In essence, I’ve been saying “me, too” for many years as I share my story in poetry and prose. But it took a celebrity Tweet to make it go viral.
One of my Facebook friends posted: “#metoo. (God I hate that I have to post that…).” As I’ve seen the Tweets and Facebook posts of friends and family with the #MeToo hashtag, I keep thinking about a paragraph in Chapter One of my unpublished memoir.
I haven’t shared much of the actual memoir on this blog because publishers don’t like to publish material that’s already out there in one form or another. Yet, this paragraph has haunted me today, nagging at me to be shared.
To this day I don’t fully understand why I didn’t tell a soul what Luke* had done. In the 1970s good girls didn’t get themselves into situations where such things could happen. Maybe I thought I had wanted it, like he said. Perhaps I didn’t think anyone would believe me. Even now when I tell the story parts of it seem preposterous and unbelievable.
Why is it that we hate to say that we’ve been sexually assaulted? Why do our stories sometimes seem preposterous and unbelievable even when we’ve lived through them? Why are we afraid to tell?
Typing that last question makes me angry to think saying “me, too” requires fearlessness. We have to be willing to face the fear that others won’t believe. But who cares if others believe what we know to be true?
Why is this crime—because sexual assault is a crime committed by the rapist, not the raped—treated differently than robbery or attempted murder or mugging? Victims of those crimes are never afraid to tell what has happened to them. They don’t worry that people will say they are lying, because they know the truth of what happened to them.
Perhaps expecting the perpetrator of a sexual assault to feel ashamed is asking too much. They may not be concerned with the depravity or illegality of their behavior any more than a robber or murderer is.
But let’s stop expecting the victim of a sexual assault to feel ashamed. Let’s stop feeling ashamed of ourselves for having been a victim. Let’s stop believing that to say “me, too” requires bravery, and believe, instead, that it only requires honesty.
And let’s always remember that God knows the truth and He calls each of us Beloved.
*Luke is not his real name. I’ve changed certain names in my memoir to protect the forgiven (though certainly not innocent).