The recent spate of sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations have shed light on a widespread and troubling problem that has existed for what seems like centuries, perhaps longer. However, as bad as the allegations themselves are, the conversation which they have brought with them is an important one that has been required by society for a long, long time.
Challenging society’s views on what a trauma survivor is and should do has been difficult to watch. It has also exposed the very narrow minded view people have of they think a survivor is and how a survivor must react to trauma or, in society’s head, they are not survivors at all. As this gross underbelly of silence is exposed, the more people’s attitudes towards it are being exposed to.
Let me state here as a victim of sexual assault how grateful I am to the survivors who have been brave enough to step forward and tell the world their stories. It takes an immense amount of courage to do so because to even admit yourself to be a victim of trauma is an extremely difficult journey. Admitting it to the world is a mammoth task of unbelievable burden because you are risking being called a liar.
And exactly this has happened to every single one of the survivors who have stepped forward. They have been victim shamed and blamed and accused of lying in every forum possible. Their names have been dragged through the mud all because other people have a very limited view of what trauma looks like.
Trauma is a nuanced thing that speaks a thousand or even a million languages. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of people don’t report what happened to them, for a spate of extremely good reasons. People don’t talk about what happened to them for many many years as a method of coping just with everyday life. Even their closest friends are entirely unaware of what happened to them because that is how trauma speaks. In such a unique way to each person it has happened to that you sometimes need to bury your pain to survive.
The problem is not how trauma survivors choose to cope. The problem is society not choosing to aid trauma survivors and finding ways to either blame them and protect their abusers. If only we open our minds to the possibilities of how different trauma speaks through each individual only then we will move forward as a society and stop violence and harassment.
Only then we will stop asking #whynow and instead instead find a solution to why so many people are saying #metoo and how to best aid them instead of getting in their way.