Please Note: Winter Blooms is an educational website in no way meant to replace building a relationship with an accredited EFT practitioner, counselor, or therapist. To learn more about EFT, visit the AAMET website at www.aamet.org, or contact Jane for EFT coaching support.
In the aftermath of Harvey Weinstein sexual predation revelations, hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women, are participating in the #MeToo movement to increase solidarity among the victims of unwanted sexual advances and violent sexual assault. We are millions, we are global, and we have been, until now, largely unheard. Why?
The Blame-Shame Nature of Sexual Assault in a Male-Dominated Culture
“It must be my fault.” So goes the thinking of girls and women who believe the cultural propaganda aimed at diminishing human rights, freedoms, and responsibilities along gender lines. The Keepers, a documentary series currently airing on Netflix, covers the painful reality of victims who come forward to demand justice after years of sexual violation at the hands of their priest/counselor. Watching this documentary is not easy, but it is helpful in learning how to create communities of truth and advocacy to change power imbalances.
The young sixties and seventies school-girl victims profiled in this series, now mature women, find their voices in The Keepers. only after decades of torturing self doubt regarding what really happened to them To a woman, they speak of how impossible it was for them to believe that their priest – God’s unimpeachable representative on earth – would lie to them, violate their innocence, and ravage their flesh to indulge in pedophilia perversions. It is only when these victims are much older and feel safe enough to remember what has been taken from them by people in positions of power and trust that they can come together to publicly charge their perpetrators and seek justice.
Far from finding support from police and the justice system, they find instead the closed ranks of institutionalized professionals who believe overtly or covertly two horrific lies. The first is that young girls are unreliable witnesses on their own behalf. The second is that these girls are mere objects existing for the personal gratification of their perpetrators.
Protecting Perpetrators / Those ‘Ordinary Guys’ Down the Street
Why does it feel safe enough to hold Harvey Weinstein accountable, but overlook or cover-up the illegal behaviours of local priests, teachers, coaches, police officers, doctors, and others in positions of power? He’s such a nice guy, we tell ourselves and one another, I just can’t see him doing anything like that. The girls must be mistaken, or mentally ill, or ‘wanted it’, or out to do malicious harm. How many times have we heard the slur, “You know how vicious girls can be”?
It’s easy to project our outrage regarding sexual predators onto a man we’re never likely to meet, to freely condemn Hollywood and media moguls while allowing the ‘nice guys’ in our communities to go unchallenged. And so the perpetrators we know but don’t want to believe are predators remain in our communities long after their first victims tell a friend, family member, or even people in positions of authority. More often than not, these ‘nice guys’ are protected by a reigning elite who use institutional wealth and influence to protect perpetrators while their victims are left without the emotional, physical, and spiritual healing that comes with being taken seriously and witnessing the judicial system hold the perpetrators accountable for the harm they have caused. In too many cases, sexual predators are protected by a swift move to another work site or a stint in a facility disguising ineffectual predatory treatment as a “rest cure” should the rumours about them be investigated.
Working Together on Behalf of All Victims
Creating safe places for all victims to speak of predatory behaviours poisoning our work places, educational institutions, judicial systems, spiritual traditions, and homes has evolved as our right – thanks largely to the feminist and civil rights movements – during the last forty or so years. But we have so much farther to go. College campuses remain unsafe, elementary and high schools remain unsafe, religious institutions remain unsafe, homes remain unsafe, and even the sacred halls of justice remain unsafe for as long as we fail to identify sexual predation and hold accountable its perpetrators.
Victims who find a safe place to speak of the traumatic legacy of sexual assault find healing, because naming the crimes against us validates the rights of the self to exist autonomously and well beyond the perverse pleasure of individuals with too much power, too little empathy. and no moral compass or self knowledge. Every single #Me-Too participant is doing her and his part to hold perpetrators accountable for the injuries they cause. In supporting the violated self publicly, and with tenderness, we make the world a more just place for everyone.
Men Supporting Men
While we all have a duty to get to the root of the hyper-masculine posturing that supports sexual predators, it is men holding men accountable that will make the greatest difference. DVDs such as The Mask You Live In help young boys and their older brothers, fathers, and grandfathers to see the alternatives to cruelty and posturing in a male dominated world (see the website http://therepresentationproject.org/film/the-mask-you-live-in/ for more information.) Creating safe spaces in which to discuss cultural distortions in the thinking of boys and men and all who do not challenge these distortions, supports everyone’s ability to create meaningful relationships that shift cultural norms.
Even with private and public support, it takes courage to face down the current cultural norm of hyper-masculine behaviour, but we can succeed when we work together. One way is to protest television and film brutality currently produced as a cynical money grab. Another is to advocate for stories about real boys who mature into decent, fair men. The very best solution is to tell stories of local citizens who resist the pressure to become caricatures of masculinity.
Sexual trauma is now so commonplace that almost every North American community can point to its sexual-assault centers, its victims-of-violence programs, and its trauma counseling services. Finding others who are working through the pain of violation is profoundly healing. Honing leadership skills to speak publicly against violence perpetrated against the young, the vulnerable, and the hidden members of our culture is a meaningful, richly rewarding life path. And learning self-regulation practices such as EFT to lovingly diffuse the emotional bombs threatening our peace after sexual violation is a giant step toward post traumatic growth and the vital resilience we need to enrich our own lives and contribute to our communities.
Resilience building after sexual trauma is as much a right as our right to be believed when we speak truth to power. As we participate in the #MeToo movement, we are claiming this right. More power to us!
Until next time
Jane Buchan, MA Accredited, Certified Trainer NQT
Jane is a writer and wellness coach specializing in neutralizing the long-term effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) as well as the cultural limitations that interfere with our ability to imagine, create, and live the lives we desire. To engage her individual or group coaching services, please contact Jane by phone (802) 533-9277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with Coaching Query in the subject line.