Survivors of sexual assault and harassment gathered Wednesday in Beverly Hills to announce the “Me Too Survivors’ March” on Sunday afternoon in Hollywood.
As traffic moved slowly along Wilshire Boulevard, more than a dozen women and men stood together, holding signs that read “#MeToo March” and “#Endthestigma.”
The group was there to announced the march, to run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in Hollywood. The event is in response to the #MeToo campaign, a social media movement that grew out of accusations by actresses against movie producer Harvey Weinstein and encouraged other women from various backgrounds to share their stories.
“This goes beyond Hollywood,” said Brenda Gutierrez, the lead organizer of the march. “I think it’s time that we’re no longer silenced, no longer shamed and that we can end the stigma and I think that’s a big message of this march.”
“If one person can come out and seek help, then I’ll be happy,” Gutierrez said.
She said the idea of the event came last month when she followed Alyssa Milano’s Twitter request that women tell their stories of sexual harassment or assault with the hashtag #MeToo.
Gutierrez said she shared the tweet on her Facebook account, used the hashtag #MeToo and left to attend a rally against President’s Trump’s travel ban involving several Muslim countries. When she got home and checked her Facebook account she saw more than 40 women she knew had come forward about their experiences.
“I wasn’t surprised because I know it happens a lot,” she said. “It’s sad, but why are we only talking about it when someone famous is talking about it?”
Gutierrez said the hashtag and movement opened up old wounds about her own personal experiences. After seeing the number of women who responded to her Facebook message she decided that there should be a place for all survivors to gather.
“Sexual violence is an epidemic that touches the lives of survivors beyond the predominantly white and wealthy Hollywood celebrities that have come forward with allegations against Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein,” said Hussain Turk, a survivor of rape and sexual battery. “And the perpetrators aren’t just the exceptionally few and rich white men who occupy influential positions of fame and power.”
Among other issues brought up at the press conference was the death of 26-year-old Gemmel Moore, who was found dead at the home of Ed Buck, a high-profile political activist and contributor to the Democratic Party in California and Los Angeles County.
Supporting the group was Chelsea Byers, chair of the Campaign To End the Statute of Limitations on Rape and Sexual Assault. Byers said the campaign targets statute of limitation laws in 30 U.S. states.
“If you’re raped in the state of Pennsylvania, you have 12 years to report that crime,” she said. “ If you’re raped in the state of Arizona, there’s no time limit.”
“The statute of limitations are among the most heinous of gagging mechanisms codified into law. These arbitrary time limits exist in 30 U.S. states and effectively eliminate the possibility for any justice through our legal system.”
Gutierrez, the lead organizer, said she hopes the march will help her heal from her own experiences and hopes it will also help unite other survivors.
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