Being a survivor of sexual assault, rape and as a result, a PTSD sufferer, means every single week in the year is hard.
There are some good weeks, some tough weeks, but every week is hard and notions of what it is like to live a normal life are long since forgotten.
This week began with triggering audio and accounts of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged crimes against women spanning some 30 years. This was already a painful reminder of the type of power-hungry predatory men that stalk women consistently. Then Alyssa Milano decided that women should come forward with the Me Too hashtag if they had experienced sexual harassment or abuse. This act was about exposing the massive extent to which women (and indeed sometimes men) are harassed and attacked by men and also about expressing solidarity with one another.
Listen: The women of Mamamia Out Loud talk about what is happening in Hollywood. Post continues after audio.
What I thought had the potential to make me feel less alone, and less isolated, had the exact opposite effect. I was shaking, constantly to be reminded how frequently women experience this victimisation. Flashbacks began as I watched what appeared to be a tsunami of stories of sexual assault. It made me sick.
This is not to suggest that these women who revealed ‘me too’ have done the wrong thing. Far from it. But we need to make sure this isn’t where our awareness ends, that it isn’t the only forum in which we can ensure women are heard, that it is not the only way people feel they can deal with the violent world in which women exist. And we need to make sure this goes beyond women.
Why should we feel the onus is on us to let men know how bad this is? It is not on us to suffer more, it is on men to open their eyes. Why are we the ones that ‘need’ to speak up? It is on men to support their friends, their relatives, their colleagues. It is on them to talk to each other. It is on them to move past tokenistic gestures and create meaningful environments of change, care and understanding. Creating this environment is too hard for survivors to do alone, we shouldn’t have to do it alone.