Suffering in Silence
I’ve been listening and watching the news a lot lately. Like many, I have been astonished at the number of accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault that have come to light. There have been countless articles, think pieces, hashtags, and opinions about who, why, and how. One question that keeps coming up is, why did these people wait so long. Why didn’t they tell about it when it happened? What are they trying to get out of this?
I’m not an expert and I haven’t talked to any of the victims or even any of my friends who shared via #MeToo. But I’d venture that the reason these people haven’t come forward “before now” is the same reason that people with mental illnesses, eating disorders, those who’ve attempted suicide, those who’ve been victims of racism and other forms of discrimination, and other taboo topics haven’t come forward is the same- the ignorance of others and the audacity of those people to judge a person’s reaction to a traumatic experience.
I think it is extremely easy to tell somewhat what they should do. I have found myself when hearing about others situations regarding marriage and child rearing saying, ‘well if that were me’ or ‘if I had gone through that I would’…when the truth is, it isn’t me. I’m not going through that situation from the same perspective as the person who is actually going through it. And even if I’ve gone through a similar situation, the tools that I have to cope and deal with it may be very different than someone else’s.
Unfortunately, social media platforms and our 24-hour news cycle have made these judgments easier to find and louder to hear. The thoughts about the how and the why that were once only discussed over the dinner table or at the beauty salon are now shared with millions of people via memes, opinion pieces, and Facebook posts. The idea that we should heal the hurts first and ask questions later has been lost on many.
The most troubling part for me is that for all of those who do come out and share their stories, many more won’t because of the fear, and I would say it’s a very real fear, that they will be judged, ridiculed or dismissed. And many will continue to suffer alone. So before you make a post, share a meme, or even try to influence a friend about who, what, when, or how, remember this: you never know what someone else is going through. You don’t know every part of their story. And that comment or post you’re making just for likes or to be controversial, is doing more harm than good.
Until next time…