This week, we (Amy and Rhea) were witness to our social media newsfeeds completely populated with #metoo. And we added our own #metoo to the list along with our daughters, friends, family members, colleagues, acquaintances, teachers, students, clients, pastors, leaders, mentors, strangers. Men and women alike. All generations represented. If you missed it somehow, it also said, “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.” It arose in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal when innumerable women came forward detailing decades of his sexual assaults and harassment.
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.
We sat down to process what this week felt like to us as we imagine you may have done as well. It has felt sobering, overwhelming at times, and terribly sad; we have also been angry, outraged AGAIN, and defeated at moments. But mostly, we feel called to action. AGAIN.
What about the non-#metoo people?
We’ve had conversations with other women who didn’t write #metoo because they felt the way in which they were harassed, assaulted, or abused was not “bad enough”, they are still carrying the shame that prevents them from speaking out, they are still too traumatized to use their voice, or they feel like that event does not define them. We’ve also had conversations with men who detailed all the mental gymnastics they go through when trying to decide when to touch a woman. Wondering if they are standing too close, never initiating a hug, not assuming just because they’ve hugged before that it is alright another time, being careful with compliments, and careful with humor, language, and spontaneous expressions.
We keep hoping and thinking that things have changed…but this week has shown that is not the case. Starting with the stories shared this week, the most important action you can take is to Witness Each Other’s Stories.
What are we to do?
Gather a small group of friends who are willing to tell their story. Speak one at a time. Listen with no interruptions. Validate the others’ experiences and feelings. Don’t compare. Don’t advise. Just LISTEN and EMPATHIZE.
Believe one another. Refrain from judgment. The story is this person’s truth. Regardless.
Engage in an email or pen pal relationship with someone. There are reasons a person doesn’t feel safe enough to share in person. Sometimes they are located too remotely. Many barriers prevent someone from being able to do this in person. Reach out. Be available in creative ways.
Use your collective voice for more awareness and action. Gather a group together to write a letter to send to all of your legislators.
Why is witnessing someone’s story important?
When your story is HEARD, you become empowered. You might gain enough strength to speak up–to face your abuser. You might decide to seek justice. You will likely recognize that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You might be empowered to help others. We know there is strength in numbers, after all.
The gift to us from #metoo is the opportunity to witness each other’s stories, to come together in new and powerful ways, and to enact change. Clearly this is a marathon, not a sprint. And as we’ve seen, the race is not over. #Persist
Life is still very Messy. Witness Each Others’ Stories. It’s how we create marvelous change.