@metoo_blake Documents Survivor Stories

New task force to combat issues


Ali Hecker

The account @metoo_blake draws awareness to important issues surrounding sexual assault.

Anna Tao, Staff Writer

On Mar. 3, an Instagram account under the handle @metoo_blake started publicly sharing the anonymous stories of sexual violence in the community. Referencing the MeToo movement popularized in 2017, the account intends to share the unsettling frequency and normalization of sexual violence on the smaller scale within the community. The account, run by an alumna, has recently garnered the attention of administration. Both the alumna and Anne Graybeal, Associate Head of School, set up a meeting with an aim to have “a conversation about different ideas and opportunities for Blake to continue to assess and enhance our practice of responding to certain cases of sexual harassment at school.” 

The alumna explained her reasoning for action, “My goal during advocacy is just to try to protect other people from experiencing what I’ve experienced… I felt it important that I use the privilege that I have to advocate on behalf of survivors at Blake.”

The alumna expressed that although she’s been trying combat sexual violence within Blake beginning back in 2018, her dedication to sharing instances of sexual violence has increased since creating the Instagram account. She said, “I still hadn’t resolved the trauma I experienced [and] in a last ditch effort to try to get closure on the situation… I took the social media approach and then also ended up having these meetings with an administrator and a member of the Board of Trustees.” Since the owner of the account works completely outside of the school, administrators have little agency over actions within posts.

The alumna believes that the current measures set by administration are rather generalized and do not completely include extensive support for survivors. She adds that some of the responsive measures stated within the Family Handbook are not accurate to her experience with sexual violence during her time at Blake. “I felt like the response that I got from Blake administrators was retraumatizing… It actively contributed to the physiological harm that I was experiencing at the time,” she said.

In an email, Director of Counseling Erin Adams said, “While our school policy references student support as a part of our response to reports of sexual assault, the specific aspects of support are not detailed since that can look different for everyone. Some students need individual support to process a single event of harassment or assault or to recognize aspects of an unhealthy relationship. Other students need support or advocacy in determining how to share information with parents, the school or law enforcement.”

The concept of using social media to influence the school’s policies involving sexual violence was an attempt for the owner to “exert some sort of influence on Blake administration to try to get them to change their policies,” and so through using social media she was able to gain a platform for the school to place policy reforms high on their lists. Graybeal too expressed her thoughts on the use of social media, as it offers a different forum for discussion. Graybeal said, “There is something really important and freeing in the spirit of posting anonymously… that’s a sign that this [account] is good. There has to be a platform where people share their experiences.” The alumna said, “I’m an alum, I haven’t been in the school for a long time, so I want current students to feel like they have a voice, and they know the school better than I do.”

“What I admire so much about this person is that as an alum, they are really invested in partnering with the school to ensure that we are continuing to grow and evolve and improve our practices,” Graybeal said. She continued, “I think it’s always easy for a person to walk away and say ‘I’m not a student there anymore, that’s not relevant anymore’ and I just think that it’s tremendously cool that somebody who graduated from this school a number of years ago wants Blake to be better and is taking numerous steps to make it work.”

During their meeting, the alumna and Graybeal devised a plan to form a task force, made up of adults from the Middle and Upper School, that will work this summer on expanding the schools’ policies towards benefit-
ing survivors for the 2023-24 school year. The task force plans to train or hire a professional in support of survivors and craft therapy vouchers. Graybeal explained in an email that some topics they plan to explore include: expanding consent education,
ensuring that students who report harassment or assault understand the reporting process, exploring a climate survey, offering multiple formats for conversations about consent, harassment and assault (e.g., plays, student-created
PSAs), and continuing to build HIP to expand health education. The alumna said, “[Graybeal] came up with ideas, so that was a sign in my mind that the school was going to be responsive to what I was advocating for… I think that it is very hopeful that there
is a task force now.”