Social media feeds have been buzzing with the hashtag #MeToo, a movement started 10 years ago by activist Tarana Burke that catapulted into global attention this week with actress Alyssa Milano’s tweet to ‘give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.’
The problem being sexual harassment, abuse and assault.
For many women, it’s a chance to speak up. To be heard. To realize we are not alone.
Although not an easy thing to share, I add my #MeToo as a victim of violent assault: third year in university, wrong place, wrong time, bad stuff happens. Lying in the snow, battered and bruised, violated; suddenly life seemed important, a gift.
Faced with death, I asked God for life… and miraculously I survived.
Why is it so hard to share our stories? Why is it victims are ashamed? When will we get it through our heads “it’s not our fault?” Part of this shouting out is to let others know we are NOT alone.
And, we are NOT to blame.
Many suffer in silence, too afraid to say anything that might chip away at masks we put on that everything is okay. As a southerner I can masterfully whip on an ‘everything is fine’ mask.
But, when you’ve endured abuse and assault, it’s certainly not fine or okay.
Back then it was hard sharing even with close friends, because I didn’t want to drag them into the dark place of fear where I lived for awhile. Total terror, even in bright sunshine? Not an easy place to be.
A few years later in D.C. when a speaker couldn’t come to a monthly women’s gathering, a friend said, “Virginia, you should share your story.” It took a bit of courage to ironically give that talk entitled ‘Courage,’ but it opened something up in the women in that room as over half shared personal stories of abuse, rape, and assault.
Wealth, color, age – didn’t seem to matter (although we were mostly 20-somethings.) It opened my eyes to how violence and abuse against women is such a horribly big issue. Not just here, but all around the world as I saw later in Kosovo, where rape was used as a weapon of war, and with Congolese refugees in Tanzania.
Today, when there have been over half a million tweets and Facebook “#MeToos,” the magnitude of this challenge has not diminished. If anything, it’s worse.
“You are more than the bad things that happen to you. You are the grace that follows.” (Malaya, Code Black)
There’s a lot of horror associated with abuse and violence. Victims do not just immediately bounce back into the groove of life. It can take years to sort out, especially dealing with fears that jump us in all shapes, sizes, and ways. Insecurities, ditto. How we view ourselves? How we find our beauty grooves when denigration chips away at our insides?
Life is a gift, but sometimes it’s hard to receive when it comes in wrapping paper of suffering. It takes courage to open our hearts to love, the healing kind that’s God’s specialty, to find beauty again inside the gift of our lives. To let ribbons of celestial joy lift our desolation. To let the Everlasting Arms of God’s everlasting love encircle our hurts and ease our pain.
We cannot change what happened to us. Some scars will stay with us forever. But, we have a choice: these scars can be red and throbbing, debilitating, or we can let the white-hot poker of God’s love pass over them with healing grace.
Scars still, but white and fading.
It’s an arduous journey, courage required. One size does not fit all, but the love of God does, will, and is all about helping us deal with impossible hurts in our hearts, our minds, our lives.
For me, there has been so much grace, so much healing, so much love.
God used that horrible event in my life to open my heart to helping others. From being scared of my shadow to later standing between gun-toting-soldiers and children in conflict zones – God dried my tears, took away my fears, and turned my pain into compassion for others with the healing love of Jesus.
As all these #MeToos overwhelm us in magnitude, there is HOPE.
We are not alone.
grace, peace & hope
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
Bravo. This took courage to share.
Thanks for your encouragement, Tim. It means a lot! ✨🤗💜🤗✨
No words , just tears of love for you and others
Your tears of love mean a great deal, Carol-Jo – as does your encouragement & friendship these many years. Lots of love & hugs! 💜🙏💜🌷💜
#METOO – What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Every word in your post perfectly describes my trajectory post assaults by my father. It takes a long time to heal but it is a wonderful time we live in now because shame is no longer a relevant feeling.
Bernadette – I can’t imagine that horror. My parents were such a cocoon of God’s love for me thru every trial & tribulation – even when I worked across several oceans they prayed every day (& called every week.) Thank God for healing graces for your heart (& soul & spirit) & for the healing you are now for others. Much, much love! 💜✨🙏✨💜
Your words bring healing and hope from a deep well within your soul as one who “has been there”! I love you so very much, precious sister❣️
Love you, sis, to the moon & back! Thank you for being there for me – at the police station, rescuing me from C’ville to Willsb, thru the initial healing during that semester out.. for being the love of Jesus to your sis in so many ways!!! 💜✨💜🌙💜✨💜
Thank you for sharing and giving words to those who have lost words and still fear sharing. You are a sister to all of us. While I never been there as you have, I have had my own #MeToo as a young girl. It took me over 50 years to speak and I did on Taking Back the Night at our campus. It was healing – and so are your words. Thank you thank you. peace and love, Sue
Sue, you are not alone – we are not alone – and what a blessing to have each other walking together along the path of healing & compassionate commiseration. You inspire me so much with the courageous way you are fighting cancer – not letting it take your joy or diminish your faith in any way. Blessings & hugs! 💜🤗💜🌷💜🤗💜
Heartfelt post! My ❤goes out to you. Garfield hugs🤗🤗❤You are brave indeed.
