5 years have passed since the #MeToo movement began in the US. It has since become a global phenomenon, sparking conversation about sexual harassment and abuse.
In 2017, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted ‘#MeToo’ when Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual assault and encouraged others who had been sexually harassed or assaulted to do the same. Since then, more than 80 women have come forward with accusations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein. 5 years later, he has been found guilty in his second sex crimes trial.
For many, #MeToo has become shorthand for solidarity with victims who have faced their abusers. It has encouraged and given the strength to others to do the same.
Since conversations began, many people have developed a better understanding of what constitutes sexual abuse. People have reframed their past experiences after hearing about others’ experiences, identifying themselves as survivors and not just victims of abuse.
What has changed since #MeToo?
The #MeToo movement has had a positive impact and created many societal shifts, such as:
- An increased public awareness of sexual assault
- People feeling more empowered to speak up about their experiences
- Many sexual violence perpetrators being brought to justice
- Enhanced protections for people within UK industries
- Individuals and organisations identifying sexual misconduct, harassment and assault, which is often disregarded as ‘banter’.
The #MeToo movement has created a ripple effect, prompting organisations and industries to address sexual harassment and abuse across the UK:
- Time’s Up UK – A UK charity founded in 2017 to fight sexual harassment in the workplace.
- #SpeakingOut was used on social media as a hashtag to expose sexual misconduct in British professional wrestling’s version of the #MeToo movement.
- The ‘#GymnastsAlliance movement was created following gymnasts reporting abuse by Larry Nassar. The Netflix documentary ‘A Athlete’ was released in 2020 to put spotlight on the efforts to bring Nassar to justice.
- The ‘Everyone’s Invited’ website was created for children as a safe place for survivors to anonymously share their stories of abuse at schools.
- Survivor Charlie Webster investigated the shocking culture surrounding UK sports and its #MeToo reckoning in the BBC documentary ‘Nowhere To Run’.
- Unprecedented numbers of current and former military servicewomen have submitted written evidence which detailed claims of abuse, including but not limited to sexual abuse.
- An Independent Culture Review of London Fire Brigade was carried out following the tragic death of firefighter, Jaden Matthew Francois-Esprit, who took his own life. His family were concerned that he’d been bullied throughout his service. This has led to sustained criticism that the Brigade has a problem with racism and struggles with bullying and discrimination.
Where there is power, there is the potential for abuse of power. The many manifestations of the #MeToo movement demonstrate that people have come together globally to prevent others from experiencing sexual assault and to combat people in power silencing survivors.
Whether or not people choose to report sexual assault, the #MeToo movement has given a platform for voices to be heard.
At Simpson Millar, our Abuse Solicitors are here to support by pursuing claims against individuals, public bodies, and local authorities on behalf of survivors of abuse.
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