Lately, I’ve heard some criticisms of the #MeToo movement and those writing about their experience. I’ve had people suggest that some may be “bandwagoning” and questioning why a victim would take months or even years to speak out.
This excellent article discusses why sexual assault allegations come in waves.
When people tell their stories about being raped/sexual assaulted, believe them. It takes a lot for victims to overcome fear and speak the truth.
It doesn’t matter what they were wearing. It doesn’t matter if they were dating their assailant. It doesn’t matter if they were intoxicated. It doesn’t matter how many months or years it takes them to come forward. It doesn’t matter if the accused is your favorite leader or celebrity.
If you haven’t lived through it, you have no idea what it is to carry around an experience like this. You have no idea what it’s like to constantly be afraid of not being believed. I can’t imagine how terrifying it is for those attacked by powerful men. These victims have seen their attackers protected by money/fame/status for so long. They are exceptionally brave, and I am grateful that they finally feel safe enough to speak. They deserve our support and belief.
For some of you, believing Kesha and Lady Gaga and Lupita N’yongo and Rose McGowan and Leigh Corfman is easy, but believing the victims you know personally is a struggle.
I beg of you to understand and internalize that your peers are just as worthy of support and belief. In a world where the legal system so often fails us, telling our stories is all we have. Most of us have nothing to gain.
It doesn’t matter if the accused is your friend. It doesn’t matter if they’ve “always treated you with respect”. It is normal for people to behave differently with different people. Abusers can be nice to you and still be monstrous to their victims. Jeffrey Dahmer didn’t eat everyone he met.
I told my story and named my attacker because I felt strongly that I was not his only victim. This feeling turned out to be correct. In the time since I first came forward publicly, I have been contacted by eight other women victimized by the same man.
Sharing my experiences has been difficult, exhausting, and often painful. For me, it is still worth it to try and protect others. Sexual violence happens all the time. That has to change.
I am so glad the #MeToo movement started so soon after I came forward. It’s been incredible to see women believed on a large scale for the first time in my life.
I choose to believe victims. You should, too.