Strathclyde Telegraph

#MeToo encourages millions to come out as survivors of sexual assault

Last week’s #metoo hashtag on social media encouraged women around the world to share their experiences of sexual abuse.

Following the allegations made against film producer Harvey Weinsten, actress Alyssa Milano revived the decade old campaign against sexual violence.

In a tweet posted on Saturday, Milano stated, ‘Suggested by a friend: if all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.’

The initiative was started by Tarana Burke, a US activist based in New York City, whose initial focus was to support women and queer folk of colour and underprivileged communities.

Burke, having survived a sexual assault herself, said she had found conversations with other victims healing. The slogan ‘empowerment through empathy’ became the basis of her campaign.

Speaking to Elle Magazine, Burke said: ‘When I was starting to figure out what healing looked like for me, I realised the most powerful interactions I had were amongst survivors.’

According to CBS News, the hashtag had appeared almost one million times on Twitter within 48 hours, with a reported further twelve million posts on Facebook in under 24 hours. The news agency reports that in the US, 45% of Facebook users have friends who have posted the two words.

The movement gathered new strength over the weekend, also prompting Australian journalist Benjamin Law to respond. In a tweet he states: ‘Guys, it’s our turn. After yesterday’s endless #MeToo stories of women being abused, assaulted and harassed, today we say #HowIWillChange.’

Within the first two days over 300,000 men have responded to #MeToo on social media.

In an article written for PatriotnotPartisan, Milano explained her feelings towards the movement.

‘While I am sickened and angered over the disturbing accusations of Weinstein’s sexual predation and abuse of power,’ she said, ‘I’m happy – ecstatic even – that it has opened up a dialogue around the continued sexual harassment, objectification and degradation of women.’

‘To the women who have suffered from any abuse of power, I stand beside you.’

By Hannah Forsyth