#MeToo increased awareness about sexual harassment: study

Even the searches related to reporting sexual assault and preventive training on sexual harassment were 30 percent higher during that same period.

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Many ladies have utilized the #MeToo hashtag to stand up against sexual harassment and assault during the past year. This #MeToo move has sparked more than a mere conversation about sexual abuse in countries including US, India, etc., suggests a study.

According to a study Google looks for data about sexual harassment and assualt—and in addition, revealing or counteracting such conduct—spiked in the months after actress Alyssa Milano brought the #MeToo movement new attention in October 2017.

Senior researcher John Ayers said, “Our study reveals that even months after the beginning of #MeToo, millions more than otherwise expected are seeking out help for sexual violence online. Revealing this record-setting and sustained engagement is a call to action for the nation.”

“Searches related to sexual harassment and assault were 51 percent higher than expected between Oct. 15, 2017 and June 15, 2018.”

Searches related to reporting sexual assault and preventive training on sexual harassment were 30 percent higher during that same period.

Ayers said, “#MeToo is not the first movement to empower victims of sexual violence, but what is unique compared to past movements is #MeToo’s staying power. Eight months since the initiation of #MeToo, millions more than expected are seeking out help for sexual violence online. #MeToo’s sustainability and our study alerting leaders to this could yield major wins for the nation’s public health.”

Karestan Koenen, a professor of psychiatric epidemiology with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston said, “These findings verify that #MeToo made a real difference in terms of raising awareness and prompting action.”

“Anecdotally, we’ve known it’s made a difference. I feel like this is some of the first real data we have that these aren’t just anecdotes, that this movement is making a huge difference.”

Sharyn Tejani, director of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund reported, “The National Women’s Law Center created the defense fund in January 2018, in the wake of #MeToo.”

“Since then, over 3,800 people have reached out to us seeking assistance for workplace sexual harassment. People send us requests for assistance online, and so it does seem like people are using online tools. We’ve received many more requests for assistance than we ever thought we would receive.”

Tejani has been on the receiving end of those Google searches.

Scientists found that the searches related to reporting or preventing sexual harassment to be most promising.

Koenen said, “As a trauma psychologist, I know sharing one’s sexual assault experiences can be very validating and healing for people, but beyond that, what we want to see is change. That’s the most exciting finding to me because it’s going beyond all of us sharing this experience. Maybe people are taking action that will really result in change.”

Ayers said, “The response to the #MeToo movement has revealed a huge public health problem in the United States that must be addressed.”

“Survivors face serious health consequences, including physical injury, PTSD symptoms, and emotional trauma. Yet public investments in preventing and responding to sexual violence is disproportionately small compared with other health issues. With millions more than ever voicing their needs, our nation’s leaders should respond by investing in enhanced prevention training and improving resources for survivors.”

The study has published this Dec. 21 in JAMA Internal Medicine.