One Year Later: What’s Next for #MeToo?
Today marks the one year anniversary of the tweet titled #MeToo asking if others had experienced sexual assault in their life. The response has been overwhelming and sobering. One year later, #MeToo has been posted more than 19 million times. Now as we reflect on the massive cultural shift we’ve seen in 2018, we ask ourselves, “What’s next?”
The #MeToo movement shed light on an issue plaguing women for decades. Reports show that up to 81 percent of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment, 51 percent have experienced unwelcome sexual touching and 27 percent are survivors of sexual assault. Up to a year ago, we heard very little about this problem pervading our schools, workplaces, churches, and homes.
#MeToo gave women from all backgrounds the courage to come forward with their stories of abuse. Leaders who fostered a culture of harassment were outed. TIME magazine even named #MeToo orchestrators as their Person of the Year.
Yet, we have so far to go.
While #MeToo has created awareness about sexual abuse and harassment, there are many more forms of primary abuse that all need our action. And, few first responders understand what not to do when a victim of abuse has the courage to speak up. Incorrect responses compound victim’s trauma. At M3ND, we call this Double Abuse®, and it is an unfortunate and often unintended way first responders damage victims especially pastors and lay and professional counselors. Additionally, even well-meaning friends and family members can be perpetrators of Double Abuse by not believing or questioning someone’s story of abuse causing them to feel a strong sense of hopelessness and despair.
So, as we enter the second year of #MeToo, how can you help go beyond awareness to action?
If someone tells you they have suffered abuse, the best thing to do is say, “I’m so sorry that happened to you.” And that’s it. Just listen. Do not assume you know better or place expectations.
Offer support on the victim’s path to recovery without unmerited advice. Let them know you will take the long walk towards healing beside them.
If you know someone is the victimizer in a relationship, face them with a calm, thoughtful, even-handed conversation. You are not “intervening.” Instead, you are helping victimizers, whether they are your colleagues, friends or family members, become aware, to think, and to face the reality that what they are doing is harmful.
We have many resources at The M3ND Project to help everyone – whether you’re a victim, pastor, counselor or friend. Together we can take #MeToo to the next level and enact real and lasting change.