Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Me Too" - What Victims Want You To Know...And Do

Once again the news has broken exposing a famous individual as a chronic sexual abuser and violator of women. As the number of victims continues to rise, a collective compassionate response has also taken hold.  A movement  - "Me Too" - has gone viral with females from all walks of life courageously coming forward with their disclosures of  victimization from sexual harassment and assault. 

As an advocate of victims of any kind of abuse or trauma including sexual abuse, domestic violence, bullying/cyber bullying and as a victim myself, I am encouraged by the outpouring of support. At the same time, it is important to remind ourselves how we have arrived at a place in our culture where sexual harassment and assault is pandemic, not only for females but also for males. Although I will provide you with additional readings and resources at the end of the blog,  today I want to address...

 "Me Too" - What Victims Want You To Know...And Do



What victims want you to  know.

First,  victims are hesitant  to disclose or afraid to report their abuse or assault because they believe that they will not be believed or taken seriously.

Many times, it is a victim's word against the alleged perpetrator's word. It is a battle of "he said...she said." Depending on the role, status, or power a perpetrator holds within a family, institution, or organization, the victim's word may carry little or no weight; and in fact, it may be seen as a "threat" to the system. Therefore, many victims knowing they won't be believed or taken seriously, choose to remain quiet.


Secondly, victims are hesitant to disclose or afraid to report their abuse or assault because even if they are believed,  their experience has taught them that no one will do anything about it. 

In many cases because the pattern of abuse and harassment has become such a part of the culture of the system or organization, it is considered "normative" behavior. Thus, when a victim speaks up, the violation is dismissed, minimized, or ignored. In some instances, there is protocol  in place to address inappropriate or illegal actions, but there is little to no effective accountability. Tragically, in environments of chronic harassment and abuse, victims who disclose or report are often blamed.

Thirdly,  victims are hesitant to disclose or afraid to report their abuse or assault because they fear retaliation.

Typically, perpetrators are in a position of authority and power over the victim. Whether the violator is a  parent, relative, employer, person of faith, teacher, coach, ranking officer, upper class-man, etc., the power differential itself serves a blanket of protection for the perpetrator and provides further ammunition to effectuate their abusive agendas. Out of fear for their lives, for their loved ones dependent upon them, and for their livelihoods, victims suffer in secrecy, shame, and silence.

In addition, when victims do disclose or report their abuse or assault, they risk being re-victimized and re-traumatized. 

This is very important.

Whether the perpetrator is offending within a family, a college or university, a place of worship, a movie or TV production company, a branch of the military, or any institution/ organization where there is money, reputation, a brand, and/or an image at risk, that "system" will protect its own. 

Let me say that again.

Whether the perpetrator is offending within a family, a college or university, a place of worship, a movie or TV production company, a branch of the military, or any institution/ organization where there is money, reputation, a brand and/or an image at risk, that "system" will protect its own. 

We have witnessed this time and time again as we hear about cover-ups, pay-outs, and deals made "behind closed doors" as victims' silence is bought off. Other times, many victims courageously move through their legal course of action. As their character is scrutinized or past history is put on trial, they are re-victimized and re-traumatized in the process. To make matters more horrific, bystanders, loyal friends, or subordinates of the perpetrator often rally in support of the abuser safeguarding their own positions and protecting themselves against becoming objects of retaliation.  As alliances form and solidify around the violator, victims are made out to be the "villains."


Understanding what victims are up against,  it is critical that you know exactly what victims want you to do.
  • Believe them. 
  • Stand with them. 
  • Offer to seek out help and resources with them. 
  • Whenever possible, intervene. 
  • Notify authorities you can trust. 
  • When you see or become aware of bullying, cyber bullying, harassment,  hazing, or any kind of violence or degradation of another human being, do not remain silent. Silence is being complicit. Become a part of the solution.
Every day, brave victims are continuing to post "Me Too" on their social networking sites. Even though others are responding by"liking" and showing their support through the various emojis, that is a start. But it is not enough.  

Victims need you to take action!  

Show them..." I Am With You!"








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