Garfield Hug – commenting on your blog the other day helped my courage muscles a bit. I have been in some pretty scary conflict zones, but I had my Teddy Bear with me to help in the courage dept (whilst stuffed Garfield remained safely @ home. He was a little too fat to stow away in my suitcase!) Hugs back to you! 💜🌷🤗🌷💜
🐨Teddy is good to keep you snuggly safe. True that for Garfield though mine is pretty flat after all that hugging 😂😂. Please be wary of your surroundings and take care ok. Garfield and I will remember you in our prayer for safety for you always. 💕💕🐾🐾😊
“Life is a gift, but sometimes it’s hard to receive when it comes in wrapping paper of suffering.” Bless the Lord, Who gives you such words of life to share! Thank you, dear friend.
Kay, your encouragement means loads. Thank you! As we’ve just passed our 30th UVA reunion (& 34th high school one?) isn’t it amazing just how amazing God’s grace is? Blessings & hugs & much, much love!! 💜🤗🌷🤗🌷🤗💜
You have a courage I aspire to.
Monica, thank you for your affirming encouragement that means loads. 💜 Your courage to live your faith @ W&M & wherever God takes you inspires me! hugs!!! ✨💜🤗💜✨
Ah, Lord Byron, I love it. I am part of the “Me too” group. For women this is a great step forward. Though it is not exactly a new idea I think it is good we can use social media to get our voices heard. I think the fact that women are going to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia is also a great step forward for women. Women have been kept down in more ways than one for way too long.
Elva, the fact that we can raise our voices together, to be heard, maybe attitudes will finally change – in us empowered to say ‘this is NOT OK!’ – and in our society to make equal rights for all (EVERYONE) the norm. For many girls around the world with limited access to education & basic rights, we still have a long way to go! Love & hugs to you. 💜✨🤗✨💜
Thankfully I have not been abused … but as a young woman I remember being stalked for a short time. That in itself was unnerving but it didn’t go on too long so nothing was done.
From all that I’ve seen/read/ heard about many women did/do feel somehow they’re to blame at least for some of it… or ‘will be’ blamed if they say or report it. Still many others somehow feel that if they did say something it would be crushing to them personally and for their jobs… and so decline to do something because of that.
It’s so out in the open even more now, that perhaps all this publicity and acknowledgements from so many high profile women; will help women in the future and give them the strength to not allow it in their lives. Diane
Diane, that’s the point of raising our voices – to get rid of oppressive silence that feeds debilitating fear & allows cycles of abuse & violence to continue. As women realize we’re not alone, it helps our courage muscles to speak up & find strength together to fight against abusers & offenders in our society. Blessings & hugs! 💜🤗💜🙏💜🤗💜
dear friend-you are courage walking. To use your suffering to help others, is so admirable.
Thank you, Michele. “Courage walking” – love it! What we all aspire to be, whatever challenges we face. You, too, are courage walking to have raised your children after your husband’s young passing – & as a conduit of joy thru your Rabbit Patch (& Cottage-patch-to-be…) Much love & hugs!
courage does not mean alack of fear but going on as if best you can, in spite of it. Gosh i have been scared before-but not so much now as in my youth. Thank you dear-and Godspeed! love Michele
Virginia, I’m sorry to hear this happened to you but am encouraged by your brave response. Keep on fighting all the evil and garbage in this world with love and compassion. I’m always encouraged by your spirit. God bless!
John, sometimes our valleys are ‘I can’t but God can’ Four Spiritual Secrets schools where we learn our total dependence on God, for everything? Papa modeled those secrets for us, but during challenging times in my life they moved from my head to my heart. Christ is the vine, we are the branches! Much love!! 💜🌷✨💜✨🌷💜
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Hi, I liked your post. Thank you for sharing. I’ve just started sharing my story. I hope you’ll take a look. beingraped.wordpress.com
JG – healing is a hard, long journey as you know, but there is hope & help by speaking out. Thank you for your courage to share your story. Stay strong & don’t let your heart’s scars suffocate God’s love that’s there for you – even in your pain. Blogging hugs – Virginia
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