As news media increasingly permeates the everyday channels of day-to-day American life, exposés and lengthy reports have the heightened power to shape culture and define a calendar year.
In 2017, headlines surrounding varied cultures of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct saturated American media and defined a news narrative that continues to build. From Hollywood to Capitol Hill, power structures that breed silence and fuel sexual misconduct were the most-discussed stories of the year.
RELATED: High-profile men accused of sexual assault, harassment, misconduct
High-profile men accused of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct
High-profile men accused of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct
Movie producer Harvey Weinstein is accused of sexually assaulting or harassing dozens of women, including a number of well-known celebrities, over the past several decades.
Matt Lauer was fired from 'Today' after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct that allegedly included giving a co-worker a sex toy and dropping his pants in front of a female employee in his office.
Actor Jeffrey Tambor has been accused of sexual assault by two women from the Amazon series, "Transparent."
Eleven women have come forward accusing President Donald Trump of unwanted touching or kissing. Trump has called the sexual harassment claims 'fake news.'
(Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Sen. Al Franken is accused of kissing and groping a woman without her consent during a United Service Organizations (USO) tour in 2006.
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Director Woody Allen has been accused of sexual assault by his daughter, Dylan Farrow. She says she experienced inappropriate behavior by her adoptive father on several occasions.
Hundreds of women accused longtime Hollywood writer and director James Toback of sexual harassment.
(TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
Comedian Louis C.K. has been accused of forcing women to watch him masturbate, according to the New York Times.
(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
Director Bret Ratner has been accused of sexual harassment by several women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Actor Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of making a sexual advance towards him when he was 14 years old.
Roger Ailes, the former president of Fox News Channel, was accused of sexually harassing former anchor Gretchen Carlson and several other women from the network.
(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Several women accused TV host Charlie Rose of sexual misconduct, including groping and lewd phone calls.
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Bill Cosby has faced sexual assault allegations from about 60 women, including several women who claim he drugged them.
(Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
Four women, including several that were also fellow Scientologists, have accused actor Danny Masterson of sexual assault, according to HuffPost.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
Mark Schwahn, the former "One Tree Hill" showrunner, was accused of sexual harassment by a large number of the show's cast and crew.
(Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
Roy Moore faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with underaged girls.
Bill Clinton faced numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct while he was president of the United States, with accusers including Juanita Broaddrick, who accused him of rape, Kathleen Willey who said he groped her and Paula Jones who said he exposed himself to her without consent.
(Photo by Dirck Halstead/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Actor Casey Affleck settled lawsuits out of court wth two women who accused him of sexual harassment.
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Film Independent)
Bill O'Reilly has reportedly made numerous settlements with women who accused him of sexual harassment.
(Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic congressman was sentenced to 21 months in prison in September 2017 after pleading guilty to sexting a teenage girl.
(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Veteran journalist Mark Halperin has been accused of sexually harassing women while he worked at ABC News.
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Singer R. Kelly is accused of holding women against their will in houses in Illinois and Georgia in a reported 'sex cult.'
(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
Former Fox Host Eric Bolling was accused of sending unsolicited lewd text messages to female colleagues.
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Director Roman Polanski fled the US after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Several other women have also come forward to accuse him of sexual assault.
Chef John Besh stepped down from the company he founded after female employees reported facing sexual harassment there.
(Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images for NYCWFF)
Photographer Terry Richardson was labeled the 'Harvey Weinstein of Fashion' by the Sunday Times amid widespread accusations of sexual harassment by models.
(Photo by Eugene Gologursky/WireImage)
Singer Kesha accused Lukasz Gottwald aka Dr. Luke of drugging and sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions.
(Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
Former champion boxer Mike Tyson was convicted of raping a Miss Black America contestant in 1992.
Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by dozens of his former patients and athletes.
(JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Music mogul L.A. Reid left his position as Epic Records CEO/Chairman in 2017 amid harassment claims by a female assistant.
(Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
Amazon Studios chief Roy Price resigned following reports that he harassed a producer and ignored an actress' allegation of sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein.
(Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
Several women have accused former President George H.W. Bush of groping them during photo ops.
Chris Savino (right), creator of 'The Loud House' was suspended by Nickelodeon after being accused of making unwanted advances toward multiple women.
(Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SCAD)
Actor Steven Seagal was accused of sexual misconduct by Inside Edition's chief investigative correspondent Lisa Guerrero.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images,)
Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of news and editorial director of National Public Radio, was accused of inappropriate conduct with two women in 1990s.
Dustin Hoffman was accused of sexually harassing a production assistant when he was 48 and she was a high school senior.
Jeremy Piven was accused by actress Ariane Bellamar of groping her on two separate occasions. Piven 'unequivocally' denied the allegations.
Ben Affleck apologized for acting 'inappropriately' towards Hilarie Burton during an appearance on MTV's "Total Request Live" in 2003.
Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct by a woman he went on a date with.
Andy Dick was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct on set, including groping people’s genitals, unwanted kissing/licking and sexual propositions.
(Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
Rep. Ruben Kihuen, (D) Nevada, was accused of making repeated, unwanted propositions for dates and sex to a woman that once worked on his campaign.
(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Actor Ed Westwick was accused by actress Kristina Cohen of raping her in his home.
David Guillod, producer of 'Atomic Blonde,' is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting several woman.
(Photo by Jennifer Lourie/Getty Images)
Andrew Kreisberg, the showrunner for "Supergirl," was suspended in November 2017 amid numerous sexual harassment allegations by members of his staff.
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Actor Tom Sizemore was reportedly told to leave a film set in 2003 after an 11-year-old actress told her mother that he had touched her genitals.
Steve Jurvetson left his own venture capital firm after allegations of sexual harassment
(Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
A former model accused George Takei of sexually assaulting him 36 years ago.
(Photo by Tara Ziemba/FilmMagic)
Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo accused former FIFA president Sepp Blatter of sexually assaulted her at an award ceremony in 2013.
A former writer for 'Mad Men' said the show's creator Matthew Weiner told her that she owed it to him to let him see her naked.
Ron Jeremy has been accused of sexually assaulting more than a dozen women and the allegations span more than 30 years.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
Multiple women accused producer Adam Fields of touching them inappropriately and sexually propositioning them.
(Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has been accused of unwanted sexual advances by former staffers.
(Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
John Lasseter, the head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, was accused of crossing the line with employees, including unwanted hugs.
(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Singer Nick Carter was accused of rape by a former member of the all-girl teen band Dream, Melissa Schuman.
(Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)
A singer accused billionaire Richard Branson of sexual assault during an event as his Necker Island in the Caribbean. Branson says he has no recollection of the matter.
Talent agent Adam Venit is accused of grabbing actor Terry Crews' genitals.
(Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
Jeordie White (aka Twiggy Ramirez), Marilyn Manson former longtime bassist, was accused of rape by singer Jessicka Addams.
(Photo by Chris Weeks/WireImage for Bragman Nyman Cafarelli)
Lockhart Steele, Vox Media's editorial director was fired after a former employee accused him of sexual harassment.
(Photo by Hal Horowitz/WireImage for Haute Magazine)
Producer Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein's brother, has also been accused of sexual harassment.
(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
Jesse Lacey of the band, Brand New, was accused of sexual misconduct, including soliciting nude photos from a teen girl in the past.
(Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Redferns)
Senior Correspondent for E! News Ken Baker California was accused of sexual harassment by two women.
(Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
American film director Oliver Stone was accused of groping model and actress Carrie Stevens in the 1990s.
(Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
Reporter Glenn Thrush was suspended by the New York Times after several women accused him of acting inappropriately when they were young journalists.
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Veteran radio host Garrison Keillor was fired by Minnesota Public Radio following claim of improper behavior.
