2017 was a year that women spoke up. They came forward about being sexually abused. The #metoo campaign was strong, from celebrities, to the girl next door. Very rarely do I become mesmerized by social media movements, but I could not stop scrolling and searching the #metoo hashtag, I was enthralled by the amount of posts.
At first, I felt like a bystander, but then I read the stories of the women who were willing to share and I felt like I was getting hit in the gut over and over and over again. There were moments that I literally could not breathe, moments that sucking in air was physically impossible. Why was this? I simply could not figure it out. But not once did I have the desire to post #metoo on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Deep down I felt like a traitor to my fellow women, a traitor because I never spoke up.
“I am a failure as a woman, I have failed my fellow womankind” was on repeat loop in my head for days. Had I done my due diligence, than maybe another woman would have been protected, or not had to endure the same pain that I had.
#metoo reminds me that I chose not to act, not to be honest, not to seek justice…that I failed.
Staying silent…and the guilt associated with that
My realistic brain knows about a victim’s mentality and that I AM NOT A failure. I had made peace with the fact that as a young teen, I hid a forcible attack, and then other harassment in my work place OR situations that happened at dance clubs, movie theaters, rodeos, or when I was a waitress (by customers).
I vowed five years ago that I would never be a silent victim again and that I would stand up for others who were victimized. I kept my own stories private because I did not want to admit that I let other women become victims due to the fact that I never had the courage to speak up about what happened to me.
I admire the #metoo movement and the women who have the quick thinking ability to take selfies of the men that are verbally accosting them on the street, or turn in their attacker in right away, but I cannot help but feel gut-wrenching amounts of guilt for staying quiet all of this time. Now I am a mom to a fifteen-year-old daughter and all I can think about is what a weak example I have set…..
Truthfully, I did not engage in the #metoo movement because I spent days feeling guilty and sick to my stomach watching the movement and reading everyone’s stories. I was reliving each of my own incidents over and over and over again, and I knew that if I posted that I would care who responded to my #metoo post, I would care what people said, and I would keep reliving my past pain with every “like”, “retweet”, or comment. A few years ago I gave the men that put me in this position forgiveness. This allowed me to move on and live in a state of gratitude for being alive, being strong, being brave, and being a woman. Now I give myself forgiveness.
Thank you for coming forward
I commend the women (and men) who came forward and who continue to come forward. I know the strength this took, and as a mom, I am proud that my son and daughter have you to look to as public figures.
“This is the time for women, men, and gender non-binary people to organize, resist, and actively work to dismantle rape culture, which has enabled an environment that normalizes and trivializes sexual assault.” Dr. Hobson says. “The #MeToo movement has been helpful in highlighting just how pervasive sexual harassment and violence is in our culture. But we need to now have honest dialogues and action that promote consent, mutuality, equality, and respect.” (1)
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.