“Women, especially those of us with a media platform, will have to figure out over the next few months how to have this conversation. If we do strip off our Band-Aids and tell our stories in their own gruesome detail, we may need to build a new culture of personal journalism.” Kate Maltby, CNN
This week, I am closing out another semester of Mending the Soul; a 3 month support group & study for women who are survivors of abuse. While the time spent with each group of women covers every spectrum and type of abuse, sexual abuse/assault/harassment is always part of the stories I hear. In every single group, every single time, without question. One of the activities that comes from this 3 month period is to create a timeline of significant life events. Good experiences are listed above the line, bad ones are listed below. My own timeline first reflects sexual abuse in 1976 when I was 4 years old. The impact from this time period in my life and what I experienced has created residual damage that has lasted decades. As a result, I have sat with groups of women, time and time again during Mending the Soul and have effectively been able to share with them #metoo.
Add to that an incident from my adolescence from a time when I briefly lived in a suburb outside of Austin, TX. My group of neighborhood friends and I would spend hours at the park down the street just hanging out. There were probably 8-10 of us at any given time. One weekend, after a heated tennis tournament, I was called into the house of our best tennis player. Unsuspecting, I went inside and suddenly found myself trapped in a bedroom. What ensued next was a group of 5 boys holding me down flat on my back. It happened so quickly, I was momentarily stunned. When their intentions became clear, I maniacally fought them like a crazed lunatic and screamed with every primal instinct I had within me. I was determined this would not happen without brutal, bloody fight and then just as suddenly I was released. One of the boys reported the incident to the school counselor, it seemed this event disturbed him too. The counselor called me into their office to ask me if I was okay and outside of that time, I have never talked about this incident nor have I added it to my time-line. I don’t know whether it goes below the line because it happened or above because of how I fought back. What I am certain of though, is for every other girl who has been in a similar situation, #metoo.
Much later when I was 21 and I worked for a small lighting company, one of my co-workers, Paul A., began a much subtler approach of sexual harassment. Paul was approximately 25-30 years older and he began sharing details of a relationship he had had with someone from his past. Gradually, the details began to include distinct tastes in clothing, to entertainment and eventually erotica. Soon it became clear Paul wanted me to mirror the fetishes of his former fling and when it became increasingly uncomfortable, my primal instincts took over again. This time I confronted, I accused, I challenged. I used words, logic and reason as my defense. It was loud and abrasive but it was also effective. I have never talked about this nor have I added it to my timeline but perhaps its time because #metoo.
The me too Movement: http://justbeinc.wixsite.com/justbeinc/the-me-too-movement-cmml
About Mending the Soul: https://mendingthesoul.org/