Understanding the #MeToo Movement in Youth: A Mixed-Methods Study

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Collaton, Joanna
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University of Guelph

Sexual violence is highly prevalent and associated with negative outcomes. Women are often the target of sexual violence which is tied to larger cultural attitudes including rape culture. Youth, the largest demographic of online users, use the anonymity of the Internet to discuss personal experiences of sexual violence. In October 2017, the Me Too movement saw thousands of individuals disclosing sexual violence stories. We searched for terms related to sexual violence on a mental health peer-support app, TalkLife, and compared the number of posts prior to and during the Me Too movement. Discussions of sexual violence increased over time. Results from a content analysis indicate that youth are using TalkLife to negatively discuss experiences of sexual violence and to vent about rape culture. Findings suggest the potential to develop and maintain negative self-appraisal. TalkLife may be used to support and educate youth on therapeutic skills, consent, and healthy relationships.

sexual violence, social media, help-seeking, rape culture, mental health, youth communication, content analysis, #MeToo, TalkLife