I’m Tired Of Saying “Me Too”: Here's How We All Can Help End Sexual Assault
Tweeting #MeToo isn't enough; the onus for change cannot solely be placed on victims.
I am tired of saying, "Me too."
I am tired of myself and fellow survivors retraumatizing ourselves in order to bring validation to our very real experiences. Most of all, I am tired of the onus for change always being placed on victims — and on women — instead of addressing the men who are most often the perpetrators of sexual violence against them.
Eradicating sexual assault will never be achieved by survivors alone — because they aren't the ones who cause it in the first place.
If you're a survivor who has been brave enough to come forward with your stories only to be manipulated, bullied, or victim-blamed into feeling like your assault was in any way your fault or preventable, it was not. There is no excuse for the behavior of abusers.
It's not your clothing.
It's not your sexuality.
It's not your feminism.
It's not your education.
It's your assailant.
And for that very reason, it will take a lot more than the 6 million + brave people's #MeToo stories to stop rape culture.
While participating in the viral #MeToo campaign is an inspirational way to spread awareness, support, empowerment, and solidarity, a hashtag alone will not end a widespread societal problem.
Any movement — no matter how significant — will be quickly forgotten if no other measures are taken to reinforce its message.
Here are 7 ways we all can step up and actively end rape culture and prevent sexual assault in our communities:
1. Add Your Voice To The #MeToo Campaign
Lending your voice to any movement is the first step in the right direction. If you feel comfortable enough to share your stories, feel free to come forward on any social platform of your choosing. If you are not comfortable sharing your own #MeToo, know that you do not owe anyone your story.
If you do not want to share your own experience or if you do not have an experience to share, show your solidarity by responding to your friends' and family members' #MeToo posts with a simple, "I believe you," or how the movement has been a wake-up call to you.
2. Request Anti-Harassment Training & Prevention At Work, School, Etc.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — and it protects men, women, and gender non-binary individuals equally. Ask your manager to require anti-harassment training for every manager and employee. Go a step further and also request it for your schools, religious groups, and other organizations you belong to.
If you're in school, you should also study up on your rights under Title IX. Administrators are required to investigate any complaint and protect you from a hostile educational environment.
3. Intervene To End Street Harassment
All too often, public spaces are risky environments — especially for women. If you witness public harassment going on, you have a role to play in preventing things from escalating. If you feel safe enough to do so, step in when you see a bystander in a bad situation and ask the target if they are alright. If you don't feel comfortable enough to do so, you can create a distraction by asking the perpetrator for directions or spilling a drink at the bar so the target has an opportunity to get away. Lastly, you can call the #StreetHarassment Hotline or 911.
4. Get Involved Locally
There are so many ways you can help out in your community, including volunteering for your local rape crisis center, donating clothes for survivors who often surrender their clothing to be tested for DNA, and donating money to anti-sexual assault groups and services like No More and RAINN.
5. Call Your Senators And Representative
It is up to us to let Congress know that we support our tax dollars going to sexual assault causes.
Call your senators and representative and tell them you support the proposed 2018 $5 million budget increase for the CDC's Rape Prevention and Education Program. Also tell them you do not support the Trump Administration's rollbacks on Title IX that make it more difficult for victims of sexual assault on campus to seek justice.
6. Monitor Your Own Sexual Behavior
Consent isn't just sexy ; it's mandatory. Make sure that you go the extra mile to ensure your sexual partner(s) are comfortable and in control of saying no at any time before or during sexual activity.
7. Be An Ally To Survivors
Chances are most people know someone or will know someone who experiences sexual assault. Organizations like RAINN offer free advice on how to listen without judgement and be there when someone experiences trauma.
Offer to go along with a victim for medical care, speak up when you hear someone's comments making light of rape, and always have the courage to intervene when you see something that doesn't seem right.
We can't expect to end rape culture on the backs of survivors alone anymore.