Ailey Jolie is a graduate student at Adler University’s Vancouver campus who devotes her advocacy efforts to sexual assault and sex trafficking awareness. Most recently, Jolie published a personal memoir centered on her own healing after surviving as a victim of childhood sex trafficking, “My Body, My Story“. All profits support ending child sex trafficking in North America.
The latest anti-sexual assault and harassment movement reached more than 85 countries and sparked more than 1.7 million Tweets in its initial days, alone. It has encouraged millions to be the “call to action” for denouncing such abuse by posting #MeToo on their personal social media platforms.
The #MeToo hashtag transverses age, gender, ethnicity, culture, and socioeconomic status. It has provided a venue and shined a spotlight on the severity of the social justice issues that are perpetuated by sexual assault and harassment.
Marked by tremendous courage, victims’ voices continue to roar through social media platforms — and they are deafening. But it’s a sad fact that “Me Too” is not the first push to bring to light shocking statistics that prove how commonplace sexual assault and harassment are in society. This begs the question, “Are we finally on the cusp of real change?” Or will the “Me Too” movement fade into the fast-paced societal abyss along with past sexual assault and harassment campaigns?
As someone who has spent the past five years speaking publicly about my own experiences as a survivor of sexual abuse, I find myself anxious about the future of #MeToo. Despite audiences of more than 2.5 million people I have personally reached, and the seemingly innumerable individuals touched by the movement, as a whole, I wonder if #MeToo will dissolve and be replaced by the latest political conundrum or controversial celebrity news.
Will the strength of survivors, again, be discredited or dismissed?
How can we give “Me Too” the momentum it needs to ignite lasting social change?
What actionable steps can we take to foster a real shift in society?
The only answer I have found might be uncomfortable for some to consider: Social justice can manifest if we speak — and when necessary, shout — the truth, but social change only occurs if we collectively commit to embodying and living that truth.