Let’s make some people uncomfortable. Let’s talk about things that MATTER on social media. Selfies and quizzes and memes are fun but let’s set aside a little place on our social media accounts and use our voices to talk about problems we face and how we can make the world a little better.
You’ve probably seen the #MeToo hashtag and “Me Too” statuses trending around your Facebook and Twitter feeds. This is because of the Me Too movement, a campaign to ignite conversation and draw attention to the problem both men and women face: sexual assault and sexual abuse.
As of right now, there are 12 MILLION Facebook #MeToo statuses, most of them from women who have suffered from sexual harassment and are coming forward on social media by posting “Me too.”
12 million. Bravo to Tarana Burke, activist who started this campaign to create awareness of the magnitude of the problem. 12 million people have been affected by this problem in one way or another and that number is ASTOUNDING. These are the people that decided to come forward. Just think of the number of men and women who have been assaulted that weren’t ready to come forward or haven’t heard of the movement.
Some of these people have been assaulted multiple times. Multiple. Let’s add in that number now. Just imagine. I hate to say this, but I had no idea how big this problem was until this week. Assault is silent. But not anymore. Social media has given EVERYONE who has been assaulted a voice. Whether or not everyone came forward, there is more attention on this problem than ever before.
My first semester of college, I moved out of state to an apartment full of strangers and I was terrified. Growing up in a small(er) town, you know almost everybody. I knew the faces of the people I went to school with. I was comfortable. Moving to this new place where I knew very few people, I became a bit of a hermit. I didn’t want people touching me. ESPECIALLY guys. It made me so uncomfortable. I didn’t want even a friendly hug, and soon enough, all of the people in my ward knew it.
There were two guys that would make fun of me for it. At the time, they were my friends. They would come up to me and hug me on both sides in front of everyone we knew and it was funny to them. I would squirm and get out of their grasp but this made them think it was a game. They really didn’t understand that I was truly uncomfortable. That, or they didn’t care. But, I was 18 and naive and they were the “funny, cool” guys that everyone became friends with so I never had the courage to firmly tell them NO. **Edit: I actually do remember firmly telling one of them “no,” but he called me a bitc* (for making him look foolish), so that was the last time I stood up for myself like that.
I had a conversation with one of them once, when he asked me why I didn’t like physical touch. He asked me if I’d ever been raped. I said no. I really didn’t understand then why I didn’t like it, I just didn’t and I didn’t have an excusable enough explanation for him.
One night, he and this other “friend” of mine came in my room while I was alone, on my laptop and they jumped on top of me and pinned me down in my bed. They did inappropriate things on top of me while I tried to kick them off. They were laughing. This was a joke to them, but I felt scared and humiliated. My personal space had been terribly violated. They left soon after, and I closed the door, locked it, and cried. I couldn’t understand why I was so upset. Looking back, I know I’d been sexually assaulted, but I was confused at that fact because it was by two “friends” that I thought I trusted.
Assault can happen to anyone, and BY anyone. They’re not always by strangers in a dark alleyway or in a bar, which is what I’d been led to believe my entire life. Sometimes, it happens in the comfort of your home or by someone you trust.
I feel very lucky to not be emotionally harmed by this experience or any others that have happened to me. These, to me, were very mild cases compared to others I have heard of from people I know. I’d forgotten about it until this campaign emerged. But the reason I’m bringing it up is because I stayed silent after it happened because I thought it didnt matter. It wasn’t a big deal. If it hurts you physically and/or emotionally, if it makes you uncomfortable, if it was unsolicited, IT’S A BIG DEAL. The first person I told was my husband, and that was years later. It was then that I realized how WRONG it was. This is MY body and I choose what happens to it, regardless if anyone else thinks my anxiety is silly or unreasonable.
This campaign is about awareness. Hopefully, this discussion can create a change and help victims of sexual assault feel comfortable talking about it and seeking help, and to the people that listen to them, BELIEVE them and take these cases seriously.
This problem will never ever ever change. But. The way we treat this problem can, and should. If the barrier between victims and the rest of the world hasn’t already been broken, hopefully, it has been now.
If you’ve been assaulted, come forward. Talk to someone you trust. Talk to a professional. No one should go through this alone, and there are people around you that can actually help. No matter how small or big you think your assault was, you deserve to be heard and taken seriously about it. You might not get retribution as some cases don’t, but you won’t feel alone. And that’s so important. You are NEVER alone.
Please don’t be afraid to use your voice. We’re all here on this earth with the same goal in mind. To make it through. To be happy. Painting an image of perfection on social media is helping NO ONE. Talk about the hard things because we all go through them and we ALL could use a hand.
Much love to you all.