Trigger warning: This article discusses sexual harassment and sexual violence, which may be triggering to survivors.
You’ve probably seen the hashtag. And you probably know what it means. #MeToo.
Since stories of sexual assault and abuse in Hollywood broke in October, women and men have told their stories of sexual abuse or assault on social media, tagging them with the now-famous phrase, #MeToo.
Maybe you’ve added your own voice to the movement. Maybe you’ve typed #MeToo.
Or maybe you haven’t shared your story or typed #MeToo, but your heart definitely cries out in heartbroken silence, Me Too!
For some survivors of sexual abuse or assault, the #MeToo movement has been empowering, a pivotal moment in healing. A very real acknowledgment that you are not alone, that you are seen and heard and believed. This movement has done a lot to take away the shame and secrecy of sexual abuse and assault.
For others, the near-constant news-stream of abuse and assault allegations against one famous person after another has been overwhelming, a trigger for many memories and hurts to surface. Maybe it’s brought up pain you weren’t quite prepared to handle.
If you’ve been abused or assaulted, first we want to say that we’re so sorry this has happened to you. It shouldn’t have happened. As you know by all the #MeToo hashtags on social media, you’re definitely not alone. And you didn’t deserve this. Nobody does.
So, if you’re struggling with all the emotions that have come with the #MeToo movement, we want to encourage you.
Choose to participate, to speak up, to hashtag, to read the news. Or not. Everyone is different. For some people, speaking up and sharing their stories publicly will be empowering and freeing. For others, it will feel too overwhelming, too risky. You might not be ready. You might never be ready to tell anyone outside your closest friends. That’s OK. It’s OK to protect yourself. It’s OK to not read the news articles. It’s OK to skim over someone’s social media post about their assault. You choose the level of participation that is best for you. Don’t feel pressured to tell your story publicly if you aren’t ready and if you don’t have the resources and support to handle it.
Pay attention to your reaction. You may have noticed that your anxiety level has increased. You might feel down or withdrawn or hollow. You might have nightmares or feel like you’re reliving the abuse or assault. You might feel like your heart is racing or like your stomach is cramping. You might just feel extra stressed for what seems to be no reason. If you’ve been reading a lot in the news or in your social media feeds about big, abuse scandals or about the abuse of your friends, then it could be that those stories are triggering traumatic responses in your body. If so, we encourage you to find someone — a mental health professional or a trusted friend — to help you process through this.
Consider talking to a professional. If you have survived sexual abuse or assault, talking with a professional counselor or therapist may help you move beyond the trauma. Having a professional look you in the eye and say, “I hear you, and I believe you,” can be very healing. People trained in helping abuse and assault survivors can also help you understand the trauma and learn coping skills as you process through it all.
If you’ve been sexually abused or assaulted, we want to connect you to people who are trained to help you. If you’re in Kearney, you can contact the Family Advocacy Network at 308-865-7492 http://www.familyadvocacynetwork.com or the SAFE center at 1-877-237-2513. http://www.safecenter.org If you’re in Grand Island, you can contact The Crisis Center at 1-866-995-4422. http://www.gicrisis.com
However you are handling this #MeToo movement and wherever you are in the healing process, let us remind you of your worth, your strength, your love. Take some time to care for yourself — show yourself kindness; give yourself comfort; connect with someone who supports you. And if we can help you in any way, please call us.