Me Too. Two simple words are changing our society.
The good is evident: Women (and men) who have long been silent are finding their voices, naming their abuse and their abusers, and drawing strength from each other. Just as importantly, those they’re telling are listening. From a healing standpoint, all this is so significant and so good.
In our experience at Regeneration walking with men and women who have been sexually violated, here’s why this is so valuable:
First, fear, shame, and pain can compel victims to remain silent about the abuse. Many victims hope in vain that not talking about it will make it go away, but instead burying it leaves the abuse inside where it festers, and it leaves the perpetrator unaccountable for his or her offense.
But when brave ones tell their stories, others are more likely to experience hope and find their courage.
Second, many who have been sexually violated wonder if what happened to them was their fault. Did I do something to deserve this? Did I ask for it in some way? Sometimes this is literally what they’re told: If you hadn’t dressed like that… If you hadn’t been drinking so much…
Sexual assault is always the fault of the perpetrator. There is never a justifiable reason to violate another person sexually.
Third, it’s been far too common that when one does speak up, instead of getting the help and support they need, they’ve been dismissed, mistrusted, blamed, or even re-victimized. A dysfunctional community seeks to minimize, justify, or stifle stories of sexual abuse, and so heap wounds upon wounds.
A healing community is one where hurting and vulnerable ones are listened to, believed, and supported. A healing community is one that garners and uses its strength to protect the vulnerable rather than using its strength against the vulnerable. A healing community recognizes that healing from abuse takes time.
And lastly, sexual assault and abuse are widespread and common problems in large part because those who have violated others have not been held accountable. Justice matters to God. A culture cannot care for the wounded and weak if there is no justice.
On an individual level, healing from sexual abuse includes re-establishing healthy boundaries and being able to maintain those boundaries. On a cultural level, it is our collective responsibility to hold those who hurt others responsible for their actions and whenever possible, to help them also to change.
A momentum has been building in our culture, and it’s encouraging.
If you’ve been sexually violated…
Have hope. Let the many who are sharing their stories encourage you. Where you haven’t been believed before, where you’ve been too afraid before, where you’ve felt so much shame before, be encouraged. You’re not alone and you don’t need to carry this alone.
Find help. I’d encourage you to begin not by posting your story online, but by finding a safe community—a trusted counselor, therapist, friend, pastor, or loved one with whom you can share—who will listen, walk with, comfort, pray with, and over time if you so choose, help you decide whether you want to share your story with others.
If we can help in some way, please let us know. We’re here for you.
Question: Do you see other benefits of the cultural movement happening now? If so, what do you see?
Next week, I’ll discuss a few pitfalls to be aware of amidst this cultural movement, if we truly want people to be healed and free.