Groping, touching, brushing, lewd comments, unwanted glances and attention is not something women have to only deal with on the street, at school/college, at their jobs or in the park. Sadly, for many of us it starts in places that are supposed to be safe havens from any harm – the home and family. There are sexual predators lurking in your home.
The recent Weinstein affair and the follow up #MeToo campaign which has became a rallying cry against sexual harassment began more than 10 years ago by activist Tarana Burke. She started the movement as she puts it — in the “deepest, darkest place in my soul.” When she listened horrified to a little girl pour out her pain of being sexually abused by her “stepdaddy”. The horror of hearing what the man was doing to this innocent child’s body was too much for Tarana. In the middle of the confession, she cut her off and directed her to another female counsellor who could “help her better.”
“I will never forget the look because I think about her all of the time. The shock of being rejected, the pain of opening a wound only to have it abruptly forced closed again – it was all on her face. And as much as I love children, as much as I cared about that child, I could not find the courage that she had found. I could not muster the energy to tell her that I understood, that I connected, that I could feel her pain. I couldn’t help her release her shame, or impress upon her that nothing that happened to her was her fault. I could not find the strength to say out loud the words that were ringing in my head over and over again as she tried to tell me what she had endured… I watched her walk away from me as she tried to recapture her secrets and tuck them back into their hiding place. I watched her put her mask back on and go back into the world like she was all alone and I couldn’t even bring myself to whisper…me too.”
Yes, a majority of us women have our #MetToos, the deep, dark, shameful place where we fester away from our sexual wounding. The assault which begins when we are inot aware of the realities of sex. When our bodies are undergoing womanly changes but our minds are still those of a child. A teenage girl’s budding sexuality being preyed upon by adults in the family who are aware of the taboo and illicitness of their actions.
It is bewildering that after being a good catholic girl, why am I being punished with by these dirty actions of these men. It feels shameful that these things are not done with anyone other than one’s husband. It is frightening that when you try and protect yourself from the sexual attacks you are branded as the instigator by the women who are supposed to understand and protect you. It is defilement of your self that someone has just touched you in your most private parts of your body while you were sleeping, when your defences were down. It fills you with anger that a woman should have the power to falsely accuse a defenceless 13 year old girl while a grandmother quietly sat on.
It fills you with confusion, your reality gets totally fucked up, that after you have been accused of seducing an Uncle, your grandmother forces you to go off with him so you will feel better. It fills you with rage that your father makes you kiss the cousin on his birthday, who he knew had sexually abused. The conflict of what was and was not, suppressed the memories of my abuse for many years. It also fucked up my chances of having normal relationships.
Sexual abuse at home, in family gatherings and social functions, church are more common than those happening at work. And when it does happen at work, usually it is more explicit and there is no obfuscation about the act and its inference.
However, when it happens is the supposedly benign place of the family it is perplexing and distressing for the victim, the perpetuator does his evil act while putting on a benevolent mask. It is the victim who is usually denounced by the family as the slut. I remember an Aunt who had married into the family complaining that the brother-in-laws were always coming close to her when speaking or making lewd comments. Even this cousin who abused me would try to touch this Aunt. It was one of the many reasons she finally gave up on the marriage, her husband would not say anything to these creeps. All predators know how to pick their prey – the voiceless and the defenceless.
Silence Isn’t Golden—It’s Red: Daleen Berry at TEDxConnecticutCollege
Yes, sexual abuse first happens in homes and families. Furthermore, when the grandmothers, mothers, and other adult women in the family do not rise up in protest, these bullies get the message, I am right and I can do what I want and can get away with it. It is the women who enable these creeps to go on a rampage. Women rise up and raise your voice against sexual abuse don’t discriminate like Meryl Streep standing in support of a pedophile
Sister of Silence: By Daleen BERRY