#MeToo trending: Women highlight sexual assault, harassment

Alyssa Milano arrives at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards Entertainment Weekly pre party at the Sunset Tower Hotel on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Are you watching the #MeToo trend take off on social media? 

Thousands of women are identifying themselves as victims of sexual harassment or assault following a call to action from none other than, Alyssa Milano.

Milano sent out a tweet Sunday in the ongoing aftermath of the downfall of Harvey Weinstein that snowballed when many high-profile women in Hollywood came forward to detail decades of misconduct and sexual abuse allegations at the hands of the film producer.

Milano passed along a suggestion from a friend on Sunday that women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted post "me too" to "give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem."

Now, women across social media platforms have made their voices heard, at least within the digital realm, and are speaking out on the enabling of predatory behavior. 

The campaign quickly trended on Twitter and Facebook, with notable names like Lady Gaga, Monica Lewinsky and Rosario Dawson identifying themselves as victims. Others shared personal stories.

"Being raped once made it easier to be raped again. I instinctually shut down. My body remembered, so it protected me. I disappeared. (hash)metoo," actress Evan Rachel Wood wrote as part of a series of tweets on her experience. "Sharing my stories and feeling less alone really helps. So thank you for listening." 

Some women weighed in with stories of assaults while in the military, gang rapes and catcalls.

Following Rose McGowan's allegation that Weinstein raped her, which led to her being temporarily silenced on Twitter, Milano's (McGowan's co-star from the TV series Charmed) request had been re-tweeted more than 20,000 times as of this writing.   

Milano called the Weinstein allegations "disturbing" in an essay last week, but added that she had been reluctant to comment publicly because of her friendship with Weinstein's wife, Georgina Chapman.

"I am constantly part of this conversation even if I don't publicly comment on specific scandals," she wrote. "Sexual harassment and assault in the workplace are not just about Harvey Weinstein. We must change things in general. We must do better for women everywhere."

It has been a watershed moment of sorts for transparency and sexual assault. President Trump himself faces a subpoena for a sexual assault lawsuit where a former female contestant on 'The Apprentice' accuses him of unwanted groping and kissing her. 

Weinstein has since been ousted from his production company and has been publicly shamed. 

But the stories women are sharing reference the pervasive nature of sexual harassment and how rampant it is in the workplace beyond Hollywood. Recent stories from Uber and Silicon Valley come to mind and bring up the notion of the 'boy's club' mentality in these spaces. 

If you haven't noticed much in your own social media feed, one writer notes, "If a woman didn't post #MeToo, it doesn't mean she wasn't sexually assaulted or harassed. Survivors don't owe you their story." 

A similar social media campaign is playing out on Instagram among models who are sharing stories of abuse and harassment in the fashion industry.

Model Cameron Russell put out a post four days ago offering help to models and has been deluged with responses. She has shared many on her Instagram feed, blacking out identifying factors but leaving the stories otherwise alone. Some women who reported unwanted touching and worse said hearing from their sister models has brought long-buried recollections to mind.

The effort has launched the hashtag "MyJobShouldNotInclude Abuse."

Wire services contributed to this report