April 25, 2018 12:35 AM
(ABC 6 News) – A Sexual Harassment Task Force was formed in Rochester after seeing the overwhelming number of emotional stories coming out of the #METOO movement across the country.
"I have been doing training on sexual harassment for years and every time I ask, every woman in the audience raises her hand," Terri Allred with Rochester Women’s Shelter and Support Center said.
Tuesday, local groups including the Rochester Women's Shelter and Support Center, and Olmsted County Victim Services held their first Sexual Harassment Task Force meeting.
"We have resources in town for sexual assault, for domestic violence,” Allred said. “So very often, women who have experienced sexual harassment, it's minimized, but the impact is still very traumatic for people."
Some people at the meeting said those who have been harassed often feel uncomfortable seeking the same help as people who have been sexually assaulted or raped, but the experience can be similar.
"It begins with talking about it,” Andrea White with Olmsted County Victim Services said. “Especially within the community to know that everyone's coming together in a space that's safe and they're moving forward to talk about what services are available."
Allred said sometimes sexual harassment can be difficult to identify, but if you see or experience inappropriate touching or comments, the best thing you can do is speak up.
"If you're the type of person who's uncomfortable directly addressing a situation, then you might want to do something like get a friend involved or tell a supervisor or trusted adult if you're a teenager," Allred said.
Supporters also said the most important message from the task force is for victims to know they're not alone.
"It does happen to other people and it's not shameful, and in fact, there are [people] out there in our community who are willing to stand beside you," White said.
Allred said they're already working on setting updates for future meetings. If you're someone who needs help, you can call the Women’s Shelter number at 507-258-1010.
Updated: April 25, 2018 12:35 AM
Created: April 24, 2018 10:27 PM
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