West Michigan organizations offering support to sexual harassment, assault victims

Posted at 11:51 PM, Nov 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-14 23:52:10-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- You may have noticed them as you scroll through your Facebook or Twitter feeds: women using the hashtag #NoMoore in a post with a photo of themselves when they were 14 years old. That's the same age of one of the alleged sexual abuse victims of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Moore is one of the latest in a wave of famous men accused of sexual harassment and assault.  Victim advocates in West Michigan are encouraging people in our communities to do something brave to put an end to this behavior.

"I think it is a watershed moment potentially, and there is a chance for the community to come together and really have an honest dialogue about behaviors and attitudes and the environment we've created that allows for such violence and harassment and sexual aggression to happen," said Charisse Mitchell, CEO of YWCA West Central Michigan.

The Women's Resource Center, YWCA and Grand Rapids Community Foundation say they're encouraging the momentum brought by the 'Me Too' movement.

"I have the utmost admiration for all of those who've come forward, victims who have told their stories" Mitchell said. "And I hope people are inspired to pay attention and listen, not just to the very public voices but the very private ones who have probably been calling for help and asking for assistance for a long time."

In an open letter, they call for men especially to practice courage, leadership and action when they recognize abusive behavior.

"We have a 'Men Choosing Alternatives to Violence,' which is an intervention group for those men who choose to change their behavior and want to be different and have different kinds of relationship with people. We have that support," Mitchell said.

Above all, they want justice to be delivered to survivors.

"If you just want to talk with somebody, for someone to understand what you're going through, know that we're here," Mitchell said. "Know that there are resources in the community that can support you, that you're not alone. We want to be that place where if you feel like you need support, you can come here, you can call here, you don't have to prove anything to us."

Leaders like Mitchell encourage anyone who witnesses abusive behavior to do something about it.

"That kind of behavior minimizes not just victims, but perpetrators as well," Mitchell said. "Men are better than that, we know that. There are plenty of good people who don't treat each other that way."