(Photo by Al Pereira/WireImage)
CNN producer Teddy Davis was fired after multiple accusations of harassment.
(Photo via Twitter)
Producer Russell Simmons stepped down from his companies following sexual assault and harassment accusations from two women.
Longtime conductor James Levine was suspended by New York's Metropolitan Opera after sexual abuse claims.
(Photo by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images)
Dylan Howard, editor in chief of the National Enquirer, was accused of sexual misconduct by several former employees, including forcing them to watch porn and openly discussing his sexual partners.
"X-Men" director Bryan Singer was accused of raping a 17-year-old boy on a yacht in a lawsuit filed in December.
Harold Ford, Jr.
(Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Chef Mario Batali has been accused by multiple women of "inappropriate touching in a pattern of behavior that spans at least two decades."
(Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)
PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley's show was suspended amid misconduct allegations made against him.
Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb was fired from his job as an ESPN contributor amid accusations of sexual harassment by a wardrobe stylist at the network.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Sen. Jeff Klein (D-New York), was accused of forcibly kissing a former female staffer back in 2015.
(Photo by Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)
Ross Levinsohn, Los Angeles Times CEO and publisher, has reportedly been a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits and would rate the "hotness" of his female colleagues, according to a report by NPR.
(Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A woman accused magician David Copperfield of drugging, sexually assaulting her when she was teen model in the 80s, according to The Wrap.
James Franco was accused by several women of sexually inappropriate behavior. He was also criticized for wearing a "Time's Up" pin to the Golden Globes hours before the accusations against him surfaced.
(Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
Barry Lubin, also known as Grandma the clown, resigned from Big Apple Circus after admitting to pressuring a 16-year-old girl into posing for pornographic photos in 2004.
(Photo by David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Arizona Wildcats head football coach Rich Rodriguez was fired amid troubling off-field allegations. His former administrative assistant says Rodriguez inappropriately grabbed and touched her.
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
President Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was accused of sexual assault by pro-Trump singer Joy Villa. She claims he hit her on the buttocks during an event at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
(Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Steve Wynn, Chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of peple. The Wall Street Journal the casino mogul regularly pressured employees to perform sex acts.
Music exec and 'The Four' judge Charlie Walk was accused of sexual harassment by a former employee. Life Lab founder Tristan Coopersmith penned an open letter about Walk in January claiming he sent her lewd comment and cornered her in the bedroom he shared with his wife.
(Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for Vh1 Save The Music)
Several women filed sexual harassment complaints against Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle, according to the Washington Post.
(Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Actor Scott Baio, was accused of molesting is former 'Charles in Charge' co-star Nicole Eggert when she was a minor.
Paris Dennard, GOP commentator
(Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Before we detail 2017, though, this topic really requires a look at the chain of events that in many ways paved the path for victims -- or, as TIME Magazine named them, "the Silence Breakers," -- to speak out on abuse.
The 2016 presidential campaign season brought a series of dramatic turns in lead up to the general election contest between Donald Trump and Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Almost exactly one month before Election Day, the Washington Post published footage from 2005 of then-businessman Trump speaking in lewd terms about how he treats women.
"Grab them by the p---y," Trump said, a phrase that now infamously defines those last few weeks of the 2016 election. "You can do anything."
Some 21 women have publically accused Trump of sexual misconduct ranging from forced intercourse to inappropriate encounters, both before and after the 45th president's inauguration. Following Trump's election win, women around the world took to the streets in protest -- many vocalizing their opposition to the former billionaire businessman's attitude toward and treatment of women.
And as these allegations against Trump set the stage, so came the wave of allegations in 2017.
On Oct. 10, 2017, the New Yorker released Ronan Farrow's detailed report on Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and his dark history of sexual assault. The report featured multiple accusers, and these initial accounts opened up the floodgates for some 80 plus women across the film industry to come forward and share their own stories. Selma Hayek, Rose McGowan and Cara Delevingne are among those that have notably gone public with their first-hand accounts.
