BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – More and more survivors of sexual misconduct report feeling empowered to come forward, following weeks of accusations and exposure of dozens of high-profile men across the country.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, calls are on the rise at The Safe Center in Bethpage, Long Island. Staffers cannot recall a busier time – for all the wrong reasons.
“We have survivors who are in their 60s who were hurt; victims of rape when they were 10, 11, 12 years of age, who are finally reaching out for help,” said Anthony Zenkus of The Safe Center.
As the number of high-profile powerful men accused of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault grows – among them Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Roy Moore — repressed childhood memories are being ignited.
Some victims share with The Safe Center their feelings of shame and confusion about why they didn’t come forward sooner. Others say the revelations are forcing them to relive their pain all over again.
“People who doubted themselves for years who were victims of sexual violence or relationship violence who thought it was their fault, are finally realizing, ‘Hey, I’m not alone,’” Zenkus said.
“I for so long myself covered it up on campus,” said sexual assault survivor and advocate Elizabeth Osowiecki. “I told the story as if it was someone else.”
Osowiecki recently gained the courage to admit that she was a victim of sexual assault. This week, she has been counseling high schoolers across Long Island.
‘It did give me a sense of my power back, since sexual assault is completely a crime of power,” she said, “keeping our perpetrators secrets for so long.”
She said the popular #MeToo campaign on social media is also giving people like her the confidence to speak out.
“It feels really good to get it out,” Osowiecki said. “Finding your voice and speaking of it.”
Women and men alike are calling in and speaking out, Zenkus said.
“One is a man, and after coming here, he actually said that he had already decided to come here after the story about Weinstein but after he heard about Kevin Spacey, he felt that yeah this is really the right thing to do,” he said. “Because a lot of men who are victims don’t come forward.”
The Safe Center said the publicity surrounding the influx.
The Safe Center also offers crisis intervention and legal advocacy. Their hotline can be reached at (516) 542-0404.