Chances are, the words "me too" have been popping up on your social media feed for months now, used as a way for sexual assault and harassment victims to share their stories with the online community. Although the height of the movement has come and gone, its roots and reverberations are still making an impact nationwide.
According to The New York Times, the messages started appearing frequently on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on Oct. 15, 2017, after actress Alyssa Milano posted a screenshot proposing the movement with the caption "If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet." Technically though, the campaign started approximately a decade ago when activist Tarana Burke began using the words "me too" to spread healing messages to survivors of trauma. Burke's youth organization, Just Be Inc., said the movement was intended to give victims of sexual abuse, assault, or exploitation a sense of empowerment, and remind them that they aren't alone. Ten years later, that essence remains in Burke's words.
Adriane Bang, a licensed master social worker and director for the Gender Equity Center at Boise State University, said the vagueness of the hashtag is one of its strengths.
"The #metoo movement isn't specific to rape or sexual harassment or other forms of sexual violence. This generality allows for some privacy in sharing the hashtag as a survivor—as readers don't know exactly what type of issue the poster has experienced," said Bang. "As someone who does violence education as a part of their job, I can attest that folks who don't regularly engage in conversations about violence often seem to find conversations like this difficult to start, and they feel at a loss for words in how to respond to a disclosure. Interacting with this hashtag can be a door into that conversation."
Kelly Miller, executive director of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, said her organization has seen an increase in survivors seeking assistance since the local #metoo movement began. However, she pointed out that the time of year could also have been a factor in the uptick in those looking for help.
"We know from research that Idaho continues to have a significantly higher rate of sexual assault among high school students, and that college sexual assault is at its peak in the fall semester," said Miller.