’s the point in learning about this? What can I do to make a difference? On a local level, there are already changes being made. Governor Andrew Cuomo just recently signed multiple pieces of legislation that are, according to Cuomo, “designed to protect and further women’s equality in New York.” Cuomo’s overall goal is to reduce the amount of abuse, whether that be domestic abuse or strengthening human trafficking laws. New York State has allocated $6.4 million for Sexual Assault Prevention due to Cuomo’s legislative changes, which confirms even more that New York is once again becoming a place of progress.

Sexual assault is a very real and terrifying reality of our world. As students who are growing up in a society like this one, we need to know what is going on in the world around us in order to prevent anything like this to continue to happen. Spread awareness or at the very least show support to victims of abuse. For all you know, you could be the person to make a change, and one day you might sit down next to a little 13-year-old girl and she will tell you her story, and just sitting next to her and listening could give her the hope of a better future.