While headlines on Weinstein's systemic abuses of women with whom he worked occupied much of the space surrounding sexual misconduct, other accounts of high-profile men in the entertainment industry using their power to manipulate and harass both women and men quickly followed. Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer are among those who came under scrutiny and have since faced repercussions in their respective careers.
Sexual assault allegations also spread through Capitol Hill and local legislatures alike. In Massachusetts, Kentucky and Kansas, accusations of misconduct have brought down political figures and candidates. On a national scale, Sen. Al Franken and Rep. John Cornyn have resigned while others -- like Rep. Ruben Kihuen -- have announced they will not seek re-election.
And then, amid a special Senate election in Alabama, there was the case of Roy Moore.
On Nov. 9, the Washington Post published a report including detailed accounts from an initial four women who claimed the high-profile Alabam judge pursued them when they were teens.
"I have prayed over this," Leigh Corfman told the Post. "All I know is that I can’t sit back and let this continue, let him continue without the mask being removed."
More accusers came forward in the wake of the bombshell report -- sending waves through Washington D.C. as Trump and the Republican party balanced their desire to maintain the congressional seat as GOP-held with the seriousness posed by the allegations. Despite White House support, Moore was defeated by Doug Jones due in large part to the 98 percent of black female voters who opted for the Democratic candidate over the disgraced judge.
All of this led to the proliferation of the #MeToo hashtag on social media. A way for victims to share their own stories and unify in solidarity, the phrase was first used in the context of sexual violence by Tarana Burke in 2006 -- and has since taken on renewed life.
"We keep talking about how many millions engaged with the movement, but even if just 10 percent of those people stay committed to the work, we will have created an incredible army," Burke says in a piece for Glamour. "Because, the power of #MeToo isn't just naming it. Naming it is just the beginning of the journey."
RELATED: Women come forward with #MeToo
Women come forward with 'Me Too'
Women come forward with 'Me Too'
Samantha Hanahentzen, 17, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson??Hanahentzen said: "When I saw the #MeToo hashtag I was just coming to terms with my sexual assault. It happened when I was in middle school by one of my teachers. It took me a while to come forward with what had happened to me and then when I went to the administration I was told I didn't have enough evidence to prove anything and I should just keep quiet about it because I and the school could be sued for slander if I went public with my experience. It was really silencing because when I was being assaulted it was that stereotypical line of "let's keep this between me and you." And then when I found the courage to come out with out I was told again "let's keep this quiet." So for me too, it was a way to have a voice and it was a way for me to see that I'm not the only one that has gone through this and that women all around the world have all experienced the same thing. It was really unifying." TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY?
Jill Marklin, 40, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Marklin said: "I am a part of the #MeToo movement like every other woman that I know, whether they recognize it or not. I starting recognizing years ago that this is something I experience on an everyday basis, sometimes in very unconscious ways and there have been times in my life when it has been very conscious. I'm now able to talk about experiences that I didn't realize were happening at the time and I want to be vocal about it because I feel that when you bring those dark things out into the light they don't have any power anymore and that it will allow other people to bring that out too and to begin healing and to begin fighting back against those experiences. I was really lucky, if you want to call it lucky, that I never experienced rape, never experienced anything that violent. But it's everyday fear, walking in the streets, being called at, not wanting to be called at. I've had different guys, just being out, trying to force me to dance with them, to touch them. I've had men call me a bitch or I had one man stomp on my foot in LA when I said I didn't want to be around him, those are violent. Things that men never really have to think about but we, as women, are taught. When I was very young, my mom started telling me: "Be alert wherever you are. Make sure you carry your keys between your fingers?" As women, it's second nature now but it shouldn't have to be.\
Laura Chapman, 40, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Chapman said: "I have been assaulted by men from a very young age and my #MeToo story is almost my entire life up until about 30 and then I started aging out of it. I feel like if we all talk about it, that's how we can end it. The voice gives us power.\
