Millions of people in the US are sexually assaulted and harassed. Sexual violence particularly inflicts suffering and pain on females, low-income individuals, people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and those who live with a disability.
The #MeToo movement sparked a nationwide conversation about sexual violence in 2017 after a number of women in Hollywood came forward with accusations of sexual harassment and assault. The University of California San Diego Center on Gender Equity and Health recently published Measuring #MeToo to document and call attention to the long-term effects of sexual violence on survivors.
The study defined sexual assault as any sexual act forced on someone against their will. Sexual harassment was defined by 14 different actions categorized as physical and verbal aggression and cyber sexual harassment. This nationally representative survey gathered demographic information and data about enduring sexual harassment and assault; 1,182 women and 1,037 men were surveyed.
Eighty-one percent of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime. The most common repercussions were anxiety or depression (30% female, 18% male). In response to harassment or assault, women and men frequently reported altering a walking route or regular routine (23% female, 18% male), and ending a relationship (22% female, 16% male). Gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals and people with disabilities were more likely to make such changes.
The report reminds us that sexual violence can happen to anyone and has both short-term and lasting effects.
Databyte via Measuring #MeToo: A National Study on Sexual Harassment and Assault. UC San Diego Center on Gender Equity and Health and Stop Street Harassment, 2019.