BROOKLYN, New York. When the actress Alyssa Milano asked women on the internet to respond with the hashtag #metoo if they had been sexually assaulted or harassed, it opened the floodgates. Tens of thousands of women responded with the hashtag, raising awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment. According to Health.com, the most recent report indicates that as many as half a million women have used the hashtag. Some men expressed shock when they discovered how many women they knew had been personally impacted by sexual assault and harassment. According to the New York Times, some women used the opportunity to highlight additional wounds the harassment brought. One woman wrote that she was blamed for it and that she was told not to talk about it. Other women used the moment to share that they had experienced harassment more than once.
It is important to note that not all women who have been sexually assaulted and harassed are choosing to post #metoo. For many women, this kind of disclosure is not only discouraged, but could be outright dangerous, especially if the woman is in an abusive relationship. The increased awareness might open up channels of communication for women who have suffered domestic violence. However, it is also important to consider the ways in which the #metoo movement can be triggering for survivors.
For those who have experienced traumatizing sexual assaults, seeing so many people discuss their assaults on social media can bring back painful memories. If you have suffered domestic violence, sexual assault, or harassment, it is important to consider how the #metoo movement can impact you emotionally. Disclosure is painful. One woman noted that after she posted, she felt “hollow.” Such a reaction can be normal. Disclosure can lead to anxiety, stress, and re-open old wounds. It is important to consider your own mental health before making disclosures, and if you have disclosed and are experiencing mental distress, it is important to seek help. Speak to other women who have posted. Talk to a trusted counselor. Speak to your doctor. The movement is raising awareness, sure. But the concern is that disclosure could come at a cost to women’s health. It is important to take care of yourself and to think about what you are comfortable with and not comfortable with sharing.
You are not required to share anything, after all. If you have suffered domestic violence, sexual assault, or abuse, your story is yours to share and you don’t have a responsibility to share it.
Finally, get proper help if you find yourself in a violent or unsafe relationship. There are many domestic violence resources in Brooklyn available at no or low cost. New York City also has a domestic violence hotline that offers support to women at risk or those who want to escape the cycle of violence. The Elliot Green Law Offices are domestic violence lawyers in Brooklyn, New York who work with individuals fighting to break out of a dangerous relationship. Visit our site today at https://www.elliotgreenlaw.com/ to learn more.