#Metoo, a viral social media campaign of empowerment

A few weeks ago, Facebook and Twitter users might have noticed the trending hashtag #metoo coming across their newsfeed in posts from friends and family.

A movement originally started by Tarana Burke, the hashtag went viral thanks to actress Alyssa Milano. Milano made a Twitter post stating, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Milano made the post at the suggestion of a friend, who thought that if everyone who experienced assault or harassment wrote “me too” as a status, people could really see the magnitude of the problem in society today.

With over 25,000 retweets and nearly 70,000 responses to her post, people from all walks of life are speaking up about their personal experiences. On Facebook, the hashtag was shared in more than 12 million posts and reactions in the first 24 hours, according to the Associated Press. Last week, Twitter reported that so far the hashtag had been used 825,000 times on the platform. These colossal numbers speak for themselves in showing the magnitude of sexual assault in today’s world.

Burke started the Me Too Movement after being approached by a young victim of sexual assault in 1996, and decided to try to give women a sense of empowerment from the understanding that they are not alone in their circumstances. By showing a united front, she hoped to connect people who may have felt isolated by things beyond their control, and provide resources for those who needed them.

From the Me Too website, “The power of empathy is sorely undervalued. Oftentimes young women who have been violated in any of the aforementioned areas feel shame, isolation and powerlessness. In several cultures, women of color are encouraged to keep situations like these hidden; and in some communities the prevalence is so widespread that the behavior has been normalized. Our position is that young women from low wealth backgrounds run the risk of being left feeling voiceless when they don’t see themselves properly represented by various advocate groups. The Me Too Movement seeks to fill in those gaps and remove cultural barriers to resources for help and healing.”

Burke shared on Twitter, “ Today I have watched women on social media disclose their stories using the hashtag #metoo. It made my heart swell to see women using this idea – one that we call ‘empowerment through empathy’ to not only show the world how widespread and pervasive sexual violence is, but also to let other survivors know they are not alone. The point of the work we’ve done over the last decade with the ‘me too movement’ is to let women, particularly young women of color, know that they are not alone – it’s a movement. It’s beyond a hashtag. It’s the start of a larger conversation and a movement for radical community healing. Join us.”

For more information on the movement and what it stands for, visit http://metoo.support/.

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