Women around the world are sharing their stories of sexual abuse using the hashtag #MeToo. It’s a social media campaign started by actress Alyssa Milano as a reaction to sexual abuse allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein.
In East Texas, the local organization, 1 in 3 Foundation, works year-round to help the victims of sexual abuse.
"That's a sobering statistic, but the World Health Organization says that one in three women at some point in their life time will experience some sort of sexual abuse," said Maya Bethany, the founder of the 1 in 3 Foundation.
The 1 in 3 Foundation focuses on helping women who don’t have the resources or funds to seek professional help.
"We provide counseling services to women with little to no income at no cost," said Bethany.
Brenda McBride is a licensed social worker. She provides counseling services for women who have seek help from the 1 in 3 Foundation. McBride has also experienced sexual harassment. She said she's even endured it in the workplace and it happens more often than it's reported.
"Particularly in East Texas we have the quote: ‘good ole boy culture’ that exists where women don't feel safe to use their voice,” said McBride. “They feel like they're going to be ridiculed, humiliated, made fun of or be excluded in some way."
Bethany said the social media campaign has opened lines of communication for women to stand up and share their stories.
"It's not been until recently that we've started to see things like the #MeToo movement, that women are starting to come out and feel like it's okay for them to share that," said Bethany.
The 1 in 3 Foundation not only helps survivors heal, but is also committed to stopping the problem. The organization is partnered with Men Can Stop Rape. Next month, both organizations will host a meeting with local high school coaches and athletes.
"We've got to get to these young men before they get to college because the mindset is already there by the time they get to college,” said Bethany. “We've got to talk to them when they're in high school or even in middle school about a culture of respect for women."
Bethany said the meeting will focus on by-stander intervention.
"If you hear something, if you hear your buddy catcalling a woman speak up,” said Bethany. “How do you do that? It's ok to check another man on that type of behavior."
Both Bethany and McBride said they want women to know the 1 in 3 Foundation will always provide a safe place for women in East Texas.
"You're not alone. It's not your fault, there is help, there is healing, there is hope. This is not who you are," said McBride.
If you would like to contact the 1 in Foundation, you can follow the link to the organization's website. You can also call 903-881-3091.