The proliferation of the #MeToo movement since October 2017 has shifted our country’s consciousness regarding sexual violence, particularly around workplace assault and harassment.
The movement has allowed larger numbers of victims to feel safe and empowered to share their stories and has created a space to unlock woman’s power and voice as Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee references movements led by women in her TEDTalk. This has created a forum for all of us to engage in difficult yet honest conversations, leading to changes in our workplace cultures, our industries, and society at large This has also led to much-needed legislation.
How to Find Your #MeToo Voice
Whether you are a victim, a loved one of a victim, or simply believe you have something to say, it may be intimidating and overwhelming to find your voice on such a sensitive subject. However, in finding your voice, you may help heal your own trauma, or even help other people with theirs.
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Reflect on Your Experience
Reflecting on your experience provides the opportunity for you to not only process it, but also identify which parts of your story you believe need to be voiced. There is no right away to reflect – it can be alone by journaling or talking with a therapist or another trusted person.
Instead, what is important is for you to be able to observe your experience from a bird’s-eye view, and then narrow in on the details that impassion you to find your voice. For example, if you have witnessed a loved one’s trauma as a result of sexual violence, you might recall the first time you learned of the situation, and the ways the trauma affected them.
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Determine Your #MeToo Message
Once you reflect on your experience and identify the parts that compel you to speak, then you can determine your particular message. What did you wish you knew then that you know now? What do you think is an injustice? What is missing from the conversation that you feel strongly about? Is there something you are hearing that you think could be more effective if stated differently?
Whatever it is, determining and narrowing your message should be a source of empowerment; you get to use your voice to articulate your unique experience and contribution to the movement. Using the example above, you might suggest specific actions that victims’ friends and family can take to support them. Again, there is no right or wrong message; what matters is finding the message from your experience that empowers you to use your voice.
Find Your #MeToo Audience
Once you determine your message, consider who your audience is. It might be that it is important to find your own voice in order to help yourself through the trauma of your experience. Alternatively, you may feel compelled to protest or engage in social activism. Whoever it is, finding your audience takes your message from an idea to action.
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Who to Talk With
Depending on your experience, message, audience and comfort level, it might bring added comfort and confidence to share your message with those you trust or those who are already engaged. You can then take that message to a larger platform if you wish. Because everyone’s experience varies significantly, some of the individuals listed below may not be appropriate or relevant to your situation. However, the following are suggested as you start to articulate your message:
- Trusted family and friends
- A therapist or other mental health providers
- Current social activists in your community
In closing, finding your voice as the #MeToo movement continues can be a source of empowerment and healing, and may contribute to the shift in our country’s social consciousness. If you are looking for a local and direct voice outlet consider submitting a blog to Young Minds Advocacy Generation Bold, a local organization that speaks out about mental health advocacy. One of the movement’s most positive outcomes is the new and expansive forum for badly-needed conversations about sexual violence, and you can be part of it.
About the Author
Patty Muray is an Associate Marriage & Family Therapist at Well Clinic in San Francisco.
According to Patty, “I enjoy supporting my clients’ curiosity to explore what contributes to who they are and how they connect with the people in their lives.”