#metoo The Untold Truth

Since beginning this blog, #metoo has been tweeted over 500,000 times (as of the latest number I can find), tagged in over 1,300,000 Facebook post, and Instagrammed over 400,000 times. All in the last 48 hours. It's also the subject of over 6 million conversations around the world at any one given moment. Let that sink in. That's huge. That's bigger than huge. That is how we shed international light on an issue and work towards bettering our world.

"Tweeted over 500,000 times

Tagged in over 1,300,000 Facebook post

Instagrammed over 400,000 times.

All in the last 48 hours."

Let's back up a bit though; for reference, I work for a Children's Advocacy Center. I manage the database, I know the statistics because I have to find them; I may only know details of the area that I work, but it's staggering. When I first started working here I had no idea what I was getting myself into, what the numbers were, and to be honest, when I found out, I questioned whether or not I wanted to go back to never knowing and living life blindly. It's truly petrifying and it's just the tip of the iceberg. We're only talking children here, and on top of that we're only talking about the ones who come forward and say something at some point in their life. I've known the statistics for over a year now since starting here, but my perspective has changed as names and faces replace the numbers on the screen I saw before as this #metoo has become more common. 

I struggle to write this blog because it hits so close to home, my family, my friends, my fiancé, and even myself are victims of this. I think a common misconception is that for your experience to count it has to be of the highest degree of sexual assault; I want it to be abundantly clear, this is not a competition to see who was hurt worse, or more, or by whomever. This is a boat that we are all sitting equally in. Your story is no better or worse than mine and every story is worth mentioning. That being said, let's talk about telling your story. Don't feel pressured to share if you don't want to. I think that it's a powerful thing to admit when something as negatively impacted you and see how many others out there have gone through similar experiences and you know you're not alone. If your experience is something you'd rather keep bottled up or just keep private then there is nothing wrong with that, but I would encourage you to seek some professional guidance if you haven't already. Working at an Advocacy Center, I see the impact talking to a trained professional can have (and by the way, all of our services are free). 

1 in 2 women will be sexually harassed, assaulted, or abused in their lifetime. One in Two. Do you have a daughter and a wife? What if you had to pick one to be subjected to that, that's basically the reality of the world we live in. 1 in 4 men will also be victims of sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in their lifetimes too. That group of high school or fraternity "brothers" you get together with once a year? One (or more) of them is more than likely a victim. Most of these victimizations happen to children under the age of 18, but mostly 12 and under. This is not a problem that is isolated to certain social environments, or ethnicities, or countries, cities. This happens everywhere and can happen to anyone and it happens more than anyone will ever know because it's impossible to get everyone to speak up about it.

1 in 2 women will be sexually harassed, assaulted, or abused in their lifetime. 1 in 4 men will also be victims of sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in their lifetimes too.

Knowing what we know now, how do we move forward? What is our next step? Let's break this into two groups. As men what can we do and as women what can we do. Let's tackle the male aspect first, being a male and being a victim, as well as consulting my fiancé on advice for this I feel the male part of this is easier to break down. 

Men: As men, what can we do now and in the future? STOP. There, easy, right? Problem solved! I'm only half joking here. Sure, stopping is something, but that's a little too broad for me and I'm sure any women reading this are thinking the same. Let's address what we can do now. We can support our wives, our friends, our family and encourage them to tell their story and express that no matter what happen, they have your love and your promise to stand by them. Men are suppose to be a symbol of strength, not a show of strength. We are suppose to be compassionate, not inconsiderate; suppose to be embracing, not degrading. As men, we have failed, not all in the same regard as others have but by not holding each other to a simple, higher standard and putting our foot down in the line is crossed. For all that and more, I am truly sorry.

Women, keep doing what you are doing. Support each other and share your stories. Let your voices be echoed around the world and through unity and consistency there is change. I agree that these things should never happen, but there are people in this world that will continue to push even after the line is drawn, consequences or not. For those that push, push back harder. Show them you won't be taken advantage of easily. Most people will back down from a confrontation of any kind if they know they can't win. If that means better equipping yourself physically then I would encourage you to do it! I would also encourage you to stay together in groups. Don't leave your friends behind and if you are alone, be mentally prepared on how to escape or get away if you find yourself in a position you don't feel comfortable in. Sure this all seems pretty basic, but it's the constant reminder and the morality improvement from the male counterparts that together will really make a difference for everyone. This is not just a problem for women, or for men, or for children, or for adults. This is a problem for all of us and it'll take all of us helping each other to solve it. 

If you are a victim of Sexual Assault please reach out for help. There is no shame in what happen, the person that did it is committing a crime that is punishable by jail time, there are so many communities and friends and family that want to help and offer free advice and services.

You are important, you are worth fighting for, together we can conquer this.

Matt