It all Started with a Tweet...
...a call to solidarity and a demonstration of the monstrosity that the problem is. Within 24 hours, tens of thousands of women had replied. Tens of thousands of women had posted #metoo, that they had personally experienced sexual assault or harrassment. Now that number is multiplying exponentially across social media platforms. I am sure your feeds are all filled with Me Too. To those who were still thinking that harassment and assault were the exception and not a grossly normal part of womanhood, I am sure this has been a wake up call, but for most of us, it is not. We knew it. We have heard the stories of our friends, loved ones, family. We have lived our own stories. We have been wounded, broken and healed, or are still healing.
Four problems with #metoo:
1. The Survivors of assault and harassment shouldn't be the ones always taxed with advocating, educating, and enlightening.
There is a Washington Post article that asks a great question: "Is it asking too much of Survivors?" It is a vulnerable thing to tell the world that you have been victimized in this way. It was violating when it happened and you don't necessarily want to proclaim it to everyone with the searchable #metoo. I thought this article was great food for thought, check it out.
2. Just because a woman doesn't post Me Too, doesn't mean she hasn't been assaulted or harassed.
This was aptly put in this tweet:
No woman is required to share these details of her life with anyone. If you don't want to share, don't. You don't owe anyone your story. If it empowers you to share, share. If it empowers you to hold your story more quietly and personally, do so.
3. The Definitions of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault are so varied that many women are left wondering "Me Too?"
So, I am going to clarify:
Sexual Harassment: Unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks. This can be in any setting, the workplace or a club, your street, school, or a restaurant.
Sexual Assault: Any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. This includes touching genetalia, breasts, buttocks or other intimate body parts, exposing these parts to another, and penetration crimes when a body is penetrated by another or by an object.
Many people just think of what they would think of as the worst-case scenarios when thinking of these two categories: rape or pressure from a boss to have sex. But read those definitions again. It is really hard for me to believe that any adult woman can make it to even mid 20s without experiencing one of both of those at least once. Without much effort at all I can come up with numerous examples of these "lesser" versions in my life. And to be clear, to the person who they have happened to, they weren't necessarily any "lesser".
4. There are many women for whom wounds have not healed, and this bombardment on their social media may be triggering.
I am not saying, we can't or shouldn't speak boldly on this issue. I am merely thinking of what it would be like to be a woman who was just raped this weekend. If I were to jump on Facebook to try to escape the chaos in my mind, heart and body and be swarmed with Me Too. Maybe it would be encouraging. But Maybe Not. According to the Department of Justice, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. Let that one sink in.
If you are struggling as you are being faced with this social media campaign, know you are not alone. If you don't want to post Me Too, you are not alone. If your Me Too is too fresh, too painful, too raw, too vulnerable, you are not alone. If you are not OK right now, you are not alone. If you are still in need of healing, you are not alone.
If your "Me Too" is Silent
If you are hurting, angry, sad, scared, vulnerable, aching, terrified, trembling or anything else, there is hope and healing. Many of the #MeToo people out there would tell you, there is hope and healing. You don't always have to feel this way.
As a therapist, of course I recommend getting professional help. Not because your friends and family are not good enough. In many ways they are even more important. Therapy isn't a substitute for a support network. But there are evidence-based therapies that can help you truly process and heal from your pain. One that I highly recommend is EMDR. EMDR can truly help you find hope and healing as you reprocess your experience and are released from some of the pain.
Lastly, if nothing else, know that the whole world is not able to ignore the pervasiveness of this problem right now. Many of your allies have posted #Metoo. Many of them would support you in your story.
All you brave souls, pushing forward in this messed up, broken world: hold your head high, whether you proclaim Me Too or not. For you are not alone.
And in case you are wondering....#Metoo.