Alyssa Milano Starts Survivor Hashtag #MeToo to Show the Prevalence of Sexual Violence

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 (Content Warning: Discussion of sexual violence)

[UPDATE: We attribute the movement to Alyssa Milano in this article, but have since learned that Tarana Burke started a movement called Me Too over a decade ago. We write about it here.]

Trending on Twitter today is the hashtag #MeToo, a movement of survivors sharing their stories in order to express the magnitude of sexual assault today.

Beginning with actress Alyssa Milano who shared an image that reads, “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.”

Almost immediately, thousands and thousands of other users came out with their own #MeToo messages. Some have spoken about their experience before publicly, while some are coming forward for the first time. The culture of silencing survivors is a painful part of rape culture, and those bravely participating in #MeToo show that anyone can be a victim and we all likely know several people who are survivors.

While the bravery of women and men who have spoken up is inspiring and their strength in naming their abusers is nothing short of powerful, it’s also important to remember that those who are still coming to terms with their past experiences should be allowed to address it on their own terms.

I’ve been seeing survivors feel guilty that they’re not talking about their own personal experiences amidst everything, and others who have been urging them to come forward. A gentle reminder that not everyone is at a place where they are ready or safe to talk about their experiences, and that doesn’t make their pain or contributions any less valid.

If you’re surprised by the number of #MeToo’s appearing online today from those around you, keep in mind that the number is likely even higher. Like “My Harvey Weinstein,” #MeToo shows sexual harassment and violence is an urgent and prevalent problem that does not begin or end with Hollywood.

(image: ABC)

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