Currently on Facebook, there are countless women posting the phrase — Me Too. #MeToo
The explanation for the appearance of these two words is: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
I’m not sure where the campaign originated from, but the power of those two words haunts me as I encounter woman after woman posting the phrase and offering up explanations.
It’s the explanations that haunt me most. Not because of their content, (though they are heart-wrenching and sad to read) but rather, because it speaks to a deeper ennui that we suffer through. The powerlessness that comes from feeling we must offer up an explanation rather than stand in the power of our words. In this case, those two words, Me Too.
When we provide an explanation or the story behind the assaults, the sexual harassment, the discrimination, we buy into the notion that we have to defend against our right to not be harassed or assaulted or discriminated against.
We do not need to defend our right. We need to claim it. Stand in it. Be it.
Abusers abuse because they can.
I spent almost five years in a relationship that was killing me. He was doing what he was doing because that’s what he does.
I stayed, not because he was doing what he was doing, but rather, because in listening to his lies, in buying into his insistence he owned me, I lost my voice, my persona, my belief that I could live my life differently.
When I was freed from that relationship, people asked me, ‘but how could you not have known? Why didn’t you stop him?”
At first, their questions felt like a judgment. Like they were looking at me as somehow to blame for what he did.
What he did is what he did.
What I did was stay after the first time I caught him in a lie. After the first time he yelled. After the first time, the second time, the third until time stopped and I stood still in my fear.
To defend against my fear of being judged, I wanted to tell them ‘because I didn’t’. End of story. Period.
Instead, I offered up explanations… Because I didn’t believe I had the right. The power. The ability to stand up.
I lost all sense of direction. All sense of who I was. I lost my senses.
And in that place, the only thing that made sense was what he told me about me, did to me, wanted from me.
What he wanted. I gave. I did. I said.
In that place, right and wrong took a back seat to survival. Even in those moments when I didn’t want to live, I couldn’t give up on living.
It was in my DNA.
And that brings me back to the haunting nature of women explaining the times they were assaulted, discriminated against, demeaned because of their sex.
It doesn’t matter if it was once, or a thousand plus a thousand times. It doesn’t matter if it was one word, a thousand words or a covert sexual gesture or an overt sexual act.
Every time is wrong.
Every time hurts.
Every time breaks down the delicate fabric of our psyches leaving us in a place of ‘less than’ where the more we want in our lives becomes one simple plea. “Make it stop.”
When I was in that relationship, I kept praying for someone to ‘Please make it stop.’ I kept looking for someone to see me, to actually see how lost and terrified and alone and frightened and beaten down I was.
But they couldn’t.
Not because they didn’t care.
It was because I wasn’t telling.
I needed to tell the truth. I was being abused.
Yet, I didn’t dare. He told me I couldn’t. He told me I wasn’t being abused. I believed him. I did not believe myself and stayed silent.
In my silence, I lost myself and almost lost my daughters.
I am grateful. My daughters and I have grown beyond survival to the amazing beauty of our lives today. It doesn’t change the fact there’s evil in this world. It doesn’t change the abusers.
It does change us.
We are free and in that freedom I can state without fear, shame or sadness, Me Too.
And in my Me Too, there is no need for explanation.
It is the truth.
And in my Me Too is my I will not be silenced.
Not because abusers don’t exist in this world. They do.
My ‘I will not be silenced’ is because I claim my right to have a voice. To speak my truth. To live out loud.