More and more women are posting the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. The number of women admitting they have undergone sexual abuse or harassment is disconcerting. On the positive side, we are no longer standing alone and together we are shedding light on the enormity of the situation.
For those of us now banding together by claiming the abuse, we feel pain for one another. We feel the shared shame of hiding this secret. We also feel stronger in knowing we are not walking alone anymore. We now know who we can turn to and that we will believed and understood by someone.
The question I keep hearing is: “why isn’t she naming him?”
There are as many answers as there are examples of the kind of abuse.
- We don’t think we will be believed.
- Too much time has passed and we don’t think we will be believed.
- The person is still in power – and may have control over our livelihood, and we don’t think we will be believed.
- Others think we are exaggerating our inner pain and the long-term effects and we won’t be believed.
We won’t be believed.
It hangs over us even as we boldly claim #metoo.
And then there is the internal turmoil. Personally, the last person who did this to me drove me to the brink of crazy as I had a mental breakdown and left my career to escape. He is a man in a senior position. He hounded me, he undermined me, and even as I was in a treatment center, he begged me not to tell his wife and to continue a “friend” relationship. It wasn’t his first time and I don’t know if it will be the last. He is a man in leadership in his church. He is a “good family man.” His wife is lovely- she knows about a previous ‘indiscretion.’ His kids adore him. People would be shocked.
And I do everything I can to avoid running into him. I have left Christian groups when I know he will show up. I am afraid that he will find where I live and sit outside my house like he used to- “just to be close to me.” He still has control over my life in that respect and even as I write this, I am shaking and I feel sick inside.
We don’t name names because we want to protect ourselves and be over it. Yes, we should want to protect other women but mostly we want our lives back. I could name him, and the others; however, they already took part of my life from me and I won’t let them have another piece of it. At least not today….
For me- I know it would ruin his wife. She has her suspicions- she always will. I just can’t bring myself to destroy her life. I don’t want to inflict that pain on her. And I don’t want people talking about me, blaming me as often happens in these instances.
Maybe our reasons for not naming names appears selfish. But we have earned the right to be a little selfish and take care of ourselves. It is hard enough to say “Me Too” and maybe in time we will find the courage to say “it was xxx.” Today is not that day. Give us time to heal from our openness first. AND WHEN WE DO SHARE NAMES; don’t make it worse by saying you just can’t believe us.