When I first heard about the #MeToo movement, I was ecstatic to give a strong voice to something that society had deemed filthy, dirty and secretive. I thought, Finally! We no longer have to be small and pretend nothing ever happened for the sake of not making others feel uncomfortable. But, with every post I saw, my joy and vindication slowly turned into this heart wrenching sadness. In time, however, I realized that every “me too” I read was a challenge to win back every part of every person that was stolen, and win it back with love. Because love is stronger than hate. Love is stronger than abuse and violation. Love is the most powerful weapon we yield.
This time last year, many of us who fell pray to sexual assault felt those same feelings of violation all over again. We watched a few brave women come forward and share their experiences. Many of us felt the pain in their words reverberate in a place buried deep within us. Many of us felt like they were narrating our own stories.
A year ago, we lived in an age where those of us who had been violated were expected to wrap ourselves inside our stories like a patchwork blanket of secrets. That blanket became our identity, yet no one knew it because the blanket was invisible. And it was filthy. It was something we were never allowed to discuss or show to anyone. The soiled patches on the blanket were gag orders, embarrassment, humiliation, secrecy, and shame. Sexual violation was something we simply did not discuss.
Fast-forward one year. Those few fierce women who came forward last year inspired a movement that spread like a wildfire in a dry forest. We have all seen how many brave and heroic humans have come forward since, less afraid to share their own stories because of the fearless few who used their words.
We live in a world now where movements like the #metoo agenda are becoming the new normal. People are coming forward and sharing their stories like the beautiful badges of honor they should be.
I remember being nine years old, forced to face and forgive my own assaulter. I asked my Mother, “Why, Mom? Why did this happen to me?” Her response has stuck with me for twenty-one years. She said “One day your story is going to help someone else. You did not go through this for nothing.”
NONE of us have gone through what we went through in vain. A lot has changed this year. There has been a great deal of heartache, terror, fighting and confusion. But, my hope is that 2017 will be remembered as the year where we took off our blankets of shame and found the courage to tell our stories. The year that we found the strength to turn our violations into victories and beautiful stories of survival. The year we found freedom in our bravery. The year we were heard. Amidst all of the confusion, hatred, and division that 2017 has brought, let us remember this as the year that light finally got to shine in the darkness. The year that we got to watch broken things learn how to shine brilliantly.
Never be afraid to share your story. You are heard. You are enough. You are brave and beautiful. And you are not alone. For she who is brave, is free.