#MeToo. Chances are over the last couple of days you have seen your friends and/or family posting this hashtag. You have also possibly uncovered the meaning behind it by now. For me, I saw it several times so I had to look it up due to my nosey nature. What I saw broke my heart. So many people I know and love have experienced sexual assault. Not just been affected by it. As humans, we are affected by many things we do not directly experience. No. They had experienced the violation of nonconsent in one form or another.

Tarana Burke is the unsung hero behind a hashtag that has fueled a firestorm of conversation that is long overdue. According to RAINN, 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Take a moment to let that statistic break through your skin and into your mind. Then, allow it to move from your mind and into your soul where it lights a flame within you.

We cannot continue to live in a society that fancies itself blaming victims along with perpetrators. Too long we have allowed ourselves to ask the question when a woman accuses a man of sexual misconduct: “Well, what was she wearing”, “Was she drinking”, “Why was she alone?” All of these questions lead back to one statement that is subconsciously being stated: “She should have known better because of course he couldn’t help himself.”

When I look at all of those hashtags on my social media page, I find myself wondering how many of those hashtags actually reported the incident. Then I wonder, how many were taken seriously or justice was rendered? How many could not make their fingers press the buttons, but felt that sink in their stomach and whispered to themselves, “Me too…” Something that soberly reminds us that according to MCASA, only 15.8-35% of assaults are actually reported.

What is equally disturbing is the amount of men out there who will not take part in this. The men who feel as if their victimization is emasculating in some way. Reflecting on the many things I have heard from others on the subject of male sexual assault. You see the comments when a teacher victimizes a student, “Who would complain!?” or “That’s every guys fantasy.” Worse still are the ignorant comments that believe men cannot be assaulted. The ignorance surrounding the response to an assault as consent when it is an anatomical reaction.

 

We have to do better. We have to start placing the blame where it belongs and that is not on the shoulders of survivors. It is not creating standards of what it should look like to be a victim. It is realizing that when we question the validity of sexual assault by gender, sex, clothes, alcohol, or anything else we take the focus away from the perpetrator and become perpetrators ourselves. We victimize the victim all over again.

Hopefully you are still with me because I am now talking to you #MeToo.

  1. You did nothing wrong.
  2. You did not ask for what was taken from you.
  3. You have nothing to be ashamed of because shame should be reserved for those who do wrong- Refer back to number 1.
  4. You are here which means you are strong.
  5. I hear you, even if I cannot see you, touch you, or speak your name.
  6. No matter if you put #MeToo on your social media, or simply held it in your mind and heart- You are brave.

As a society, do not let this conversation die with a trending hashtag. Keep the conversation going. It is time to stop sharing “How to avoid sexual assault” and start sharing, “How to not engage in rape culture”.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault and you feel the need to speak to someone privately, you can call 1-800-656-4673 anytime day or night. You do not have to share openly to be validated. I am here right now validating you. You are important and deserve to be heard.

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