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One Year After #MeToo Went Viral, What Have We Learned?

One Year After #MeToo Went Viral, What Have We Learned?

Pause for a moment – and think about the fact it’s been one year since #MeToo went viral.

October 15th of last year, a single tweet sparked a national conversation, stating: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” CNN News reported, “On Facebook, the hashtag was used by more than 4.7 million people in 12 million posts during the first 24 hours.”

4.7 million stories.

This is overwhelming. I think about each of you who have faced these harrowing moments and with everything in me—I just want to know you are okay. I want to know you are a year close to wholeness—to hope. I want to know you have good support.

A year later, what have we done with these surfaced stories? Did we support you? Did we listen to you? Were we there for you? Or did we forget two weeks later?

In light of a post #metoo world, the process of who should be and how we should change has only just begun. Whether you are a survivor or a supporter, the need for transformation is vital.

As I look back on the past year, there are three key things we need to reckon with:

1. None of us have a right to say someone else’s feelings are not valid.

Such a gushing surge of open vulnerability was met with a range of reactions last year. It demanded survivors and supporters face open discussions about a widespread issue. That conversation continues today.

And while there is a current, ongoing debate about false reporting, I want to be clear that this article is not about that topic. This article is for those who have been assaulted or harassed and seek to move forward. This piece is about supporters who want to continue walking alongside those they love. A National Survey reported 81% of women and 43% of men have faced assault or harassment. There is plenty to discuss surrounding individuals who faced legitimate negative impact due to the fact their story is represented by that statistic. 

For survivors who posted #MeToo a year ago:

First, your feelings are valid. If you felt victimized because you were taken advantage of—I believe you. Male or female. Young or old. It should have never happened to you. This past year has taught many of us about the necessity of assigning appropriate responsibility, and removing burdens that aren’t yours to steward. Hopefully, you’ve had the support to move towards that healing space through a restoration process Jesus has promised to each one of us. 

For those who offer support:

Recognize there will be posts and conversations in the upcoming days, weeks, or years. Consider how you need to be prepared when someone posts online or shares with you in person. Educate yourself about what resources are out there. Commit to investing in these people and pursuing them during their healing. You can and should ask them if it is ok for to regularly check in.

In short—initiate responsiveness and healing on their behalf, at their pace.

2. We must recognize the phrase “me too” serves as proof that we seek connection.

#MeToo is a statement of connectivity. It says, “I know where you have been.” The undertone allows for a mutual and safe expression. That is powerful. That connection element was the fuel behind the viral fire. It is our responsibility, as survivors and supporters, to continue a journey of connection. 

For survivors who posted #MeToo a year ago:

Continue discussing moments and heart matters that are important to you. Don’t believe you are “too much.” Don’t think your story isn’t worth it. If someone trustworthy has provided you space to explore the healing journey, dare to continue that conversation.

For those who offer support:

As I have walked alongside a number of individuals, the one thing I recognize is it is a long journey. Offering support may cost a high level of commitment for a length of time. Make the decision early and then remind yourself to initiate care on their behalf.

3. We have to take the conversation beyond a social media post.

For survivors who posted #MeToo a year ago:

Seek additional pathways to continue your healing journey offline. This is not to criticize your online vulnerability, it’ simply an encouragement to make sure you have all of the professional and personal support you need.

Sexual assault is not only about an event — it is also about a loss. Often, survivors feel a loss of safety, hope or innocence. That void requires a grieving process. Experts say that the only way to truly work through devastating loss is to fully express and reveal the emotions of that loss with another human present in the room. Another human. In the room. Emotion revealed and validated.

These things are not accomplished in a social media post alone.

Move the brave and vulnerable post you shared into those relational spaces; human spaces. You are worth such connection. 

For those who offer support:

Go beyond a social media response post that only says, “you are so brave.” Pick up the phone. Like, actually call someone. Tell them you saw their post and just wanted to check in.

There is a swirling mass of discussion on this topic due to recent news events. In all likelihood, for those who posted a year ago, the renewed attention it is bringing up a lot of old hurt. Now is a good time to check on people who shared those stories and find out if you can be there for them — both when the topic is in the headlines and it isn’t.

Where do we go from here? 

Together, we can become people who promote healing and form a tribe of strong connection. I am not sure what life will look like on the five or ten-year anniversary of #MeToo. We can only hope that as we continue to choose vulnerability, fight through the darkness for our own healing and initiate support for each other that we can find the wholeness we were created for.

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