By Richard Ray:
#Me Too needs to be a movement. The sad truth is that more people than you could ever imagine have been victimized by sexual assault.
For far too long people who have been the victims of sexual assault have lived in silence… Silence in part out of fear… Silence in part out of guilt… Silence in part out of shame… Silence in part out of not feeling they had a voice or options against others they viewed as more powerful (physically or otherwise). They were wrong to be silent, not because their feelings were in no way valid, real or understandable, but because silence ultimately empowers predators to live without consequences and potentially ( even most likely) repeat their despicable behavior.
I am about to make a claim, that if I did not know it to be 100% true, would seem hyperbolic if not completely exaggerated. I do not know a woman personally who has not suffered from some type of sexual assault in their lives. These sexual assaults unfortunately run the complete gambit and cover the full age spectrum from young children to grown women. By know I am claiming women that I have had some type of relationship/friendship that allowed (or at least I truly hope I was not being intrusive in at times asking) for such personal conversations to take place. The only women who I exclude from this are my mother, aunts and first cousins, simply because I have never had an conversations with them close to the subject.
In most cases many of these women had never publicly shared their traumatic experiences. I feel honored that they trusted me enough to share… my message, while never enough in itself, was always the same, to tell them the they were not alone, to not keep it in, and where applicable pursue charges against their tormentors or at the very least expose that person. Much like what is taking place with the #MeToo is that so many women (people) are realizing that they are not alone in having experienced sexual assault and by telling about their experiences and in some cases outing the predators, they are allowing their transference from victims to survivors.
I am not claiming that speaking about sexual assault publicly is a cure all catharsis for the traumatic experience, but purging of the silence either to authority figures or publicly is a first step in regaining control of an experience that was most likely out of their control and made them to feel helpless.
Speaking out also has another effect. Predators need to be exposed. All too often, as we are seeing in the headlines, when reprehensible and criminal behavior goes completely unchecked it allows these men to simply continue in their serial behavior. Men in general need to behave better toward women (people). These conversations need to be had to open people’s eyes to how prevalent these assaults have been and to begin a change starting with discussion and teaching what is never acceptable behavior.
All of these headlines have had me take a hard look at my own behavior over the years related to women. While I can categorically say that I have never sexually assaulted any person in any form in my lifetime, I have to acknowledge behavior that falls far short of “gentlemanly” or respectful in the past. It is no excuse… I really probably did not know better or worse thought it was okay at the time… but that is the point that I take… that men need to be taught better when it comes toward acting respectfully and responsibly toward woman.
In college I remember the “No means no” campaign and took it to heart in every interaction I had with women… However, while effective and still necessary, there needs to be so much more taught. Young men need to be be better schooled on more acceptable and appropriate behavior toward women. Let’s start by reminding boys to place their mother’s or sisters in place of the women they are interacting with as a a barometer for acceptable behavior.
#MeToo needs to be a movement, both as an empowering example of survivors uniting as well as a talking point for us all to re-examine our standards of behavior and respect to all women and people
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#MeToo, #SexualAssault, #BrettRatner, #HarveyWeinstein, #rape, #women, #NoSilence, Kevin Spacey, #JamesToback, #Hollywood, #scandal,