If you’re anything like me, you understood #metoo before it ever became a movement. You’ve heard friends share their personal stories of assault and abuse, you’ve seen friends or even strangers cat-called and harassed at concerts, bars, or on the street, watched the uncomfortable forced smiles of co-workers in response to inappropriate comments at work, or feared for your safety simply because you’re a woman.
And you know what… #metoo.
But in the wake of this cultural movement, you might also be feeling a sense of confusion or even frustration based on the stories being shared in the mainstream media… or maybe with how your friends and family have responded to it in their comments at home or on your newsfeed. The stories being elevated in this movement almost all pretty clearly fit the legal definition of rape or sexual assault. They’re the ones that even liberals and conservatives can agree are indefensible and wrong. The mainstream media often portrays these perpetrators and survivors of gender-based violence and their stories in a very clear cut, black and white, way… sometimes even forcing these stories into stereotypical molds of “evil perpetrators” and “perfect victims.”
In response to all that, here are some questions I’ve grappled with, that I’m willing to bet you’re struggling with too:
What about those of us that don’t feel like our experiences fit neatly into that visual of what a “victim” looks like? What about those of us that have felt like something was a bit off or not-quite-right but never truly felt like our life was in danger? Or knowing something wasn’t right, but not having the words to describe to ourselves, forget trying to describe why it was wrong to others? As this cultural movement sheds light on what acceptable behavior looks like, how does that redefine the unclear or previously “borderline” experiences we have in our pasts? How do we reconcile our experiences as part of this larger cultural movement? What does this mean for how we think about ourselves and our experiences and even our identities? Do these stories really matter? Do they count?
I’m here to tell you that they absolutely do. No matter how complicated or confusing: Your. Story. Matters. Your story matters.
I am a domestic violence and sexual assault survivor on a mission to share my story to ensure others don’t experience what I went through. Because all our stories are different and similar and important. Because enough is enough. I’ve spent my career running, supporting, and evaluating youth-centered programs that build our young people into strong, confident, leaders –so they’ll know what’s healthy and what’s not when it comes to relationships. I don’t shy away from having the conversations we all think about, but don’t know how to begin.
To solve the deepest, most difficult issues in this fight for true equality, we must talk to each other. Otherwise, we’ll never get there. I created this website so you can join me in my fight for true equality by dismantling a society that accepts violence against women.
I would love to hear your feedback, stories and thoughts. Send me a message using the form below.