Over Half of Americans Would Now Speak Out if Victim of Sexual Misconduct, Poll Finds

Over half of Americans say the recent attention given to victims of sexual misconduct has made them more likely to speak out if they were a victim themselves, according to a new poll by the Associated Press.

About 54 percent of Americans said they would be more likely to speak out if they were a victim, and 58 percent say they are more willing to speak out if they witnessed sexual misconduct happening.

The poll also found that roughly 6 in 10 women and about 4 in 10 men said the attention to sexual misconduct has made them more likely to speak out if they are a victim. A majority of women (63 percent) and just over half of men (53 percent) said they feel more willing to report sexual misconduct if they witness it.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

MeToo March
A poll conducted by the Associated Press in September 2021 found that a majority of Americans say they are more likely to speak out if they are victims of sexual misconduct after more attention has been given to the issue. Above, activists participate in the #MeToo March on November 10, 2018, in Hollywood, California. Sarah Morris/Getty Images

Americans have watched a public reckoning unfold since 2017 as the #MeToo movement exposed the enduring prevalence of sexual assault and harassment in people's lives. A string of powerful men were taken down in its wake.

But has the movement changed their own lives in meaningful, measurable ways?

A new poll suggests that it has.

Among other findings in the survey of American adults, conducted from September 23 to 27:

  • The majority of Americans, 61 percent, say the recent attention to sexual misconduct in the U.S. has been good for women in general, up from 45 percent in January 2020. Now, just 19 percent say it has been negative; another 19 percent say there has not been much impact.
  • Nearly half—45 percent—say it's been good for the country, while 24 percent say it's had a detrimental effect. That's also a significant change since January 2020, when Americans were more closely divided over the impact: Thirty-three percent said positive, while 38 percent said negative.
  • Somewhat more people now feel the movement has been good for men as well: Twenty-five percent say so, compared with 19 percent in 2020.
  • Overall, respondents see fewer signs of positive change for women of color compared with women in general. Forty-one percent say the movement has had a good impact, though just 18 percent say it has been negative. However, women of color are more positive about the effect the movement has had on them personally. Four in 10 say the movement has been good for them. That's more than the 25 percent of white women who feel that way.
  • Black Americans are especially likely to say the impact on men of color has been negative. Nearly half—45 percent—feel that's the case, compared with 28 percent of Americans overall.
  • More Americans under 30 say they have talked with others about sexual misconduct (45 percent versus 31 percent) and changed how they interact with others (34 percent versus 24 percent) in the past year.
  • More Democrats than Republicans say they have discussed the issue in the past year, 41 percent versus 27 percent.
  • Just 35 percent of Americans now say sexual misconduct is an "extremely" or "very" serious problem in the workplace, down from 56 percent in 2017. Still, another 47 percent say it's a "somewhat" serious problem in workplaces today.
  • About 6 in 10 call sexual misconduct on social media an "extremely" or "very" serious problem.