Women’s Week: Suffolk campaigner says #MeToo offered abuse victims solidarity

Helen Taylor of the Suffolk Feminist Society. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Helen Taylor of the Suffolk Feminist Society. Picture: SIMON PARKER

The idea was simple: if every woman who had ever been sexually assaulted or harassed posted ‘me too’ online, we might get a sense of the true scale of the problem.

Pippa Banham. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Pippa Banham. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Once the seed was planted, social media soon become awash with #MeToo. From celebrities and public figures, to every-day women and girls.

The hashtag was sometimes preceded with the writer’s story of abuse, while others chose not to disclose details.

Helen Taylor, of Ipswich, who is the founder of Suffolk Feminist Society, said the initiative provided solidarity for survivors.

She said: “After I posted #MeToo online, I had half a dozen women on social media who messaged me and started talking to me about their experiences, which had never been disclosed to other people, so that meant they were able to get support, advice, and they felt like they were not alone and someone believed them.

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“It opened up channels for people who had never disclosed before to do that. I also think it opened people’s eyes who had never experienced abuse.”

Ms Taylor, 46, said she didn’t know a single woman who had not been subjected to some form of sexual abuse or harassment.

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She added: “I had conversations with men in my life, and ones not in my life online, whereby they had this realisation about how bad it is for us, about how pervasive and epidemic it is.”

However, Pippa Banham, from Easton, a village in east Suffolk, has questioned the focus of #MeToo.

Ms Banham said although the campaign had been an important catalyst for social justice, it put the onus yet again on the victims.

She said: “We live in a society of sexual harassment claims, but, it seems, no harassers, or we live in a society of rape victims, but no rapists, and it’s like, well who is doing this? Who are the perpetrators? I just felt the emphasis needed adjusting, again it was on the victims and actually let’s seek out the perpetrators.”

The 48-year-old said the #TimesUp movement, highlighted at the Golden Globes awards, was a much more powerful response to harassment as it provided victims with financial support and practical help to bring their abusers to justice.

She said: “#TimesUp sends a strong message to all perpetrators of abuse: the women have had enough and we are coming for you.”

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