Two words are sparking an entire movement online.
You’ve likely seen the hashtag 'Me Too’ popping up in your news feed. The posts encourage people to share their experiences with sexual abuse, harassment and assault.
Lora-Joy Adzima, of Knoxville, is a survivor of sexual abuse. When she first saw the ‘Me Too’ posts going viral, she hesitated. For her, it’s not an easy topic to relive.
“I put it on and then I took it off and then I decided to put it back on again,” Adzima said.
She decided it was important to share the post.
"When what happened to me happened, you did not speak about things like this at all," she said.
As a young girl, Adzima was repeatedly sexually abused by a close family member.
"I was told to keep it a secret and it went on, on and off, for a period of 8 years," she said.
Adzima said the abuse impacted every part of her life. She battled an eating disorder and struggled with self-worth for years. Eventually she made the ultimate decision.
"I tried to take my life because I was just sad and it was hard. I felt, I just didn't want to go on," she said.
Years later, Adzima said she recognizes how lucky she is to have survived. Her attempt at suicide was unsuccessful and after years of counseling, she said she has finally healed. Adzima is happily married with two children, but she said the ‘Me Too’ movement reminds her she is not alone.
“People don’t realize how big of a problem it is,” Catherine Oaks, the assistant director of victim services for the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee said.
Oaks said, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be victims of attempted or completed rape. That doesn’t include other forms of sexual assault.
“Sexual assault isn’t just rape, it does included sexual battery. Then we’re also talking about sexual harassment too,” Oaks said.
The ‘Me Too’ movement creates opportunity for real conversations.
“With a movement like this, these women, these men, whoever is speaking out about this ‘Me Too,’ they have a voice,” Adzima said, “If you see someone on your timeline that did the #MeToo…reach out to that person.”
Adzima said talking about her past helped her to heal. She hopes this hashtags helps other women cope with their experiences, too.
The Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee offers a number of resources for survivors including advocacy services, therapy and sexual assault examinations. You can call 865-522-7273 to reach the 24 hour crisis hotline.