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It's Time For a Culture Change

It's Time For a Culture Change

Sad. Angry. Heartbroken. That’s how I feel today after watching person after person for the last 24 hours post “me too” on social media. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what I am talking about, this began after actress Alyssa Milano charged women to post “me too” if they’d been the victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault in an effort to show people the magnitude of this problem.

For me, every day “me too” is my reality as both a survivor and victim advocate. I am exhausted by the fact that survivors must chose to out themselves as such for society to recognize that we are here. I shouldn’t have to continue to share with you that I was raped while attending college or tell you that what feels like weekly I get catcalled while walking down the street for you to take a moment to think about how this happens every day and to people you love and care about.

I’m exhausted that myself and other survivors must carry the burden of the abuse every day of our lives. That even with therapy the trauma does not just magically go away. I am exhausted by the fact that so many survivors continue to harbor the secret of the abuse due to shame, blame, and the fear of not being believed. I’m exhausted that survivor after survivor can come forward with sexual assault allegations like in the cases involving Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein and people want to victim blame and question what the survivor was wearing, drinking, or doing to contribute to the abuse and violence. I’m exhausted by how society is much more concerned about an abuser’s status and power than about how the survivor must feel both physically and emotionally. I’m exhausted by how a man can be elected as the President of the United States after admitting to “grabbing women by the p****” and then excusing this language and behavior as just being “locker room talk.”

We have to do better. Although acts like “me too” help bring awareness to sexual violence it really does little to change the beliefs and actions that contribute to sexual violence happening in the first place. What I am talking about is the need for culture change and the changing of social norms. We need to make this an everyone issue, not just a “woman’s issue.” We need to challenge degrading comments and rape jokes and not stand by idly. We need to become empowered bystanders and safely intervene before a sexual assault can occur. We need to allow for men and boys to be vulnerable and not socialize them into buying into this “macho man” complex. If you would like an example of how you can help men and boys do this, you can start by not telling my two year old and four year old sons to stop crying when they get hurt, or how they can’t wear their favorite pink shirt because wearing pink makes them look like a girl. We need to start believing survivors and put responsibility on the perpetrators. We need to continue to live in the uncomfortable and question how am I being part of the solution instead of the problem?

Help me to create a world where no person has to feel like they have to post “me too” to their social media account in an effort to be seen, heard, and supported. Even if I’m doing it alone, know that I will continue to find the strength to fight for survivors even if there are days that I may feel sad, angry, or even heartbroken.

- Jolie Moran, Outreach & Advocacy Program Coordinator
 

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