Change is happening. As a woman, I can feel it. In public discourse, it’s everywhere. There is an unspoken history of sexual violence which is now at the forefront, and victims are choosing fight rather than flight. As we become more aware of this truth through the stories being told we cannot help but want to make change in strides and not steps. But how do we stay focused on what exactly we are fighting for when mainstream media convolute the message?
As a survivor of sexual violence, I feel obligated and inclined to restore the power imbalances and injustices that I know so well. It took me 15 years to tell my story, fight my internal demons, and confront and make peace with the past. I choose not to share the details of my story here and now in fear of triggering or re-traumatizing others… or maybe I’m just not “there” yet. And we must remember that that’s ok too. I believe that the MeToo campaign has the potential to help create the culture, platforms and dialog needed to combat the shame and self-blame that trap victims in silence for far too long. I am also conscious not to become hyper-focus on where the onus lies as it jeopardizes the “movement” into becoming simply a passing moment. What I have learned by being more open and candid with my experiences is that the details or circumstances of my story is not a rarity. This is not to downplay anyone’s experiences or trauma but sometimes such details can sensationalize a situation which can distract from the intention of sharing in the first place. For victims of sexual violence, the “shock-factor” serves no purpose. I see this in Hollywood as others are also finding the courage to come forward and tell their stories. This should all be liberating and empowering, but I can’t help but feel somewhat detached and disconnected from it all when conversations circle around the Harvey Weinsteins and Trumps of the world. I’d like elevate the conversation beyond seeking justice, redemption and/or revenge because this movement cannot center on placing blame or perpetuating fear. By sharing our experiences, I hope that future generations can have open discussions surrounding sexual violence. Sexual violence and abuse is a pandemic; it is not industry specific, bound by gender lines, or restricted by age. We must be careful to not lose sight of the underlining social norms and inequalities that have perpetuated this pandemic. I believe the MeToo movement is about survivors supporting survivors through knowledge, awareness and encouragement with the end goal of prevention. This is me reclaiming my story.