If you have any form of social media or happen to know a living, breathing human being, you've heard the "#MeToo" movement circulating around. For those of you who do happen to be living under a rock, let me enlighten you. Alyssa Milano posted the following photo on Twitter eliciting a movement:
This post went viral and people swarmed as it revisited a concept originally created by Tarana Burke. The seemingly simple action of being honest and open about her own experiences prompted other victims to share the horrors they've experienced. This briefly changed the dynamics of social media and how we view people. Instead of just seeing a two-dimensional name on a screen, typically clothed in black and white, we saw in the most vibrant of colors for the first time in what seemed forever. These names became tangible; humans -- both men and women -- who all experienced something together, whether it was realized before or not. A unity was formed as walls broke down and the stones that were around hearts began to fall away. No longer was anyone alone.
Healing, along with time, comes in speaking about the things that have wounded and damaged us.
I've always been open to sharing my experiences, which is incredibly cathartic for me and, hopefully, valuable to others. I believe this is why God has allowed me to go through so many trials and tribulations. It was never for me as much as for my peers who need to hear the hope I have that He is good; He has never left nor failed me.
My story begins when I was 10 years old, being molested by none other than a family member. It continued almost every time I saw him, which was as frequent as 1-2 times a week over a 3 year span. These vile acts promptly stopped the moment my now ex-husband and I started dating. Maybe it was that he knew my then boyfriend was a second degree black belt. Maybe it was that he was afraid I would tell "our little secret". Maybe it was that he was finally done with me. I don't know or care, nor does it matter now.
I still see this family member.
This "man" has tried to hold my sweet child. He knew I remembered his repulsive acts from the past as I immediately pulled her away, leaving him with an ominous glare. I will never leave her alone with this person or in the care of anyone who may leave her alone with him. My daughter will not be your diminutive plaything too. Because of my own experience, I will never force my daughter to hug me or anyone else without her consent. I won't treat seemingly harmless physical affection as a requirement, therefore creating an environment that she has to be touched unwillingly.
She is 10 months old. It is NEVER too young to start.
This human being is no longer a part of mine or my sweet Adelaide's life. The day he tried to hold my daughter was the last day I stood victim to his presence.
I live with the overwhelming guilt of being dirty, defiled, even less than...or should I say "lived"?
Because I wasn't really living then, was I? I was existing. I became a shell of a creature living under the torrential downpour of stolen goods. I was once so ashamed because of what had been done to me, but now I am redeemed and made new. I have a Papa that doesn't belittle me because of the experiences that I never asked for. This is not to say that there are days I don't struggle, because that would be a lie. But it's to say that I serve a God that isn't afraid of my emotions, and in fact, wants them. He wants to meet me in my hurt, anguish, fury, and shame; to cover them in His perfect grace.
You may think that you are alone in your story, but you are surrounded by survivors. 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted along with 1 in 10 men. You are a part of a community of wildflowers that is finally flourishing after being left for dead. You, my friend, are beautiful. You aren't profane, but brand new. You. Are. Brilliant.
Now friend, you and I have to have a little talk. If you are like me, you saw the #MeToo posts and felt a call to action; a sense of urgency. But I exhort you to evaluate yourself within, whether you are ready to share your story. There is no shame in sharing, but healing. Unfortunately, our society views opening yourself up to questions is deplorable. Know that you don't need to answer anything. Ignore it all if you must, but have comfort in knowing that I know what it feels like to be triggered. I know all too well the feeling of anxiety building in my veins, the blurry vision, my body beginning to vibrate, my throat closing up, nausea setting in for an unwillingly bumpy ride.
You don't owe anyone anything. This is a safe place, but I know the world has tried to show you that it isn't, moreso, has proven that to you in an all too personal way. Your experience is valid and your pain is real. YOU are supported.
Olympian McKayla Maroney said something that I want to resonate with you to today: "Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back. And remember, it’s never too late to speak up."
It's never too late.