Yesterday my Facebook feed blew up with friends posting “Me too” to bring awareness to sexual harassment and sexual assault. Some shared a personal experience or several where they had been groped, touched, cat-called, or any other violation of their personal safety. Some simply stated that they, too, had been victimized.
I added my voice to theirs.
Not because I’m a victim or because they are. Not because we’re trying to gain attention. Not because we’re living with victim mentality. Not because men are all evil. This isn’t about whining, complaining, or man-hating (or woman-hating, because it can and does happen to and by both genders).
It’s about standing up for ourselves and giving a voice to the voiceless–helping others who have been violated know they’re not alone. Speaking out helps others extinguish their silence.
It’s about standing up and saying it’s Not OK to be sexually violated–physically or verbally.
It’s about taking our control and power back. There’s power in “Me too.”
When you’re sexually abused, harassed, or assaulted, you feel powerless. You feel shame, fear, disgust, anger, sorrow, and feel unsafe. Speaking out takes back the power and allows you to start healing.
I’ve seen women and men come forward. Some minimize their experience because it “wasn’t as bad as…” No. Listen now: It doesn’t matter if it happened once or multiple times. It doesn’t matter if it was words or touching over the clothes or under the clothes. It doesn’t matter if you were 3 or 73, abuse is abuse. Harassment is harassment. Just because someone may have had a “more severe” experience than you, doesn’t diminish what happened to you. It’s still traumatic. It still requires healing.
As you see this on your Twitter of Facebook feeds, just because someone hasn’t said “Me too” doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened to them. They may not yet be ready to come forward. “Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. Meanwhile, only 6 out of every 1000 perpetrators will end up in prison.” – www.rainn.org/statistics
It happens to both genders, all races, all religions, all socioeconomic statuses…everyone.
If someone makes you uncomfortable, speak loud and clear against what they’re doing or saying. It’s Not OK. Report it to the police. This won’t stop happening if we don’t fight back.
I’ve not thought much about some of my experiences because others I’ve had overshadowed them. There’s too many to remember, but here are some (***TRIGGER WARNING***):
- raped and abused by my uncle – age 3
- laid on top of in a sexual way by a neighbor boy – kindergarten, 1st grade
- inappropriate contact with cousins – various ages
- butt pinched by classmate – 3rd grade
- Molested, groped, and various sexually inappropriate words said to me by brother – several ages that I can’t remember, but for sure age 10-11
- boy slowly moving his hand all the way up my leg during class – 8th grade
- boy saying really inappropriately dirty things to me on the phone – 8th grade
- Dad telling me he had inappropriate feelings for me – age ?
- Grandpa telling me, with his hand on my knee, that I could be his girlfriend if I wasn’t his granddaughter – 8th grade
It’s not a complete list and I’m sure there’s things I haven’t even yet considered that have happened. I wish I had known what to do in these situations. I wish I didn’t think most of them were “normal.”
What I do now is talk to my children about situations that may arise and help them come up with a plan of what to do when something happens. I talk to my girls, and I talk to my boys. I want to keep them all safe and teach them to not victimize others–inadvertently or on purpose.
So, to you who have silently or publicly added “me too,” you’re not alone. Take your power back. We were once victims, but now we’re fighters–fighting to make things change and stick up for each other and help others realize how bad this truly is.
Me too. It’s not OK.