HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal that has prompted hundreds of victims to speak out about their own experiences of abuse, survivors are preparing to make their voices heard in the heart of a town rocked by the recent revelations involving some of its most prominent figures.
A #MeToo rally planned for Sunday hopes to bring the social media movement to the streets, bringing people to the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, which will serve as a safe space for victims and survivors of sexual harassment who have kept their secret struggles silent for so long.
“Why are we staying silent? Us as survivors, we need to speak up,” Brenda Gutierrez, the organizer of the Me Too Survivors March, told reporters at a press conference Wednesday.
“Many of us have felt that sexual assault is something to be ashamed of, but no more! We are not to blame and it’s time that we stop normalizing rape culture,” it reads on the event’s Facebook page.
The Weinstein scandal, as well as subsequent allegations against huge Hollywood players like Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer, have served to create a moment of unity for men and women who have been victims of sexual assault, in Hollywood and in their everyday lives.
“For every Weinstein out there, there’s a hundred more men in our communities who are doing the exact same thing,” said survivor Lucille Vargas.
She was among the handful of people who took to the podium at Wednesday’s press conference, pronouncing, without shame, “Me too.”
“It was a total out-of-body experience,” activist Chelsea Byers said of her assault six years ago at an event in Washington, D.C. where she was protesting. Video of incident shows the now 28-year-old being grabbed off a table by a man who then wraps his arms around her from behind.
“My body, in essence, was frozen in that moment,” she emotionally recounted the story to CBS2 News. “I couldn’t stop the hands that were moving up and down me while my face was buried. I just continued to shout.”
And that stifling of her voice is what the Sunday’s rally intends to counter. Byers, chair of the Campaign to End the Statute of Limitations on Rape and Sexual Assault, is one of the many women that will be speaking during the march.
“I’m fighting for myself and everybody else who is in this fight together,” Chelsea Byers told CBS2.
Tarana Burke, credited with starting the “Me Too” campaign a decade before the Weinstein revelations, will also be on hand.
The event will take place from 1o a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 12 at Hollywood and Highland. Resources for victims of sexual assault will also be available.