There has been so much talk about sexual harassment and sexual assault in the media over the past few months. What has stuck out to me is how the focus has been on the accused and invalidating the accusers and how droves of women have to accuse a man before there is even a sliver of validation to their experiences. This is a ridiculous narrative that has gone on for far too long and invalidates the vulnerability a survivor displays by sharing their story.
The “Me, Too” movement has shown just how normal it is for a woman to experience some form of harassment in her life and how male dominance has played an important role. Society has repeatedly perpetuated the false narrative that a woman’s value is tied to how a man views her. Women are told these messages from the time they are born and on into adulthood. These messages are heard and modeled often enough during a woman’s childhood years that they become so easily embedded in how a woman sees herself as she ages and matures.
These messages are why women have been silent. These messages are why women are not believed. These messages are why men have been nurtured to believe male dominance and privilege is okay.
While this movement has brought to light the centuries old issue of male privilege and its impact on women, “Me, Too” and how it is played out by the media, has also been triggering for many survivors. A CNN article explains, "There's normalization and validation in this movement, as it takes away the shame, secrecy and stigma that is so common in situations of abuse," said therapist Joyce Marter, founder of Urban Balance, a multi-site counseling center in Chicago. However, not all survivors feel empowered to be apart of the movement. They may choose to be silent or to share anonymously as sharing can open them up to judgment. Seeing other’s stories may remind survivors of their own experience. These memories can lead to an increase in trauma-related symptoms including nightmares, hypervigilance, flashbacks, mood changes, upset stomach, or headache.
I am here to tell you, you have rights.
You have a right to be believed.
You have a right to choose when and who to share your story with.
You have a right to take care of yourself.
You have a right to let go of guilt and shame.
You have a right to your body and life.
If you or some you know has experienced sexual assault or trauma and need support, RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) organization has a hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673)