Kitchener-Waterloo

#MeToo campaign doubles requests for counselling in Waterloo region

The number of women in Waterloo region seeking counselling for sexual harassment and assault has doubled since the #MeToo campaign exploded on social media Sunday evening.

Sexual Assault Support Centre has received 22 requests in past week.

The region's Sexual Assault Support Centre says the number of women requesting counselling has doubled since the #MeToo campaign began. (Mihai Surdu/Shutterstock)

The number of women in Waterloo region seeking counselling for sexual harassment and assault has doubled since the #MeToo campaign exploded on social media Sunday evening.

As of Wednesday, the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region reported 22 requests for counselling services, which program education manager Joan Tuchlinsky said was twice as high as usual. 

"Many people who are phoning in to ask for counselling are even suggesting that is why they are calling in, because of the campaign itself, or they've heard some of us speaking on behalf of our agency in the media," she told CBC News.

The women who mention the hashtag have different reasons for doing so. Tuchlinsky said some see the campaign in a positive light, as a source of empowerment. Others, however, are triggered by the stories that are being shared on social media and the comments that often follow.

"People speaking back against that or people talking about false allegations or the fact that men experience violence too... It can have a negative impact on some people," she said.

As a result, women can feel lost when hashtags like #MeToo go viral, and Tuchlinsky said it's important they know where they can go for support — whether it's a close friend, family member or community agency.

Support stretched

The increase in demand has put a strain on the centre's resources, which are already stretched. Tuchlinsky said right now women have to wait months for counselling through the agency.

"We encourage people to do more than just say they believe people or support people, but live out that support," she said.

"If you can make a monthly donation to our agency, then we can provide more counselling and have it available when these calls are coming in."

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