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#MeToo: Sexual abuse stories around the world pour out on social media

Actress Alyssa Milano started campaign

Washington, United States | AFP |  Celebrities and everyday people flooded social media with personal accounts of sexual assault and harassment Monday, responding to calls to break the culture of silence around such abuse.

The massive global response was triggered by allegations recently made public against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who is accused of rape and abuse dating back decades.

People shared stories and offered support under multiple hashtags, including #MeToo in English, #balancetonporc (“Rat out your pig”) in French, and #quellavoltache (“That time that”) in Italian.

American actress Alyssa Milano sparked the outpouring with a simple Twitter request Sunday that women respond “me too” if they have also been sexually harassed or assaulted.

Tens of thousands of people replied, making #MeToo the top trending topic.

The posts continued to accumulate Monday, with the intensity of the social media response sharply underscoring the problem’s breadth — implicating fashion, entertainment, politics and the lives of everyday people.

Monica Lewinsky — who was at the center of the White House sex scandal in the 1990s leading to the impeachment trial of former US President Bill Clinton — simply tweeted the hashtag #MeToo without comment.

– More celebrities chime in –

Responding to Milano’s call, Lady Gaga and Sheryl Crow were among those from the music world tweeting their support.

Crow shared her experience of improper behavior by a manager “on my first big tour as a backup singer.”

“When I went to a lawyer, he told me to suck it up bc the guy could do a lot for me,” Crow tweeted, “so I wrote songs about it on my first record.”

Actress Evan Rachel Wood wrote of being raped more than once, writing, “I instinctually shut down. My body remembered, so it protected me. I disappeared. #metoo.”

Prior to Milano’s call, American fashion model Cameron Russell took to Instagram last week asking her followers to share experiences of sexual abuse in her industry, using the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse.

She has been tweeting some of the hundreds of responses, anonymous stories ranging from recent experiences to some dating back two decades — primarily involving women, sometimes minors and occasionally men.

“Hearing about #harveyweinstein this week has sparked conversations about how widespread and how familiar his behavior is,” the model and activist wrote.

“We are speaking to each other, we are speaking up, we are speaking to lawyers, and we are speaking to well-resourced reporters.”

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