How the #BelieveSurvivors and #MeToo Movement Brought my Mother and I Closer
For the past year or so a major shift in U.S. culture has been happening. For the first time in U.S. history, the conversation around sexual assault and abuse (something that impacts around 1 in 3 women), is finally being heard, opening up and shedding a hard light (and hopefully justice) on the silent suffering women have experienced for far too long. Sexual assault, a topic that since the time of man has been silenced or left “too taboo” for daily consideration is now under the spotlight. Women, of all ages and backgrounds, are coming out together, sharing their stories with the world, both in unison and in hopes of making big changes around the way the patriarchy and U.S. government values and protects its women. For many women, the #metoo and #believesurvivors movement has been one of hurt and healing, as we recall our life experiences and traumas. Gladly and boldly so. For others, it is perhaps a chance to feel more understood and connected to our fellow women, friends, mothers, etc. In my case, it has been all three: hurting, healing, and connection.
Most recently, my mother and I attended a protest in support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (a professor testifying to Congress against then-Sen. Brad Kavanaugh, who was up for Supreme Court. She alleges he sexually assaulted her, and the entire nation of the U.S. has been torn in red and blue about whether she was lying or not. I for one believe her because no sexual assault survivor would risk their life, wellbeing, and safety to tell a lie. Most wouldn’t risk their lives, wellbeing and safety to tell the truth, including me. I’ve always been too afraid of my abuser’s repercussions. What she did was brave, and she did it to protect us from what she believed was a man unfit of taking up the highest chair in the land.) My mother and I have never protested together, and perhaps more importantly, my mother and I hadn’t ever shared with one another our stories of abuse. She’d asked me a few days prior if I wanted to go to the protest, I said “yes”, we hopped in the car with our #BelieveSurvivors sign and the quiet kicked in. There was a big elephant in the room (or car); clearly both of us were passionate about Dr.Ford’s outcomes, especially sexually assault, but why? We both knew why. The talking between us didn’t happen till after the protesting, but seeing our hands holding up our “believe us” sign together had me bawling in tears. Two generations of women, a mother and daughter, coming together for something so AWFUL and tragic but REAL. I felt, in that moment, both further and closer to my mom than I’d ever felt before. I didn’t know her full story yet but I knew something I’d never known about her in all twenty-three years of my life— that she’d been the 1 in 3 too.
How sad is it, that something so awful and wrong would make me feel connected to women and my own mother in a way I’ve never felt before? It angers, saddens, and fills my heart with a fire of inspiration and passion, to continue to raise my voice for this cause, to keep the movement moving, so to speak. The statistics say 1 in 3 will be sexually abused in their lifetimes but I think numbers slip us by and fade into normalcy, which is why the #MeToo movement and believing and standing with survivors like #DrFord is so important. It gives us all an empowered opportunity to speak our truths and demand the right for an equal voice and better tomorrow. It allows us to no longer have to uphold secrets that only hurt us but not our perpetrators.
I lost it again at the protest as I stared down onto the freeway and ocean of morning oncoming traffic, seeing all of the waving hands, hearing all of the honking salutes. I couldn’t see the drivers faces but I could only imagine what their stories were and what they’d been through. I felt proud. Proud of these humans (and you!) that continue to live their lives the best way they know how to. Proud that they would feel strong and empowered enough to roll down their car windows and voice their truths, even in honking form. I felt understood, inspired, and united to strangers I couldn’t even see in such a deep, heartbreaking, beautiful way, which is something I’ve also never felt before. It was healing. And finally, I want to thank those that have voiced their truths because they’ve allowed me and my mom and so many of you as well to validate and honor our own, empowering us all. If our current culture and government won’t change, we will change it. It shouldn’t be left up to us or people like Anita Hill or ChristineBlaseyFord, but you better bet we will.