Sexual assault awareness and the #metoo movement release millions from the clutches of fear. Speaking out heals the shame not of the sufferer’s making, yet endured in silence for far too long. Now survivors are heard and supported, two vital elements to healing.
Who would have dreamed there were so many?
In October 2017, #metoo on social media asked for personal stories of harassment in the workplace. Within 24 hours, over 4.7 million people responded. The enmasse airing dazed our national consciousness with its magnitude. It was a rough collar shaking. To the public: Listen up! To the victims: Speak up! To the violators: Time’s up!
At age 63, I am heartened. Predators and intimidators have nowhere to hide. Experiences were shared from every strata of society ranging from celebrities to the forgotten and disenfranchised. I understand better what spawned silence on so many sexual assault fronts. Children molested by priests were defenseless against disbelief and the unassailable authority of the church. Rich and powerful men in the entertainment industry controlled actresses’ careers and preyed on them. Athletics is the epitome of a child’s healthy mind and body. Surely, one could trust sports doctors and coaches. All violators felt protected by their status and power.
How the mighty fall.
It takes time, but as Luke 12:2-3 says, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”
It’s a long journey on roiling waters. Rising to the surface are issues of proportionality and due process, questions about revenge or lies. Ridicule, finger pointing, the endless “what about him, her, or them.”
It’s part of the painful but necessary examination of all aspects of sexual assault, with a goal of future protection to others.
I choose to focus healing; those newly released from the strangulation of secrecy. Sharing painful experiences that wound one’s spirit by staying silent. The victimized feel shame over molestation, rape, sexual assault, or giving in to intimidation. But they do not own those sins. They are not to blame.
“Me, too” are potent words of empathy. To me, spiritual empowerment is affirmed in the passage, “I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)
And we shouldn’t either.
— Email Suzette Martinez Standring at firstname.lastname@example.org.