Over the past few days, my Facebook and Twitter have been filling up with thousands of men and women posting the phrase “me too.” It simultaneously makes me happy to see that there are so many coming together to raise awareness, but also breaks my heart at how many people have experienced sexual assault.
The #MeToo campaign went viral after Alyssa Milano posted this tweet:
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
The hashtag saw more than half a million tweets in its first 24 hours. It is sharing the message that victims are not alone and that we must believe their stories.
The original movement was started by Tarana Burke of Just Be Inc. She was a youth worker and, when a young girl opened up about the sexual assault she was experiencing at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend, Burke was so ashamed and hurt by her own personal experience with the assault that she couldn’t even whisper the words, “Me too.” She struggled with this afterward, feeling as though she had shut the girl down and made her think that silence would have been better, but then realized that, sometimes, we just need to know we are not alone.
Sexual assault and abuse are everywhere. From Hollywood casting couches to schools to our streets. The #MeToo movement shows the magnitude of this problem. As I scroll through my timeline, it seems like I should be asking “who hasn’t” rather than “me too” and that disgusts me.
Because of me too.
I’ve been catcalled. I’ve been groped. I’ve been kissed when I said no. I’ve been drugged at a party. I’ve been sexually assaulted more times than I care to count and yet I have never once told anyone because I am too afraid that people won’t believe me.
I remember being 12, walking home from school, and having a 40-year-old man drive by and yell out “nice ass” as I ran as fast as I could to get home without him following me.
I remember being 16, having a co-worker corner me and say I couldn’t leave unless I gave him a kiss. I remember freezing as he moved in towards me. I remember saying I didn’t want to and him telling me:
“Yes, you do.”
I remember being 18, going to a party, and waking up in the hospital the next morning to the nurse telling me that I had been drugged the night before, but my friends had brought me in before anything bad could happen. I remember it being easier to have my friends upset with me for drinking too much than to tell them that he had put something in my drink.
People are sharing their stories and showing that it didn’t matter what they wore or how many times they said no. Sexual assault still happens. Men, women, children, members of the LGBTQ community—sexual assault is everywhere and none of us deserve it.
For every person sharing the #MeToo movement, there are many more who have been affected. We don’t owe it to anyone to explain what happened to us. We don’t have to prove it happened because we know it did. Sexual assault is real. It is happening. And it is a problem.
People all over the world are banding together to speak out:
I'm a Muslim and i cover myself from head to toe, don't let anyone tell you that it's because of the way you dressed. #MeToo
— ? (@Curiousmxnd) October 16, 2017
To everyone who has come forward with #MeToo, thank you for your courage. To all survivors, know that you are not alone.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 16, 2017
Before we all forget about #metoo
It's not your fault.
You can talk about it.
It was as bad as it was.
And you have the right to heal.
— Najwa Zebian (@najwazebian) October 18, 2017
#metoo I am a man but I am a man that was raped when I was 17 years old. Sexual assault happens to all genders and it has to stop.
— Ricky Cantwell (@Ricky_Cantwell) October 17, 2017
Reminder that if a woman didn't post #MeToo, it doesn't mean she wasn't sexually assaulted or harassed. Survivors don't owe you their story.
— Alexis Benveniste ? (@apbenven) October 16, 2017
Fathers, teach your sons. So new generations of women don’t have to say #MeToo
— Liam O'Brien (@VoiceOfOBrien) October 16, 2017
When it comes to the #MeToo movement, I see men wondering what they can “do to help.” This is my list.
1. Be quiet.
4. Lead/teach young men by example.
5. Stand up to friends and family who act in an abusive manner.
6. Stand behind women, not in front.
— Nathan Thompson (@natepthomps) October 16, 2017
It is up to all of us to create a world where we no longer have to say, “me too.” We must stand up for each other. Don’t let rape jokes and sexist comments pass as if they are okay. If someone discloses something to you, don’t ask “what were you wearing” or “did you actually say no.” Tell them that you believe them and ask them what you can do to help.
Sexual assault is never okay. Consent is necessary. The choice is necessary. The power to say no and be heard are necessary.
This is everyone’s responsibility.