How It Feels To Be A Victim Of Sexual Assault During The #MeToo Movement

How It Feels To Be A Victim Of Sexual Assault During The #MeToo Movement

Mary Katherine Backstrom

It never fails.

Every time a Bill Cosby or a Harvey Weinstein is called out for lifelong sexual abuse, there is an initial resistance to those reports.

Who can confirm the victim’s story? What was she wearing? Is she asking for money?

In the comments section of any one of these stories you will always find a male commenter saying, “He could be falsely accused. Shouldn’t we wait to hear more?”

Okay. Maybe we should wait. Or, you know…maybe not.

Because while “innocent until proven guilty” is important, these victims aren’t asking for an immediate verdict. They are asking to be heard. Validated.

And instead, they are given the patriarchal treatment, in which a victimizer is assumed innocent and the victim is assumed a liar.

I’m so over this shit.

Data supports the fact that, more likely than not, these women are telling the truth. Three out of 5 American women experience unwanted sexual contact, and chances are, if you are reading this, you are one of those women.

The odds aren’t exactly favorable.

So when #MeToo became a thing, I wasn’t shocked at all that my newsfeed was painted with stories of assault, molestation, and rape.

It triggered me. It deeply upset me. But it didn’t shock me, not even a little bit.

For years, a patriarchal culture has been silencing female victims by convincing us we are crazy, we are alone, and we are responsible.

“Not all women!” the comments sections say. When yes, people. It’s pretty much all women. Things have gotten that bad.

So when these women came out on social media to speak their truth, I knew I had to join in. Maybe this time we will be heard. Maybe this time, when our names and our faces are plastered to our truth, the men in our lives will shut up and listen.

I sat at the keyboard, and the anger and pain just poured out:

ME, TOO.

I sit here, scrolling through my newsfeed, blinking.

“Me too, me too.”

I can’t help but think:

Are we lending our faces to this awful statistic?

Or yelling in a room full of men who will miss it?

I hold my tongue, and I ball up my fist.

I’m disgusted by the very existence of this list.

It hurts to remember. This isn’t a game to me.

I am more and more triggered by every name I see.

“Is anyone listening? What’s going to change?”

I wonder, aloud, as I add my own name.

Me, too…as a child.

Me, too…as a teen.

Me, too. Me, too.

This is the life we live.

And my baby girl is awake in her crib.

I’m wondering what kind of world we can give to our kids.

If this is what it’s come to, that we all have to parade

Our pain and our shame and attach to it our NAMES?

To get everyone to listen?

THIS IS WHAT IT TAKES?

I honestly have to wonder, if it’s just…

Too damn late.

But, sure.

For those who are listening: Me, too.

Now add my name to that damning statistic.

Then take your discomfort and do something with it.”

I hit publish with shaky hands. Every time I speak life to the victimhood of my youth, it feels like opening an artery. Putting my truth out for the world to see feels like one more unwitting exposure.

No woman should ever have to say, “Me, too.” But today, all over social media, 6 MILLION have.

I knew that had to merit a response. I just wasn’t sure what it would be.

I was fearful that this was one more way my victimhood would get lost. I knew that if one single man in my newsfeed started in with doubt-casting, I was going to lose my freaking mind.

But then, like little beacons of light in the darkness, a powerful answer developed in response to our stories.

“I believe you,” one male friend said.

“I believe you,” another male family member posted.

I believe you.

This is the response every victim needs.

I believe you. 

This is what every single “Me, Too” deserves to be met with.

I believe you.

One by one, courageous women were met with the grace they damn well deserved. With each and every “I believe you,” I felt a glimmer of hope being restored within me.

If we are going to change the devastating statistics regarding sexual violence against women, two things have to happen:

One, we have to raise our voices: Me, too.

Two, we have to be heard: I believe you.

And maybe, just maybe, this movement is the beginning of that change.