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#METOO is a Twitter trend where women (and men) share stories about their experiences of sexual assault.

  • Tweets from more than 8,000 women including Alyssa Milano, Anna Paquin and MP Stella Creasy.

  • Candid revelations from women (and men) about their experiences.

  • Lots of people using the hashtag offering advice to those looking to support victims.

  • Overwhelming sense of unity about the movement as a whole.

The news regarding Harvey Weinstein has reinvigorated the debate about sexual assault during the past two weeks, though the question remains, what are we doing about it?

Without presuming to attack those that feel that a simple tweet of sympathy and support is enough – is that really all you’re capable of?

The #METOO movement is crucial in highlighting the epidemic of sexual assault – and let’s not kid ourselves – it really is that serious. But more needs to be done by people sympathising with the victims. This is an issue of behavioural attitudes and a lust for power. It is so easy to laugh off systematic sexism as hijinx or banter, but now more than ever it is imperative that you speak and act out against actions that threaten someone’s liberty.

YOU are the difference between someone’s freedom and personal space being violated and a potential perpetrator understanding the error of their ways. If in doubt, always speak up at the defence of someone in a vulnerable situation.

The #METOO movement itself displays a warming, encouraging sense of unity for victims, and makes for a safe environment for people to discuss their traumas.

The tag also includes a great many people tweeting words of wisdom and advice for those that support the victims of sexual abuse but perhaps don’t know how to defend them in an appropriate manner.

Another important issue to consider here is that anyone of any creed, culture or gender can be a victim of sexual assault. To suggest otherwise only serves to demonise those that you would not often consider to be the archetypal victim. An overtly masculine man can be vulnerable to sexual assault much the same as an outwardly feminine woman. There is no discrepancy between victims – they have all faced similar trauma at the hands of someone exploiting their vulnerability. Demonising these people or rubbishing their experiences on the basis that you would not expect them to be attacked makes you part of a wider problem of people that do not understand the background of sexual abuse.

Just as much as this, it is crucial that we endeavour as a collective society to understand what inherently provokes the behaviour that results in sexual abuse, so that we are more appropriately capable of addressing future issues and educating ourselves and others accordingly.

Former Vice-President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, made the pertinent point last week that sexual assault has nothing at all to do with sex. It is all about the perpetrator establishing a position of dominance.

With this in mind, it becomes easier to see that anyone can be vulnerable to sexual abuse. If you see any signs – stand up for the victims, you could just save a life.

If you or anyone that you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, seek out help from the contact information below.

  • Rape Crisis - Helpline: 0808 802 9999

  • Victim Support - Helpline: 0808 168 9111

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