Why the fuck is anyone surprised? Women, femmes and non-binary folks ALL experience sexual harassment and/or sexual assault. Feminists and women have been talking about this for literally decades. There have been a number of different twitter and social media campaigns which have gone viral in the past year or two alone.
Honestly, this was the first time it really got to me. I was so triggered last night that I couldn’t sleep. I was suddenly terrified that my ex would show up at my house and kill me. This has been a fear of mine for years and it escalates during any times of transition and whenever media stories about women being murdered as a result of domestic violence hit the press. I was lying there at midnight my heart racing, jumping at every sound. My logical mind told me that I was safe, but my PTSD mind/body/heart was screaming that I was in danger.
And I was angry.
I’m angry because I have no faith that me tweeting or posting #metoo on social media will protect me. Of course me too! Of course! I’ve been blamed for not telling anyone about being abused. Then I was blamed for how I told people. Then it seemed I was blamed for telling at all. I wasn’t believed. I wasn’t believed by SO many people and institutions. Sometimes I feel blamed for not recovering more quickly, for being “cynical” or for struggling with PTSD.
Both of the times I experienced intimate partner violence, people could have known. There were signs. I was desperately sick. In and out of hospital. Trying to kill myself. Self harming on a regular basis and starving myself. It wasn’t a mystery that something was seriously wrong.
All the signs add up. I had literally every possible coping mechanism and reaction to experiencing violence from disassociation, to depression, from shame to self hatred. When I finally talked about it, there was no logical reason to question my story. But of course the stigma of mental illness clouded the picture. Some people didn’t believe me because they thought I was mentally ill. They were wrong. I was mentally ill because #metoo.
Women, femme and non-binary people struggle with so many negative, and in many cases life long, impacts as a result of sexual assault and harassment. In some ways, I feel like I’ve lost a good portion of my life. It’s actually too painful to fully acknowledge and grieve the things (and parts of myself) I’ve lost as a direct result of violence.
I don’t want to keep talking about it. I don’t even always want to tell the stories in this blog.
#metoo rubbed me the wrong way.
I want to see #ididit or #ignoredit. I want to see perpetrators get on social media and admit to the sexual assault and harassment they have done. I want to see men, especially cis men, get online and talk about how they failed to intervene, how they participated in, and benefited from, rape culture.
Because make no mistake, #metoo, is about rape culture. But it is time to stop placing the responsibility for changing rape culture on the survivors. It’s time for men to step up and hold each other accountable. It’s time for men to mentor young boys, teach them about consent culture and tell that that sexual assault and harassment is not cool, not okay and clearly illegal. It’s time for criminal courts to sentence rapists to REAL punishments. It’s time for police forces to actually take reports of sexual assault seriously, for officers to believe survivors and investigate the crimes competently and efficiently. It’s time to take the work of ending gender based violence out of the sexual assault centres which support survivors, and into classrooms, homes, court rooms, and everywhere in our society. Ending gender based violence is going to take an overhauling of the entire criminal justice, policing and education systems.
We need real accountability for perpetrators. Women, feminists and sexual assault support workers have been doing this work for too long, unsupported by society. We get labeled “radical” or “hostile” or experience other put downs. We get further punished for speaking up against this violence within a society that profits from, and even praises violence against women.
We need to believe survivors. We need to create safer spaces for those who can’t yet disclose to come forward when they are ready. We need to create a safe place to land for survivors. We need to create a consent culture and a society which fully supports survivors.
AND in parallel we need the help of MEN and the system (which was largely designed by white, affluent men) to hold perpetrators accountable.
One survivor is too many! We shouldn’t need to scroll through pages and pages of folks posting #metoo to realize the magnitude of this problem. We already know the magnitude, we need to stop pretending that we don’t. We need an end to victim blaming and a realization that sexual assault and harassment is SO common and SO wide spread, that I don’t know a single woman or gender non-conforming person who couldn’t post #metoo if they had that option.
But they shouldn’t have to.
End gender based violence. End violence against women.
Enough is enough.