|photo by Bob MacInnes / flickr|
One of the big insults to all these women who had the courage to come forward and say: "Me too" has been all the chatter we have heard lately. Why did they wait so long? If this was such a problem why didn't they say something when it (supposedly) happened? Well, I think we have our answer without looking too closely. The way these women that have come forward at great risk have been treated speaks multitudes. Talk about abuse.
Being a man I can't quite answer the questions--but I will try. They did not come forward because they were afraid they would lose their jobs. Many had families they had to support. Many were on a career track and they were certain that if they said anything they would be in real trouble. Why didn't they do something or say something before now? They were fourteen years old and did not know what to say. They were seventeen and were afraid of what fathers, boyfriends or those at school would say. We've heard it all: They must have asked for it. Or--look at the way she dressed. Let's look at her sexual history. Hmm. It took enormous courage for these women to begin to speak out. And we should listen...and we should change this picture.
Actress, Alyssa Milano recently used her Twitter account to encourage women who had been sexually harassed to assaulted to tweet the word, "MeToo." In the first 24 hours a spokesperson from Twitter confirmed Alyssa Milano's Tweet had been tweeted nearly half a million times.
This whole debate by men about abortion, about contraception, about unequal pay for women who do the same job as men and a multitude of other issues reflects just how much we still need to change the picture. Abuse takes many, many forms and women know this well.
My friend in Birmingham sent me an email that his daughter had sent him. Worth pondering. Thanks Cecelia Watts.
" As a counselor, I see women frequently that have been sexually abused and work with them on these issues. They suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, trauma issues, relationship problems and other issues that are related to their sexual abuse. Their abuse indeed has lifelong and far-reaching very harmful effects. I could not count the times that I've been the first person these women told of their sexual abuse that many times occurred years or decades ago. The reason they don't tell sooner is fear of not being believed and shame or embarrassment. And many times their fears were realized because they weren't believed by their own mothers if they did tell because it was their father or their mother's boyfriend or another family member who was the perpetrator. And they were told to be quiet and no one stood up for them. There's therapeutic value in abused women telling their story and caution is important when deciding whether one believes them or not. Because the next woman to come forward about being sexually abused could be that person's mother, aunt, sister or daughter."