Screw ‘Me Too’ and Rise Above
I have wrestled heavily with posting this. I know it will likely make someone (or many someones) uncomfortable or even angry. However, as the mentor for a page that is predominantly comprised of women, my conscious has continued to prod me and refused to condone my silence.
I hate when that happens.
I know it might surprise you, but I don’t necessarily enjoy the craziness and controversy that almost always accompany viral posts. I didn’t create this site to gain fame or notoriety from the millions but rather to love the struggling One well – to change the world one beautiful life at a time.
And there within lies the problem with my desire to simply press delete and forget this ever crossed my mind. I know somewhere out there she – the precious One – needs someone to say this – and God is telling me that someone is apparently me. Sigh. So here goes nothing.
By now you have likely seen these two seemingly innocuous words boldly plastered or hashtagged on the pages of women across social media over the past few days.
But what does it mean?
In case you haven’t quite figured it out yet, it is a movement begun by actress Alyssa Milano to bring awareness to the widespread problem of sexual harassment and assault on women. By posting these two words in their statuses, your friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, nieces, aunts are making the statement that they have been the unwanting victims of sexual harassment and/or assault in the past.
Over twelve million women have already courageously jumped on the train and declared to the world, “me too.”
Let me be very, very clear. I am in no way criticizing Ms. Milano’s movement here. In fact, I absolutely support her idea and am extremely proud of the women who have felt compelled to stand up and courageously post a ‘me too’ status.
But I won’t be one of them.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought about it long and hard. Two days ago, I typed out those very words on my personal page and then sat there staring angrily at them, trying to understand the unexpected emotion roiling up inside of me like a deadly black storm cloud. In the end, I couldn’t bring myself to press the send button.
To what end? What would it really change?
If twelve million and one women bravely display their deepest scars for the [cruel] world to judge, will the very same world that ignored their cries in the first place…or perhaps even perpetrated their pain…suddenly stop glorifying the sexual exploits of men and muffling the cries of sexually exploited women?
Is the world seriously still ‘unaware’ that 25% of women report being sexually assaulted…and that the vast majority never report it for the validified fear of retribution and shaming? Or that genital mutilation, rape, and sexual slavery are acceptable activities in many of the countries around the world?
Forgive me if I find the hope of sudden revolution or claims of continued unawareness a little hard to believe.
Therefore, the only feasible reason I could discern for personally making a public declaration was to announce my comraderie with other women who have been through the hellish torment of sexual assault – to let them know that they are not alone.
And this is the reason that I found myself staring at the words on my screen contemplating the emotional repercussions of pressing ‘send’ – my deep love for the women I mentor. That’s when I finally realized something. In order to love them well, I don’t need to don my past abuses like some societal scarlet letter; I need to tell these women they are more than the circumstances of their past.
I don’t want to form a camaraderie of shared pain; I want to send a message infinitely more powerful to my sisters. We can rise above the pain!
My own amazing life is a living, breathing testimony to the actuality of this incredible, freeing truth.
Me too? You know what…screw ‘me too!’
I have spent my entire life fighting – struggling to rise from the suffocating darkness of my ‘me too’s’. I refuse to be defined by the pain of my past! I will not dredge up and breathe new life into the monsters I have fought so hard to slay.
I owe society nothing!
‘Me too’ is not some cute, temporary trend that is going around social media. It is not some interesting statistic. It is a brave revelation of the darkest moment of these women’s lives in the hopes that something will change, that the next woman will be spared the same devastation, that the other ‘me too’s’ out there hiding will know they are not alone.
‘Me too’ are not two meaningless words on her page; it is the place where her body was viloated, her self-esteem was shattered, her innocence was stolen, and her view of the world was forever changed. It affects the reflection she sees in the mirror and the way she is able…or unable…to fully give herself to her spouse.
I don’t need, nor do I want, the influx of sad face emoticons, hollow apologies, and outpouring of pity that accompany the declaration of ‘me too’ on social media.
What I want is respect for who I am today, despite my past. What I deserve is a standing ovation for refusing to be branded and destroyed by someone else’s destructive choices.
What I need is for you to have heeded my small frightened voice when I begged you for help. What I needed was for you to have taken a stand for me when I was helpless and weak and being prayed upon by my monsters.
What I needed was not complacent ‘awareness,’ but passionate intervention.
Instead you looked the other way. Instead you called me a liar. Instead you told me I was crazy and imagining things. Instead you told me that it was my fault. Instead you caged me – the victim – and set the dirty animal free.
So yeah. Screw ‘me too.’
As I stared at those two increasingly dark and heavy words on the page, I suddenly knew I would not claim them; I would not give my past abusers the satisfaction of branding me a forever victim. In fact, I vehemently refuse them on behalf of all victimized women around the world and instead give them the permission to find the inner courage to rise above it and be more!
So here is my message: RISE ABOVE.
To the men who abused us, hurt us, violated us, preyed on us: Never again! We are victims no more, and never shall we be again. What you did was about your inner darkness, not ours. We have spent years and even decades struggling to breathe through the suffocating folds of guilt and pain that your violations wrapped us in. Yet, here we are still breathing – thriving. In spite of you, we are amazing, successful, strong, beautiful women. You did not destroy us. Your darkness does not define us. And you know what else? We forgive you. Not for your sake but for ours. Rise above!
To the people who ignored our pleas for help – who further victimized the victims: Shame on you. You had the power to save us and you did nothing. NOTHING. By your complacent inaction, by turning your head, you condoned the heinous crimes perpetrated against us. When you accused us of lying or imagining things, you shamed us into silently enduring our horror and drove us to a place of desperation and darkness. When you blamed us, the innocent victims, for the acts of our abusers you nearly destroyed us. Our pain scars your hands. I have spent my entire life overcoming the effects of your inaction. No thanks to you, I survived. Rise above!
To our leaders, legislators, courts, legal system – Do something. We need harsher punishments for sexual offenders and heftier protections for those who have been targeted. You need to stop victimizing the victims. You need to hear the the distressed cries of the oppressed and the terrified whispers of the abused and give them a voice instead of trying to shut them up by shaming them into silence! You need to stop putting the reputation of the sex criminal before the reputation of the abused woman. Our bodies are our bodies and sexual crime against us whether by a stranger, a ‘beloved’ athlete, a boss, our own spouse, or a well-known politician is a crime! Rise above!
And to my ‘me too’ beautiful, brave sisters all around the world: You are more! You are not defined by the circumstances of your past or the crimes perpetrated against you by evil men. You can overcome the pain and rise above it. God loves and wants you exactly the way you are. He can and will heal your brokenness and drive out the darkness with light if you only allow it. I am living, breathing proof.
Sisters, shed your chains and embrace your future. Defy your ghosts by living successful, joyful, powerful, full lives. ‘Me too’ does not own you. Refuse to live in the shadows of your yesterday, but step boldy into the brilliance of your tomorrow.
There is no shame and no guilt in what happened to you. Do you hear me? Zero. There is nothing you could have done or not have done to cause what happened. Nothing. The blame lies solely on the shoulders of your abuser. Period. Hold your head up high because you are precious and beloved.
And know this. You are not alone, my strong, beautiful, brave, amazing sisters. You are understood and fiercely loved. Rise above!
I stand here boldly before you today looking ‘me too’ in the eyes and declaring at the top of my lungs for all the world and, more importantly , my precious One to hear:
“Rise above, beautiful sister. Rise above!”