Over the weekend, the hashtag MeToo began circulating on various social media platforms.
Its purpose? To demonstrate the scale and severity with which sexual harassment and assault occurs, as well as giving women a platform to share their experiences.
While the campaign has been met with support from millions including a number of high-profile female stars, there's no doubt that such a poignant campaign has the capacity to impact negatively on survivors of sexual violence.
Reaching out to Slate's column, Dear Prudence, one woman highlighted the effect the campaign has had on her since its creation in recent days.
"I don’t know how to deal with #MeToo as a rape survivor. I’m feeling triggered and angry," she wrote.
"Social media is a big part of my job, so I can’t just turn it off all day, but I’m not sure what to do. I keep finding myself going to the bathroom and sobbing."
It really hurts my heart that women have to post their #metoo story for us to grasp the gravity of rape culture.
— Erin Caldarera (@erin_caldarera) October 17, 2017
Tapping into a concern many women felt when deciding whether to contribute to the conversation, the woman admitted that she feels a pressure to come forward with her own story of assault.
"My boss posted on our Facebook page about how “proud” he was of all the women who’ve been sharing their stories and I almost lost it. I haven’t talked to many people about what happened to me, including several members of my family, and I don’t want to “come out” as a survivor through a hashtag."
"At the same time, I really want to respond. I want to tell people that survivors don’t owe them their stories. I don’t want people to come away from this display of mutual pain and think that by posting a hashtag, they’ve done enough," she reasoned.
I don’t wish to share my stories and details of who, what and when because some are too painful. BUT I stand with you all!
— Zara Canfield (@zaracanfield) October 17, 2017
While acknowledging the motivation behind the campaign, she says she can't help but feel her experience has become part of little more than a trendy viral fad.
"I understand why people would want to post, but it just makes me furious. It makes me feel like everything I’ve gone through has been reduced down to a hashtag so that it can trend on social media."
Reminder that 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.
— Alexis Benveniste (@apbenven) October 16, 2017
Responding to the woman, Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, insisted she was under no pressure to tell her story nor was she obliged to contribute to the campaign.
"You are not obligated to share your own trauma simply because there is a social media campaign going on. If absolutely nothing else, I hope you know that you do not ever have to share your story unless you feel safe and comfortable doing so, and you want to share your story," she advised.
Indeed, Irish author, Louise O'Neill touched on the same issue in her latest Instagram post earlier today.
I’ve been a little wary about #MeToo because it feels like it’s asking women, once again, to share our most traumatizing experiences in order to convince the world that our humanity deserves to be respected too. But…it’s still important, despite my reservations. The #MeToo movement shows how devastatingly common sexual assault and harassment is. I don’t know any woman who hasn’t experienced it to some degree, whether it’s been followed home late at night, being groped in a bar, getting screamed at on the streets, or someone simply not believing that your “no, no, I don’t want to” was worthy of being heard. It’s everywhere and it’s happening to every woman in some capacity, regardless of age, race, religion. It doesn’t matter how attractive or ‘unattractive’ she is deemed to be, or what she was wearing. Rape has nothing to do with sex. It is about power. It is about dominance. It’s about taking what you want from another person without their consent, simply because you can. #MeToo
"I’ve been a little wary about #MeToo because it feels like it’s asking women, once again, to share our most traumatizing experiences in order to convince the world that our humanity deserves to be respected too. But…it’s still important, despite my reservations," she wrote as part of a lengthy assessment of the campaign.
Reaching out to anyone who feels pressure to contribute to the conversation, Louise wrote: "You don’t owe anyone your story and I don’t think any woman who has shared theirs would expect you to do the same. We’re all in this together."
If you have been the victim of sexual violence, you can contact the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre for support right here.