#MeToo: Women share harrowing accounts of sexual assault, harassment 

2:19 p.m Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 National/World News

A powerful two-word social media campaign is revealing the scope of sexual harassment as thousands of people — mostly women — took to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to share their personal accounts over the weekend.

» RELATED: Sexual harassment in the workplace: What is it, how to report it and more you should know

It all began with a tweet from actress Alyssa Milano, calling all who have experienced sexual harassment to respond with “Me too.”

As of Monday morning, more than 40,000 people replied to Milano’s tweet. Hundreds of thousands more joined in with the hashtag #MeToo.

» RELATED: Harvey Weinstein booted from film academy

Celebrities Evan Rachel Wood and Lady Gaga participated as well.

Soon, the campaign traveled from Twitter to other social platforms, including Facebook.

» RELATED: Jane Fonda on Harvey Weinstein: ‘I’m ashamed I didn’t say anything’

Many told stories of harassment during childhood, their teen years, adulthood and several more shared multiple accounts.

Perpetrators were often trusted clergy, family members, strangers, coworkers, authority figures or friends.

» RELATED: In Weinstein saga, Rose McGowan emerges as powerful voice

Some victims of sexual harassment said the social media campaign gave them the courage to speak up.

» RELATED: Harvey Weinstein’s wife Georgina Chapman leaving him amid sexual harassment allegations

Others spoke up for those who chose not to publicly participate.

» RELATED: Designer Donna Karan apologizes after defending Harvey Weinstein

The magnitude of the campaign and its reach didn’t surprise everyone, but many people, including several men, wrote they had trouble reading all of the stories.

Still, others felt the campaign was flawed, that it triggered painful feelings for victims and put the pressure on them to “do the work.”

As the hashtag flooded social media, others wondered: “Now what?” 

A resounding answer on Twitter: Start teaching consent, kindness and respect.

Follow the hashtag #MeToo on Twitter, on Facebook and on Instagram

Milano’s initial tweet followed the New York Times’ Oct. 5 investigation into decades of sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

In a statement last week, Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey also tweeted about the company’s efforts to tackle abuse after it faced criticism for suspending actress Rose McGowan’s account.

» RELATED: Many #WomenBoycottTwitter to support Rose McGowan, others criticize campaign for ‘silencing’ women