#MeToo – Assessing The Role Of Social Media In Sexual Abuse

"This is a conversation we need to have."

by Caroline Kepler, CDAE Public Communication major at the University of Vermont.

Recently, the hashtag #MeToo swept the globe, generating millions of women to speak up about sexual injustices. After 24 hours, #MeToo was shared 650,000 times, 24 hours later it was shared 1.2 million times around the world (Michelle Wolf). In countries all around the world, #MeToo filled social media pages, highlighting sexual assault & sexual harassment happen too often. One in four women has been sexually assaulted, but every woman has experienced sexual harassment in some form. Cat calling, inappropriate invasion of space, rape. Women are being taken advantage of. It took the exposure of Harvey Weinstein to get women across the world to feel inspired to speak up.

To start, when people feel empowered to come forward they should do so. However, a social media campaign getting women to open publicly about vulnerable situations they have been in is an inappropriate request. Women everywhere being re-traumatized and triggered to highly sensitive past experiences. Giving Facebook friends the opportunity to comment and question on traumatizing events, friends who could be the problem. “For me, #Me too is a trigger because I really don’t want to dig up all my unresolved feelings and put them out there in public,’ she explained. ‘I don’t want my Facebook acquaintances to know my most personal experiences, and I don’t want to see their stupid sad emoji reactions’” (CNN). To encourage women to put their most damaging memories on a public space, out of the blue, because of a social media trend, isn’t the support this issue needs.

I’m not saying this wasn’t a powerful movement – sexual injustice needs to be addressed ASAP. Media movement are not encouraging men to come forward as assailants, but expecting women to come forward as victims. This is a conversation we need to have, as CNN explains, “from the predatory remarks on the street, unsolicited groping and rubbing in dance clubs, to inappropriate childhood ‘games’ with an older and trusted person, to a family member locking me in his bedroom to do things I’d rather not remember. I felt nauseous, yet what had happened to me was mild compared to many others.” (CNN) No situation is comparable, and #MeToo also deterred women from sharing because they felt their situation was ‘not as bad as others’. Abuse is abuse. “Making your history public should only be done when you feel resourced enough to tolerate the effects of the disclosure.” “It’s not heroic; it’s retraumatizing.” (CNN).




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