Jenna Kreider, 24, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Kreider said: "I was sexually assaulted twice in college; once by a boyfriend, once by a friend and it wasn't something that I really talked about. I will talk about it if it's something people ask about but I'm generally not open with it. This #MeToo campaign really helped me to vocalize that with other people who I know have also gone through the same experience which is really great.\
Nancy Stalnaker, 35, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Stalnaker said: "I think it is fantastic that women are deciding that the people who deserve the shame are not the victims of sexual assault but the perpetrators of sexual assault. The #MeToo campaign has really helped people to feel that they are not alone.\
Brenda Siegel, 40, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Siegel said: "I've had several #MeToo experiences in my life but one was particularly difficult and aggressive in my relationship with my son's father. I never really spoke out about it until two weeks ago and I'm really grateful to have the opportunity to not be holding that inside my body anymore.\
Kadi McDonald, 30, wears a Rose McGowan "Rose's Army" scarf as she poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson McDonald said: "I have been blessed with the courage to talk about my experiences and be able to talk about them and this campaign was really awesome to help others do that. The recognition from family and friends that it's happening to people that they love; it's happening to everyone. I'm the most basic person you'll ever meet and so to have something so atrocious occur is very surprising for people.\
Siyobin Blanco, 23, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Blanco said: "I was sexually abused as a child and all the way growing up and it took me a really long time to recognize that so when I saw this campaign I thought that it was really important that other people know that that's something that exists, with children as well, so people can learn to recognize the signs and recognize it at a young age.\
Heather Latzko, 22, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Latzko said: "I want to remind everyone that rape is not the only form of sexual assault and just because you're dating them or you're married to them does not mean that it is not sexual assault.\
Pam Akerstrom, 63, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Akerstrom said: "I spent 20 years not telling anyone about it and I'm glad that there's an opportunity for people to speak today.\
Ashleigh Strange, 29, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Strange said: "When I first saw the hashtags I didn't think that it applied to me because I realize now that it's easy to ignore when it's happening to others and it's almost easier to ignore when it's happening to you because it's just something that you don't think that you're big enough, you don't think you're strong enough. It's weird to say that having a hashtag behind you gives you strength but it does; it's weird but it does.\
Jennifer Childs, 39, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Childs said: "When I was 30, I was sexually harassed by a boss. He was feeling me up in the car without my consent and it was one of those moments where I chose to speak up and it was really hard. I remember going to my female boss at the company and telling her about it and the only thing that they managed to do is that they took me off his team and then she proceeded to tell me that I was stupid for putting myself in that situation. Three years later he harassed somebody else and because there was a file they fired him.\
April Slusser, 24, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Slusser said: "My #MeToo experience prompted me to get involved in local organizations to help disenfranchised women who have been sexually assaulted or victims of human trafficking or domestic violence.\
Maya Helferty, 25, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Helferty said: "I've always been aware that most women, if not all, and tons of other people experience sexual harassment and assault. I've always been really open that I've had those experiences throughout my life. But I didn't realize how many other people didn't realize and were not aware that there was such a large community of us.\
Theresa Joy, 39, poses for a #MeToo portrait in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2017. Picture taken October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson? ?Joy said: "Women have been taught that sexual harassment or anything sexual or abusive towards them is just a part of being a woman, it's just something that we live with, that we accept that we have to push through or push down and go on with as a part of life. The #MeToo movement is just another part of the women's movement that we're finally coming together and saying let's lift each other up instead of pushing each other down? I think it's changing the entire future for women that the younger generation are seeing this and saying "Wait. That guy shouldn't be talking to me like that. I'm not going to let that happen to me in the club. He shouldn't be touching me in this way?". My daughter is 19 and I'm proud of what's happening with the #MeToo movement because I feel that it's going to make her safer and stronger. Just to have that on a huge scale right now, that it's not okay to be harassed and raped and abused."?