WARNING: This article discusses sexual assault. 

The floodgates have well and truly been opened. Since the exposé on Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and his decades-long predatory campaign of intimidation, sexual assault, coercion and manipulation of the women he worked with, women everywhere have been coming forward with allegations – not just about Weinstein, but about dozens of men in the entertainment industry.

Now, thanks to a tweet by actor Alyssa Milano, thousands of women are demonstrating just how widespread the problem of sexual assault and harassment really is.

Milano tweeted the words “me too“, and the simple phrase has been echoed back by more than 25,000 people on Twitter, and countless others on Facebook.

It seems, to me, blindingly obvious that sexual harassment and assault is an epidemic. My Facebook feed is flooded with “me too” posts. Every single woman I know, myself included, has been harassed or assaulted. My mother, my sister, all of my friends.Many men I know have been harassed and assaulted as well – gay and straight, cis, trans and non-binary.

Being harassed and assaulted ruins things. It’s life-altering. It fucks up your career and your future and the way you go about your days. It’s overwhelming and it’s unavoidable and it’s exhausting and depressing and self confidence-destroying. It’s fucked.

There is a pernicious thread of domination that runs through society, appearing in our lives as an uninvited shoulder rub from a boss, a leg touch from a client, a shout from a passing car, a stream of ignored “no“s. All these invasions are, in one way or another, assertions of someone’s power over you – power that’s unearned and undeserved.

Weinstein’s disgrace is the start of unpicking that thread, and #MeToo is a way to keep on pulling at it. This shit is rampant and it’s time for things to change.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault or harassment, please get in touch with 1800 RESPECT

Image: Getty Images / Randy Shropshire