Sexual violence has been a global health concern for over decades, but activism on social media such as #MeToo has increased public discourse and awareness about this issue. In its early advent, the #MeToo movement raised ample awareness, stimulated free discourse, and placed this issue as an important concern to address. While countries have implemented austere laws to prevent such hate crimes against women, societal norms and codes have deemed this type of violence as stigma or taboo resulting in the underreporting of the majority of sexual violence-related crimes. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey conducted in 2015 reported that one in five women experience attempted or completed rape during her lifetime. In other words, 43.6% of women in the United States experience some form of sexual misconduct during their life including more than a third of women who reported unwanted sexual contact or, groping for example, in their lifetime (Smith, S.G., Zhang, X., Basile, K.C., Merrick, M.T., Wang, J., Kresnow, M., & Chen, J., 2018).). This study examines individuals’ willingness to talk about sexual violence on social media. Using the spiral of silence theoretical framework, a survey was distributed online to understand who is willing to talk about social violence and under what conditions. Analysis of (n=108) responses found that gender and experience with sexual violence were key predictors of individuals' willingness to share their experiences or opinions on social media. More than half of the respondents (n=63) or 58% reported having experienced some form of sexual violence, but only a small number (n=9) or 14% had shared their personal experiences on social media. Participants identifying as cisgender females (n=32) or 41.6% reported their willingness to share their opinions on social media. Willingness to share opinions on social media about sexual violence was positively associated with the perception of public perception. Male participants (n=9) or 38% who perceived their opinion to be shared by their followers were more likely to express their views about sexual violence. The results indicate that women are more likely to be vocal about the issue of sexual violence and less likely to experience the spiral of silence effect.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Rape victims--United States--Attitudes; Sexual abuse victims--United States--Attitudes; Social media--United States--Public opinion

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Communication and Media Technologies (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Communication (CLA)


Ammina Kothari

Advisor/Committee Member

Erika Doering

Advisor/Committee Member

Eun Suk Kwon


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes