By Catherine Pigg
The #MeToo campaign started nearly a decade ago by activist Tarana Burke. It was created to help bring awareness to the social issue of sexual assault and harassment.
The current social media movement gained momentum in light of victims coming forward about allegations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein, an American film producer.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported 11,364 claims of sexual harassment in the workplace, 83.7 percent of these charges filed by females in 2011.
Individuals who faced either sexual assault, sexual harassment or both in the past were encouraged to use the hashtag #MeToo to demonstrate how big an issue sexual violence is within society. Celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Alyssa Milano, Lady Gaga and Monica Lewinsky tweeted out #MeToo. Thousands of individuals across the internet posted either in support of individuals opening up about their experience with sexual violence, or by coming out with their own story.
Many of the #MeToo supporters bring awareness to the many women and men who have faced sexual assault in the past but may be unwilling to share their experience and how survivors do not owe anyone their story. For some survivors, retelling their story could act as a trigger and for others it may be unsafe to tell their story. Regardless it is important to acknowledge these survivors own their story and are not required to speak out.
The National’s Women Study reports one out of three female rape victims develop post traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives.
Rape is the most under-reported crime as 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, according to The National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reports 7 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Out of the statistic above, 45 percent were committed by acquaintances, 25 percent were current or former partners and 23 percent were strangers.
This social campaign serves as a powerful reminder to the general public how often sexual violence happens and forces the issue into light.
#MeToo acts as both an outcry against sexual assault and harassment and reveals the intense reality many face, especially women who make up the majority of sexual assault victims. This campaign not only acts as an outlet for survivors to speak about their experience, but also as a reminder for others to speak out against sexual violence and stand with victims.