These two words are becoming increasingly familiar as more and more women are coming forward with reports of being sexually assaulted and harassed by males in entertainment, political, athletic, and educational positions. The prevalence of these incidents is alarming.
A 2017 survey found 81 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment. Apparently we are not witnessing a rise in the occurrence of abuse—rather we are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of women willing to share their experiences. The #MeToo movement on social media has prompted a national and global discussion.
The effects of harassment are widespread: shame, self-blame, depression, anxiety, a lessening of career opportunities, loss of income, and a deleterious impact on intimate personal relationships. In some situations, repression or denial of the abuse may constitute the first hurdle to be overcome.
In my own life, conscious awareness of the sexual abuse inflicted on me during childhood did not emerge until I was in my early sixties. During a hypnotherapy session, I experienced being in the home my mother grew up in. To my surprise, an elephant was trying to climb from the basement to the main floor. When the hypnotherapist and I discussed this, I remarked on the common expression of an elephant in the room—that is, the huge thing everyone ignores. Further exploration helped me identify the “elephant” in my past as both the dysfunctional relationship I had with my mother as well as being sexually abused by a male. I am indeed a “ME TOO” female.
As many readers know, such realizations may break through in a specific, sudden moment that can significantly challenge one’s self-image and worldview. Dealing with such truths often absorbs a great deal of subsequent time and emotional struggle—yet choosing truth over denial can be empowering. In my case I pursued a long course of psychotherapy that included eventually confronting my abuser. He said he didn’t remember harming me, yet he didn’t deny it either. Speaking my truth was not easy, but it freed me and resulted in a different and more accepting relationship between him and me, for which I am grateful.
Hopefully, as more and more females come forward with abuse experiences they will participate in modalities that heal such profound wounds. Have you had experiences of being harassed and abused? If so, comments about how this was or was not addressed would be much appreciated.