When I was in China a few years ago, I stood on a public bus one day with some other girl friends on our way into town. The bus was relatively empty, so there was a lot of space to spread out. One older man ignored that and decided to come stand close by me and to press himself up against me as I stood there. My attempts to subtly move away were fruitless; he would just move even closer each time I stepped away. I only escaped when we got off at our bus stop.
This story is not unique.
In the United States, someone is sexually harassed or assaulted every 98 seconds. 
Sexual harassment is a serious issue worldwide. Over the past few days, the hashtag #metoo has gone viral on social media in America, bringing more attention to the issue.
The social media trend began with a Twitter post from Alissa Milano, which read, “Me too. Suggested by a friend: ‘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.’”
She then encouraged those who had been sexually harassed or assaulted to write “me too” on their own pages. While the viral post is very recent, the “me too” movement was started by Tarana Burke, the founder of Girls for Gender Equity, in 2006.
Although the viral posts will likely soon die out, it is important for us to remember and act on the larger movement. This viral campaign amplifies the acceleration of Tarana Burke’s movement.
- Posting “me too” all over the Internet forces people to acknowledge both the prevalence and relevance of sexual harassment. Scrolling through Facebook and encountering a feed dominated by “me too” posts from your sisters, aunts, friends, and others, writing sexual assault off as a problem that does not happen around you becomes unjustifiable. Campaigns such as this open or reopen dialogue about sexual assault and harassment. They force people who would not otherwise have thought about the issue, or had denied that it was a problem, to become aware of its prevalence
- The campaign creates a community and a forum for survivors of sexual assault. who have experienced sexual assault feel a stronger sense of solidarity and validation when they get on their social media pages and see that so many others have had similar experiences. Shared experiences may encourage others to open up about their own encounters with sexual assault, and to begin to find the reparations and healing they need.
- A viral campaign has the potential to affect change by moving both survivors and allies to act together. Increased awareness and survivor solidarity motivates both the search for more information on sexual harassment and actions to prevent it. This could involve speaking up against harassment on a public bus, advocating for policy change, joining the efforts of an organization, or engaging in supportive conversations with people in your own life who have experienced sexual assault. When a repressed group recognizes their numbers, fear is reduced and action becomes more possible.
Other resources exist to disseminate information about sexual assault and harassment. The WomanStats database, for example, provides a centralized location to read about the specific issues surrounding sexual assault in countries around the world. The LRW variables in the database provide qualitative and quantitative information on the prevalence of sexual assault, laws against sexual assault, and other practices and traditions that contribute to a country’s prevalence of sexual assault.
Sexual assault is a serious issue that needs to be addressed worldwide. The “me too” campaign is a small piece of a larger movement, but any effort to increase awareness of, and activism for, the survivors of sexual harassment and assault is a welcome undertaking.
 Vagianos, Alanna. “30 Alarming Statistics That Show The Reality Of Sexual Violence In America.” (2017). https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sexual-assault-statistics_us_58e24c14e4b0c777f788d24f