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Thousands share stories of sexual abuse with #MeToo after Weinstein allegations

Thousands of people revealed the magnitude of sexual assault and harassment they have endured under the social media hashtag #MeToo within the last 24 hours.

Women shared stories of how they’ve been the targets of such abuse after actor Alyssa Milano posted a message of solidarity on Sunday, urging victims to reply “me too” to her original tweet. “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘Me too.’ as a reply to this tweet,” Milano posted in a screenshot message on Twitter.

In the hours since, women and men replied with the two-word message, while many others offered detailed accounts of misconduct they’ve witnessed. As of mid-day Monday, there have been more than 40,000 responses to Milano’s original tweet. The stories have been posted to Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr as well.

Milano credited a friend with the idea and, tweeted that the outpouring could help illustrate the problem’s scale.

Others posted general reminders to victims that they also didn’t need to share their stories online either for those experiences “to be real,” one person tweeted.

“If you don’t join in with #MeToo, that’s OK. If you’re not ready to share, that’s OK. We shouldn’t need to tell our stories to earn rights,” another tweeted.

The trending messages came after mounting sexual assault and harassment allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein. Earlier this month, back-to-back reports from The New York Times and The New Yorker of several actors and workers within Weinstein’s company who said the Hollywood mogul made unwanted advances. A few said he raped them.

Weinstein has “unequivocally” denied the allegations, a spokesperson told Variety. Since the twin reports, Weinstein has been ousted by his company and dismissed by the Academy. More women have also come forward, adding to the on-the-record allegations made against Weinstein.

WATCH: Widespread allegations suggest Weinstein was long protected by ‘culture of complicity’

In an essay published to PatriotNotPartisan.com, for Milano said it was “complicated” for her to publicly comment on the Weinstein allegations because she was friends with his ex-wife Georgina Chapman and her two children.

“Please don’t confuse my silence for anything other than respect for a dear friend and her beautiful children,” Milano wrote.

She also said she was “sickened and angered over the disturbing accusations of Weinstein’s sexual predation and abuse of power.”

“To the women who have come forward against a system that is designed to keep you silent, I stand in awe of you and appreciate you and your fortitude,” she wrote. “It is not easy to disclose such experiences, especially in the public eye. Your strength will inspire others.”

READ MORE: This poem shows what sexual abuse looks like

Since Sunday, “MeToo” messages proliferated on Twitter, the same platform that temporarily froze the account of actor Rose McGowan, Milano’s one-time co-star in the TV show “Charmed,” last week.

After being critical of Weinstein, Twitter shut down McGowan’s account. Twitter defended its decision to locked the actor’s account by pointing out its policies, saying McGowan had tweeted a private phone number. When the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter started trending in response, Twitter reopened McGowan’s account.

The Times reported that McGowan reached a $100,000 settlement with Weinstein after a 1997 incident.

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