Powerful Voices

The global reach of #MeToo has brought the long overdue reckoning with sexual assault, harassment and abuse.

"mee too" Movement founder Tarana Burke speaks about standing up to sexual violence with The Commmunity Foundation Vice Chair Khalilah Brown-Dean at the 2018 Community Fund for Women & Girls Annual Meeting and Convening.

Bringing an End to Sexual Violence

The global reach of #MeToo has brought the long overdue public reckoning with sexual assault, harassment and abuse. The collective power of millions of women stepping up in solidarity to publicly identify as survivors and share their stories, stories known to women throughout history, has profoundly changed societal norms and views. The unwritten codes that protected abusive men are losing their power and the prevalence of sexual abuse can be ignored no longer. With hope, this movement is leading to a new era built on empathy and equity for all.

A Movement Building Inclusiveness

In 2006, Tarana Burke founded the 'me too.' Movement after listening to the story of a young girl who survived sexual abuse from her stepfather. For 25 years, Burke has worked with young women of color who have survived sexual abuse and assault. When actress Alyssa Milano tweeted #MeToo in 2017, it was shared in more than 12 million posts and reactions in the first 24 hours. Since then, omen around the world have also stood up to share their stories in solidarity, showing that problem of sexual violence is a common problem across all income levels, races, ethnicities, genders, and nationalities. As Tarana Burke says, "What started as local grass roots work has expanded to reach a global network of survivors from all walks of life."

Local Motion

New Haven Representative Robyn Porter at the 2018 Women's March in Hartford.

Having worked primarily with survivors who were young girls of color, Burke has made a point to advocates for change that the voices of marginalized communities are not being ignored.

New Haven Representative Robyn Porter made this point at the 2018 Women's March in Hartford. She made the decision to participate even though the march had been criticized by black women for not having taken up the issues affecting communities of color, such as maternal and infant mortality, police brutality, mass incarceration, unemployment and criminal justice reform.

"Nobody can speak for your experience," said Porter, "so it is crucial that people that look like you and have experiences like you not only have access to power – but that they also have access to the mic. … So here I am, to speak to you all today on behalf of the black women who feel left out and left behind – black women whose voices have not been heard and whose issues have not garnered white women's staunch support.

"White women must use their privilege in this movement to demand justice for the causes of the women whose very shoulders they have consistently stood on over the centuries. It's time for a reckoning and a change.
"I want to know: Can we start over and clear the air? I sure hope so, because it's the only way we're going to win."

What The Community Foundation is Doing

The Community Fund for Women & Girls welcomed Tarana Burke to its 2018 Annual Meeting and Convening for a community converstation. The Fund is dedicated to forging a path for women and girls to speak for themselves as well as for those who have no voice. As part of this commitment, the Fund regularly holds Convenings and events, featuring inspirational women and giving local advocates a chance to meet and discuss regional, national and global issues affecting us all.

The Community Foundation's Capacity Building Program offered the workshop, "Employers' Primer on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment" for nonprofit CEOs, HR professionals and board members responsible for creating and implementing policy.

What is Being Done in Greater New Haven

The Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services, a program of BH Care, provides a temporary confidential refuge for women and children affected by domestic violence and works for social change to eliminate domestic violence.

The Rape Crisis Center of Milford, supported with a joint grant from The Community Foundation and Valley Community Foundation, provides culturally competent services to sexual assault victims and educational programming to end sexual assault.

Love146, headquartered in New Haven, works internationally to end child sex slavery and exploitation, with holistic care programs for survivors, and prevention and education programs. Love 146 is also building a movement through advocacy and grassroots organizing.

Nasty Women Connecticut is an artist collective that is gathering stories and testimonials to break the silence around sexual violence. The Testimonials project is part of a larger mission to show that all members of the community are affected by a pernicious culture of harassment and assault. The stories are being filmed and recorded and for screenings staged around the state.

Victim Rights Center of Connecticut is dedicated to serving the needs of victims of violent crime. This nonprofit organization acts as independent legal counsel sworn to protect the legal rights and best interests of the victim through a broad-based approach grounded in litigation, creative problem-solving, and extensive knowledge of the judicial system.

Additional Resources

'me too.' Movement

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010-2012 State Report

U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Victimization, 2016