#Metoo But That Doesn’t Define Me!

Anyone who is on social media has seen many women posting the words “Me too” in the last few days.  It was started as a way for women who have been victimized by sexual assault and rape to be able to share their stories while also de-stigmatizing the act of speaking out.  It amazed me how many women in my social media networks bravely shared “me too.”  Sadly, I know there are many victims who didn’t share, and that’s okay because our stories belong to us to share when and if we want to.

What an eye opener. The amount of me too’s circulating online have been both liberating and devastating.  I was an other woman to write the words. I am liberated to speak out. I am devastated to see so many are in the same situation.

Since opening the Pandora’s box of “me too,” I have had a few conversations with people about the topic that haven’t been easy.

First there was a text from my oldest sister, “how come I never knew?” she asked.  Our conversation allowed me to tell her several stories I had just never brought up despite us sharing intimate details of our lives to each other all the time. It strengthened our bond that much more to open up about yet an other area of life that is sadly a norm to many women.

I had dialogues with friends about the topic, including some males. I was interested to see the way males reacted to this. My heart breaks for the men who have been sexually assaulted and raped and didn’t get their chance to speak up as this was a dominantly female trend. I hope those men get to share their own stories and de-stigmatize their trauma as well, because it too, is real, and too common.

I read comments of males that didn’t understand the severity of the situation because they were equating it to situations that they have overcome, like bullying for example. The problem there is that sexual assault is a lot different than bullying.  Comparing the two would be like comparing a broken bone to a stubbed toe. Yes, both hurt, but not the same. Even my comparison is an insult to sexual assault, because a physical hurt is so different then a sexual hurt. Physical hurts heal, but sexual ones often leave lifelong scarring.

The shame of being a victim of sexual assault combined with the stigma attached in our culture is truly heartbreaking.

The fact that my timeline was littered with so many “Me too’s” is heartbreaking. I really hope this helps people become more aware that this is a huge problem with our culture that needs addressing.

We need to defend our daughters, we need to inform our sons. We need to teach our children new patterns so that this decreases because no one deserves to be a victim of sexual assault.

I must confess, since this has been brought up, it has opened a door in my heart that I thought I could keep shut forever. In discussing some stories I am reminded that I am a victim of sexual assault too.

I’ve been in pain since I’ve opened the door. Being reminded of the events of my past have not been easy. Looking at my ten year old son and wondering have I done enough to raise him to be courteous and respectful as he is approaching the teenage years? Seeing my daughters play innocently and wonder have I equipped them with enough courage to stand up for themselves or to speak out?

I am raising 2 sons and 2 daughters. I have both sides of this dilemma. I have sons to educate and daughters to inform. I have a heavy task upon my shoulders of trying to make sure my sons become men who stand up for women, not men who belittle and harm women. I have daughters to raise, who I pray will live freely and comfortably never experiencing what so many women have, and if that burden falls upon them, I hope I can equip them with enough courage to confront and overcome.

In the meantime, it is too late for me. I can’t go back and undo what’s been done. I cant avoid that place, that person or undo the sadness in my heart about these events. They happened. They are done. Now I need to heal.

I foolishly searched online for the names of three men who victimized me. I stopped searching after that, realizing I was only hurting myself further. But, interestingly enough, I came to see that all 3 of these men now have daughters.  I wondered if they thought of me when they saw several “me too” statuses on their timelines. Did they remember the pain that I carry? Or did they just forget about it, having technically gotten away with it?

I wondered did they look at their little girls and think, “I hope no one ever puts my daughter into a situation where she could write me too as well.” Did they feel guilty reflecting on the situations of their past? Did they feel tempted to send me an apology message? Should I message them and tell them I haven’t forgotten?  I decided not too.  Although, I do hope to one day get an apology because that at least shows remorse, and shows they recognize their actions caused me pain. I don’t need it though. I’m going to carry on with my life regardless, and be the woman who does her best to do better for the kids I’m responsible to raise. I don’t need to bring them into my current life, because they can stay in my past where they belong.

Before #metoo, I wasn’t thinking of this often because I had tucked it away ever so nicely to ignore as much as I could. I wasn’t prepared for a social trend like this to remind me of the skeletons in closet that I was hiding so as to pretend they didn’t exist. But they are out now and they are on my mind. I fear that for many, the #metoo trend has been damaging.

If you have been shaken and reminded of your hurts because of the me too trend, I pray you are able to find peace to deal with these situations hopefully for the last time. But mostly, I hope you can stand in unity with me promising to do more to make sure less people carry this pain. Let’s take people seriously.  Let’s blame the person responsible, not the victim. Let’s create a culture that holds people accountable for their own actions rather than accuses victims of doing this to deserve it, or wearing that to suggest it.

Let us rise above. Let’s start by remembering we are not what has happened to us!  I am not just a victim of sexual assault. I will tell you what I am: I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a passionate person. I am someone who is motivated, encouraging, sarcastic and faithful.  I am strong. I am capable. I am full of worth, love, and joy. I am in charge of my future and I declare it will be great.

I am thankful everyday that I married the man I did.  We have been together since high school, and he was honestly the first person I dated who didn’t make me feel uncomfortable. Let that be a goal for you, men.  Be a man who makes women feel comfortable. Out of that, my husband got true and genuine love. He has respect from me. And I can’t wait until I can tell our children that fact.  Sons, be like your father who never made your mother uncomfortable. Daughters, be like your mother and find someone who always makes you feel safe.

Come on people, lets not let the #metoo concept be a trend that we forget about in the months to come, like Kony2012 or various other internet trends that blow up and are long since forgotten.  Let’s take the pain many are feeling as they relive these memories and use it to fuel a whole new and stronger society. Let’s discuss preventative measures with our spouses in raising our own children, like do we allow sleepovers where our children can potentially be exposed to these things? Let’s talk to our sons and daughters about consent. Let’s advocate for one an other. We all deserve safety, and it is a right we as human beings have. Let’s seek the resources we need to heal and recover gracefully so the next time we say me too, it can be to answer the question “have we made a difference?”

http://www.canadianwomen.org/stop-the-violence (statistics that we need to lower)

http://www.sexualassaultsupport.ca/support/ (sexual assault centres in Ontario)

http://www.avoicefortheinnocent.org (for male victims)

https://crcvc.ca/links/ (resources galore for all victims)

http://www.cwhn.ca/en/node/18961 (Sexual Assault support for women, including a 24 hour number.)

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