#MeToo: Harvey Weinstein case moves thousands to tell their own stories of abuse

Women break their silence

(iStock/Lily illustration)

Adapted from a story by The Washington Post’s Samantha Schmidt.

Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

She urged any women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted to write two words on Twitter: “Me too.”

“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem,” wrote the actor.

Milano starred in “Charmed” alongside Rose McGowan, one of film producer Harvey Weinstein’s accusers. She is also friends with Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, and wrote in a blog post that she was sickened by the “disturbing” sexual abuse allegations against him.

Women listened. Within hours, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing in droves.

By 4 a.m. Monday, more than 200,000 #metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count. The stories came pouring forth on Facebook as well with nearly 80,000 people said to be “talking about this” by the wee hours Monday.

Actress Alyssa Milano called on women to speak up about surviving sexual assault by using the hashtag “me too” on Oct. 15. Here are other times people used Twitter to talk about their own sexual abuse stories. (Amber Ferguson/The Washington Post)

The tweets

  • “#MeToo When I served in the military,” tweeted one woman. “More than a few times. I stayed silent for self preservation. I regret it daily.”
  • “I imagine there are teen girls who haven’t told their parents they’ve been threatened, groped, even WORSE just like I didn’t,” wrote another.
  • “I have been raped twice in my life,” tweeted one woman, “stalked four times and was threatened with my life when I tried to speak out @ 14.”
  • There was the woman who said she was assaulted by a man who pretended to work at a local YMCA, and the woman who said she was groped in an elevator by a superior who was nearly two decades older. “I never told anyone,” she said.
  • Another recounted how in the sixth grade, a group of boys held her up against a wall as they pulled up her shirt to “see if I stuffed my bra with Charmin or Bounty.”
  • “The boys barely got a slap on the wrist but I was socially ostracized because I ‘couldn’t take a joke,’” she said.
  • A number of men shared their stories as well, including one who said he was raped by two men in high school and has never gotten over it.

Support from allies

Celebrity tweets

#MyHarveyWeinstein

On October 5, the day the New York Times expose revealed the claims against Weinstein, thousands of people took to Twitter to share their own encounters with sexual harassment in the workplace, using the hashtag #MyHarveyWeinstein.

Milano’s statement

Milano spoke out against Weinstein on her website, Patriot not Partisan, on Oct. 9, four days after the New York Times story was published.

She said the statement was “complicated” for personal reasons, including the fact that she is good friends with Weinstein’s wife, who has since said she is leaving the film producer. The Weinsteins also have two young children Milano’s children have known their entire lives, Milano wrote.

“It is because of my love” for Weinstein’s wife and children “that I haven’t publicly commented on this until now,” Milano wrote. “Please don’t confuse my silence for anything other than respect for a dear friend and her beautiful children.”

“This is not an uncommon occurrence,” she added. “This is a sick culture. Men like Harvey Weinstein are around every corner. Men who undermine women and their strength, ability and intelligence exist everywhere.”
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