Uptick in sexual harassment reports amid accusations against celebrities, politicians

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(NEWS10) – Sexual abuse has come to the forefront in recent weeks after accusations have been made against high profile celebrities and politicians.

Nearly every day, new allegations of sexual assault or harassment against public figures are announced. While the stories are troubling, they also encourage more people to come forward.

“Frankly, it was one of the most scariest moments of my life,” Lauren Prosper said.

At 14 years old, Prosper was sexually assaulted. She was on vacation in Florida and about to start high school.

“It was very traumatic,” she recalled. “I questioned myself a lot. It was hard to get through.”

She kept it to herself at first, but within six months she told her parents. Now, a junior at the University of Albany, she’s amazed by what’s been happening in recent weeks across the country.

Celebrities have shared their experiences with sexual assault and harassment and encouraged women to share their stories using #MeToo.

“Victims are, you know, taking charge of their lives and really owning their stories in terms of ‘this happened to me, yes, and this person will not get away with it,’” Prosper said.

Amanda Wingle of the Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center is seeing an uptick in calls since the movement started.

In just the past week, they received three or four calls in which people specifically mentioned the #MeToo campaign.

“People see celebrities coming forward and they realize that this is truly something that can happen to anybody,” she said.

Wingle said the revelations are showing just how big the problem is for both women and men.

“I think that it’s really elevating the issue and bringing it to light,” she said.

Prosper agrees that the war against sexual abuse is reaching a turning point, but she hopes the conversation doesn’t fade away.

“I want this to go further than social media platforms, but into the world to affect, eventually, policy and law,” she said.

If you feel you have been sexually assaulted or harassed, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

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