In recent weeks, women have been bringing the prevalence of sexual harassment into focus. Primarily, this has been through sharing their sexual harassment experiences on Twitter with the hashtag #metoo. However, what you may not know is that the Me Too campaign has been active for much longer than this.
In mid-October, actress Alyssa Milano sent out a tweet that ignited the campaign’s visibility online. She challenged women who have experienced sexual harassment or assault to reply to her tweet with the words “me too.” To date, the tweet has received over 69K replies, 25K retweets and 50K likes. Additionally, “me too” has also become an often tweeted hashtag, with more than 1 million uses counted to date.
The outpouring of stories comes in the wake of investigative reports into decades of sexual assault from producer Harvey Weinstein.
However, before Alyssa Milano’s tweet, activists have been spreading awareness for Me Too for many years. Tarana Burke, who is the program director for Girls for Gender Equality, started the campaign. It all began in 1996, when Burke heard a harrowing account of sexual assault from a child under her care when she was a youth camp director. Burke told CNN that she’s happy to see the campaign reach a larger audience thanks to Alyssa Milano’s tweet.
An American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds, according to the rape abuse & incest national network. On average, there are 321,500 victims of sexual assault in the United States each year, and women are most at risk
In fact, 1 in 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, and the effects are long lasting. 70% of sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress, which is greater than any other violent crime. 94% of women who are raped experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in the 2 weeks following the incident and 33% think about suicide.