MeToo movement breaking down barriers around sexual harassment

If you've been on Twitter or Facebook in the past day or two you may have noticed the words "Me Too" dominating timelines and newsfeeds.

That's because hundreds of thousands of women and some men have taken to social media to share their stories of sexual harassment and assault, in response to the scandal that's rocking Hollywood.

Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano initiated the viral social media campaign in response to the ever-increasing claims of sexual abuse by disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

She posted a tweet urging all women who've been sexually harassed or assaulted to respond with two simple words. 

Me Too.

Among the thousands who replied were Kiwi stars Anna Paquin, Melanie Lynsky and Rose McIver. 

"When these hundreds of thousands of incredibly courageous women and some men, people of all genders are sharing their experience of sexual violence it has an impact because it raises awareness," said Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism project.

The Me Too hash tag has been trending in countries worldwide including the UK, the US, India and here in New Zealand.

The Human Rights Commission says it's an incredibly powerful way to shed light on the issue.

"It's telling women and men for that matter that sexual harassment is not acceptable and that you need to come forward," Human Rights Commissioner Jackie Blue says.

The Human Rights Commission received around 60 complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace every year, but says the number could easily by 10 times that.

Either victims don't recognise the behaviour as sexual harassment or they're too scared to speak out - until now.