Why I'm Not Sharing My #MeToo Story
The sacrificial beast.
This is the term Lauren Holly gave to a rich, powerful, famous and well-known man who has created a media firestorm surrounding allegations of sexual assault. It has been alleged that he preyed on a multitude of women over more than two decades. Seemingly, he has since been fired and gone into hiding.
Many of this multitude of women has gone public over the past few weeks regarding their experiences with this man. The media reports create this sense that now — finally — brave women are coming clean about sexual assaults and the men who love them are standing up for them too. It’s a movement. It’s powerful. These stories are causing this man to be the sacrificial beast with the hopes that women will not longer stay silent.
But I promise you, women will continue to stay silent.
Another news story will be released and the firestorm surrounding this situation will die down. You will see fewer and fewer #MeToo’s written across your social media by the women who want to share their experiences. These women are bringing these traumas into the limelight. They are giving faces to an act many feel so much shame over. They are demonstrating it is not the victim’s fault. They are so powerful. They are strong. They are open. They should be proud of what they are doing. They should continue to do, if they feel comfortable doing it. It’s OK.
But I won’t share my story on social media. In fact, following this trauma in my life as a teenager, my brain shut down all memories of this experience and it wasn’t until recently that I was able to open up to my therapist about it. I won’t tell my story to local reporters. I won’t talk to my friends and family about it. I’m going to process it with my therapist. And that’s OK too.
I’m incredibly open about my experiences with mental illness. I post on my social media frequently, I fundraise and I am openly taking medication and am undergoing therapy. But for whatever reason, I can’t do the same about my assault. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to share his name or his information. I don’t want to give his details. Nor do I want to give my own details.
I don’t think it’s because I feel shame about what happened to me so many years ago. I don’t feel embarrassed. I do still feel confused and angry and haunted. Since exploring the assault in therapy, I realize my brain and my body have automatic reactions I know stem from my experience. I think the reason I don’t want to share my story is because I shouldn’t have to.
Women should not have to publicly open about situations like mine in order for the police, the justice system, co-workers and family to understand why sexual assault is wrong. I shouldn’t need to publicly share my story to be believed. I especially shouldn’t need to publicly share my story to let men know they shouldn’t do this anymore.
I should be believed. I should be respected. The perpetrators who do this should face financial, legal and emotional consequences.
But the things that should happen and the things that do happen are two very different things.
The women who are choosing to speak up are making a difference and raising awareness. But just because I don’t speak up doesn’t mean these issues should be ignored.
Politicians, law makers, workplaces, soldiers, police, teachers and many others should all be paying attention to the problem. They should all be changing the laws and listening and campaigning for things to be better. They should be taking the power away from men the sacrificial beast.
But ultimately, the issue is gaining attention right now because it’s happened to celebrities. Powerful and abusive men are able to hear the stories these women have and are now able to learn how to be even more powerful. The laws haven’t changed, so they just need to change their tactics.
I’m not speaking up or saying my story. But I am going to talk about the importance of consent. The importance of being open and comfortable when talking about what you want to experience physically, emotionally and sexually. I want to turn the conversation away from the sexual assault and turn it towards educating men and women on their rights. On saying and truly listening to the word no. I want to teach them that going further than someone is comfortable with is not a story or an option.
I keep seeing me too on social media and it breaks my heart for all the women and men who have experienced this. It break my heart for all the people who feel so powerless and small that assault is the only way they feel they can gain some sense of strength. I feel proud and stand with the women who are speaking out. But I also stand by and respect myself when I choose not to. When I choose to educate from a different angle.
If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
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Unsplash photo via Allef Vinicius