Social Media: Does it help or hinder the fight to end sexual and domestic violence?

by Carmen Fisher-Olvera, Youth Advocate Intern – HOPE Works, 11th grade Champlain Valley High School, 16 years old

To be quite honest the answer wasn’t immediate. Social media has always been my “go to” place for awareness. I started really getting involved in the movement when I was around 12 years old. In time-sensitive matters when the public needs to be aware of the issue, like when victims are abducted or a victim is missing, social media never fails to inform.

As a youth advocate, social media is an irreplaceable resource. Victims come together with others in a method of healing, telling their story and coping with the trauma. To hear stories is heartbreaking however knowing that victims had the courage to post their story is inspiring. Campaigns to raise awareness spread more quickly than they ever have.

Social media can be abused, however. Some groups form in order to harass or hurt the victim. When inaccurate information is used it can shape public opinion and government policies for the worst. It can also reinforce myths and stereotypes of crime victims. Media coverage also can re-traumatize victims of violence if it is especially inaccurate.
The power that social media holds can be daunting, however it is important to embrace it. Social media is a gift, and I am sure I don’t realize the full extent of its power. Social media is here to stay, and it is our responsibility to use it for good.