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How to Build on the Momentum of the #MeToo Movement

The most recent sexual harassment and assault scandal is centered in Hollywood yet the scope of sexual violence extends far beyond California. Sexual violence, in all its forms, is a widespread societal issue. The #MeToo social media campaign helped elevate the magnitude of sexual violence into national conversation, and served as a confirmation that nearly every woman, and many men, have experienced some form of sexual violence. While many have come forward as part of the #MeToo movement to share their experience, many others have felt it too difficult to publicly share their experience and relive the trauma of sexual violence.

Historically, marginalized and disenfranchised groups used #MeToo to tell the stories that are often silenced or left out of national dialog as the roots of the #MeToo movement began a decade ago by a black woman in an effort to unify those who have been victimized by sexual violence, and promote healing, particularly for women of color.

The attention the #MeToo campaign has garnered should also be put into context with statistics of reported sexual assaults. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey estimates that 1 in 5 women are raped in their lifetime, and 1 in 2 have experienced sexual violence other than rape. It is estimated that 1 in 59 men are raped in their lifetime, and 1 in 5 men experience some form of sexual violence other than rape. Information from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report indicate the number of rapes reported to law enforcement have increased over the last 10 years. This is not necessarily an increase in cases, but an increase in people speaking out. Along with an increase in the number of people sharing their experiences of sexual violence, there has been an increase in the number of dedicated resources given to support survivors, and to prevent sexual violence from occurring in the first place.

Large scale movements like the #MeToo campaign can be empowering and also leave people feeling overwhelmed–how can I, as an individual, change rape culture? Building on the momentum of the #MeToo campaign, we can work to end sexual violence by challenging rape culture in our daily lives: educating ourselves about sexual violence and community resources; talking with our family and friends about healthy sexuality, communication and consent; and using our collective voice to change how our communities view sexual violence by influencing how policies, practices, and laws are enforced. 

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