A campaign that predated social media, set up in 2007 by Tarana Burke who up a non-profit organisation aiming to provide the resources and support for victims of sexual assault and harassment, and committed her time and energy to be with those who had experienced abuse. Now, in response to the allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, the social media movement #MeToo has resurfaced.
Retweeted earlier this month by actress, and producer, Alyssa Milano, the responses to movement highlights how common these problems are, and just how many have suffered (or are suffering…) as a result of sexual misconduct.
The response; devastating and heartbreaking.
12 million posts in the first 24 hours – CBS News
All stories, from minor assaults, to full on abusive disclosures, are harrowing. Hard to read, but equally harder to experience.
#MeToo gives women everywhere an opportunity to speak up and break the social taboos that prefer to sweep such suffering under the carpet, when really the response has highlighted the phenomenal rate in which these misconducts are being experienced.
#MeToo is integral for the future protection and safeguarding of young people in society. Since statistics show that around 1 in 10 young people will experienced sexual abuse or assault by their 18th Birthday, making child sexual abuse the most prevalent health care problem with devastating consequences to later physical, emotional and social development.
Feelings of blame.Isolation.Self-hate.Confusion.Problems with body-imageAnxiety
Such experiences of sexual assault an abuse lead to many developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and disordered eating, that can turn into chronic and distressing mental health disorders.
Whilst victims should not be made to relive their experiences, it has given many the freedom, and voice, to stand with thousands of other women, without shame or disgrace, and shout out that any form of sexually oppressive behaviour is not acceptable, and demands change.
Whilst I will not let myself relive this episode of my life, I want to take this opportunity to stand with those women who have bravely spoken out. Formally acknowledging the wrong that was done to me I hope will encourage others not to keep their grief and suffering hidden behind smiling eyes as I once did
I can empathise with the feelings of confusion and self-doubt many have posted about, as for years I buried a series of persisting sexual assaults that desecrated 5 years of my childhood, and later robbed me of my teen years.
38% of children never report sexual abuse or assault. Many never say anything.
So why didn’t I speak up?
I was certain the whole thing was my fault.
Confused about it all.
I felt I was the burden on the family, the one with all the issues who it’d be better of without, so I just won’t say a thing… and being such a young age I did not have the capacity, or vocabulary, to fully understand or portray, the situation; not even to myself.
All I knew was that I felt unclean.Tainted.Unworthy of love and affection.I hated my body.
So I remained silenced, petrified that should my family ever find out they would think I was disgusting, or that they wouldn’t believe me, and maybe they would disown me.
I silenced it from everyone, and even tried to bury it forever through silencing myself through years of disordered eating, body image issues, low-self esteem, and one failed suicide attempt.
Many years later I sat in a therapy session in a Psychiatric Hospital where I was being treated for anorexia nervosa. It was there I finally allowed myself to look back and connect with this experience.Head in hands and uncontrollable floods of tears followed.I was crying for the four year old inside of me; looking back on her and finally welcoming her as part of me instead of locking her out with blame. I wanted nothing more than to hold and comfort her brokenness.
Although investigations and trials were carried out the case was closed due to old legislation, and a crafty solicitor on the defendant’s side.
I never got the closure I deserved, nor the acknowledgement from an apology I so longed for.
But now I see just how weak he really is. Weak for not having the balls to when the time came to it taking responsibility for the suffering he caused, not only to myself but also my family.
It makes me strong.Strong for breaking out of that suppressed state where I felt powerless, and deciding that his past actions will not dictate my present happiness or health!
I have now overcome my eating disorder, in fact most the time I love being in my own skin. Most importantly I finally look at myself with worth, respect and sheer joy for being where I am today.Every day is a blessing, and I intend to make everything I do in life a blessing to follow this.
They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, it is #MyHope that the #MeToo enables girls and women everywhere no longer live in fear, confusion, or with the notion that this behaviour is acceptable, neither are they deserving of it.
#MyHope is that they can be proud that they are survivors, and feel supported and united – whether they choose to publicly say anything, or privately follow the campaign with newfound hope in their hearts.
We all have a responsibility to take a stand, and raise awareness about these issues. To realise that we can’t allow people to grow up believing that sexual misconduct, harassment, assaults and abuse, are to be expected norms of treatment in any relationship.
I would also like to commend the men who have responded to such posts with #IHave and #HowIWillChange, as this is an equally brave movement, for sometimes the power of remorse, acknowledgement and a desire to change, is all that’s needed to amend the mess.