Within the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of talk and stories coming to fruition from the #metoo hash tag. As a therapist, the results from this have been both astounding, heartbreaking, hopeful and enraging. However, one thing is clear: sexual abuse, assault and harassment still very much need to be talked about.
As I was driving and listening to radio, a segment came up on the me too hash tag- the people talking on the radio were mocking the hash tag, stating how frivolous it was and how was a hash tag supposed to “stop men from sexually harassing and assaulting women?” This made me really evaluate the meaning of it- this #metoo movement is not for the perpetrators or bystanders- it is for the survivors, the victims and anyone out there who has experiences being sexually harassed. #Metoo is about coming together and letting other women and men know that we no longer need to live in the shame and silence of another person’s harmful actions. Abuse no longer has to fester in silence, rather we can use our voice to take something that took away our power and turn it into an empowering process- a process that can give us our voice back.
So what good exactly can come of all these people relaying multiple stories of trauma and workplace harassment? Abuse is often met with the notion that the victim is somehow at fault. It is common the victim will blame themselves for not doing something different as a means of asserting a false sense of control over the situation: if I was at fault, then I could have done something different to have changed the outcome. This is a false belief system that is allowed to grow and be reinforced with silence and the culture that normalizes sexual harassment and abuse. Through making workplace harassment, sexual abuse and assault a non-shameful and more prevalent topic, it allows the victims to know they are not alone. It allows these women and men to know there is nothing inherently wrong with them- this can happen to anyone.
We can use our voices to come together and empower each other. No one should have to go through an assault alone or feel it was his or her fault. We need to continue to press the conversation and discontinue the discourse that reporting sexual harassment is “being dramatic” or trying to downplay the events “It’s not like I was raped.” If it feels wrong or uncomfortable, there’s a reason for that feeling.
The more this abusive behavior is tolerated, the more it will continue to be permissible.
If you are a survivor of assault, abuse or harassment reading this, I want you to know that it was not your fault- there is nothing flawed or inherently wrong with you. Your story is not shameful- it’s a story of your own resiliency and power. It is YOUR story to claim.
Alexis has been a part time contributor to the online website Patientworthy which is dedicated to education and awareness of rare and serious diseases. Links to articles written by Alexis: