I KNOW a woman who was raped by a family member as a little girl.

He was never brought to justice before he died. It remains a guilty family secret.

I know another woman who was pinned down and raped by her boyfriend when she was just 17. Again, nothing came of it. She got on with her life, albeit under the shadow of shame and the trauma of the memory.

Every woman I know has a story of a man's inappropriate behaviour towards them, although admittedly many are not as horrific as the examples I have given.

We all have a tale to tell. But most of us keep quiet, because we are conditioned not to make a fuss. It's almost frowned upon to make an issue about these things. We just deal with it, and get on with it.

And so, in many ways, I welcome the fact that women – and men – are now speaking out about their experiences of rape, sexual abuse and harassment.

The #metoo hashtag on Twitter has been running for many years, encouraging females to voice the unseemly conduct they have to face at the hands of men.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which is now threatening to topple many more prominent men in the spotlight, the #metoo hashtag has gained huge momentum.

It is a relief that we are speaking out, that we are no longer silent, ashamed, and afraid to rock the boat.

If watching the fall of Weinstein and Spacey, and those to come, makes some men think twice before abusing positions of power to behave disgracefully towards women, or sometimes other men, and even children, then this can only be a good thing.

As a society women are not where we should be in terms of equality. Yes, we have made huge strides in terms of birth control and in the workplace, but this has still not gone far enough.

And the attitude that women 'should' be a certain way, should be the siren, or the yummy mummy, or the quiet, sweet 'fairer sex' is still endemic in our culture.

So let's call out those men who 'slut shame' us, who patronise us, who touch us inappropriately.

And if they have threatened us, raped us, abused us or intimidated us, then do not be afraid to report them. There is absolutely no shame in standing up for ourselves, no matter how people might try to crush our protestations.

Whenever you see a woman object, you see some men trying to shout her down, to criticise her, to minimise her experiences.

Some men are extremely dismissive of feminism. This is because it is a threat to their endemic sense of superiority. The men who are most comfortable with equality and with women standing up for their rights are the ones who are most secure in their own skin.

But #metoo carries risk. It carries the risk that we could dilute our own experiences. If a man put his hand on your shoulder innocently 25 years ago, or (and this happened to me not long ago – I could only laugh), an old man with dementia lifted your skirt up to have a look underneath, then unless you are seriously traumatised by it, then don't share it.

If every tiny incident becomes an issue, it gives the misogynists an excuse to write us off, to brand us as hysterical.