A year after #MeToo went viral, women reflect on progress made

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COLUMBIA - The #MeToo movement celebrated one year of supporting sexual violence survivors Friday.

#MeToo gained popularity when women came forward about sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. 

"With #MeToo I think it brought a lot more visibility to people who don't realize how many men and women are affected by sexual assault and harassment in general," said Rachel Foster, an advocate for women. 

Tarana Burke founded Me Too in 2006 to help survivors of sexual violence. Her main focus was on women of color and women from marginalized communities. 

"I think it's important to take a step back to remember that #MeToo didn't first appear on the Internet," said Matthew Huffman, public affairs director of Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. "Often times what is lost are those more marginalized voices which are the roots of Me Too." 

As soon as the New York Time's published its article about Weinstein's sexual harassment, women and men took to social media to tell their stories using the hashtag #MeToo. 

"It creates an informal setting for people to get together and say 'Hey, I hear you. I support you. I'm with you. I've never met you, but I know you,'" said University of Missouri student Tory Hollingsworth. 

Huffman said social media is an important platform for survivors to tell their stories.

"I think a lot of people find connection and community through social media," he said. "And through social media, we are able to hear more voices."

Burke's original vision for Me Too was to form a network of survivors to advocate against sexual violence in their local communities. 

"The Me Too movement has helped me be seen as a human being and not what happened to me," Foster said. 

Hollingsworth said the movement helped to de-stigmatize the act of surviving sexual violence. 

"It meshes our culture together, because you are combining the social media outlet with the stories of humans," she said. 

Moving forward, Huffman said society should be focused on prevention.

"It speaks to a larger need of us really changing a culture and changing the overarching attitude of the opinions, thoughts, and feelings we have around sexual violence in general," he said. 

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