A New Poll on Sexual Harassment Suggests Why ‘Me Too’ Went So Insanely Viral

October 17, 2017, 12:36 PM UTC

The “me too” hashtag exploded on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram this week after actress Alyssa Milano called for women to use it as a way to illustrate the scope of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Women—and some men—flooded social media with the hashtags, at times using it to recount instances in which they were abused.

A new ABC News-Washington Post poll out Tuesday shows why the campaign resonated with so many women: sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, is a full-blown epidemic.

It found that more than half of all American women—54%—have experienced “unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances” at some point in their lives. Thirty percent of women have endured such behavior from male colleagues and 25% identified men with sway over their careers as the culprits.

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The poll found that, all told, 33 million U.S. women have been sexually harassed—and 14 million sexually abused—in work-related episodes.

Yet nearly all women—95%—report that male perpetrators of such abuse usually go unpunished.

The poll did provide some promising results: 75% of American call workplace sexual harassment a problem, while 64% deem it a “serious” problem—that’s an increase of 11 and 17 percentage points, respectively, since the last similar poll in 2011. But despite wider awareness about sexual harassment in the workplace, it remains prevalent—to an alarming degree.

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