Local residents to host #Metoo inspired event

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

Several Charleston residents are hosting a presentation inspired by the #MeToo movement at 7 p.m. Friday at Bob’s Bookstore in Charleston.

Kathryn Stewart, one of the organizers of the event, said the presentation is a way to localize the movement by sharing real stories from local women who were affected by sexual harassment or assault.

She said it will bring the problem with sexual assault “home.”

“These are people you rub elbows with, this brings it up close and personal and shows people that everyone has a story,” Stewart said.

The idea for the presentation came from Elizabeth Halbe, a Charleston resident who Stewart said was inspired by a quote from journalist Mary Schmich: “By sharing experience we start to understand our own a little better.”

“(Halbe) had the idea and her husband Earl Halbe encouraged her to tell me,” Stewart said. “It’s her baby.”

Ann Bruehler, another organizer of the event, said several women of different ages will present their own stories relating to sexual assault or harassment or share the stories of others who chose not to speak.

She said there will be a wide range of stories that will be presented in an effort to show a sense of community and to show others that people care.

“It is important to know that sexual assault and harassment touches lives everywhere,” Bruehler said. “It’s important for people to feel like they’re not alone.”

Bruehler said she got involved with the event after a conversation she had with Halbe at a restaurant.

She said she told Halbe of an incident she experienced while she was in college, something she said was not worthy of sharing to others because it was not a physical assault.

“(Halbe) told me it mattered,” Bruehler said. “It may not have been a physical assault but it happened … we need to change the culture … this is not OK.”

The presentation is free and open to the public, however Stewart and Bruehler said it is intended for people who they think will benefit from it.

Stewart said she wants to have a safe environment for presenters and therefore does not want any “trolls” to show up.

“We’re hoping it will be a supportive group and a non-triggering group,” Stewart said.

Stewart said the event is as secure as can be, meaning that those who are sharing their stories or participating in the question and answer event will not feel threatened, uncomfortable or if they want their privacy protected it will be.

“I want there to be a sense of sharing and sisterhood,” Bruehler said. “For anybody exposed to sexual harassment I hope it would be an uplifting event for them.”

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]