Forum

MeToo campaign isolates survivors who seek privacy

Credit: Lisa Qian/ Credit: Lisa Qian/
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Two weeks ago, the "#MeToo" movement began on social media. The "#MeToo" movement focuses on survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment posting the "#MeToo" hashtag. While this movement has brought awareness to the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, it alienates survivors of sexual assault who want privacy.

The movement has good intentions, and when it originally began seven years ago, it was to show solidarity with survivors. But, we seem to be forgetting that there are plenty of survivors who wish not to speak out. It is a strange feeling of alienation and support when your newsfeed is filled with survivors sharing their stories. On one hand, it feels comforting to know that there are only people in life who share your experience and understand yours. But on the other hand, it makes you feel cowardly because those sharing their stories are described as “brave” and “courageous” and you cannot imagine sharing yours.

It takes courage for someone to post about their personal experience with sexual assault, and it is amazing that there are people who are advocating to end sexual assault. But, there are plenty of survivors who choose not to share their experience. Considering two out of every three rapes are not reported to the police, most of these survivors are also going to feel uncomfortable posting about their experiences on social media. Everyone deals with trauma differently — for some people this means publicly disclosing what happened to them, for others it means only telling a therapist until it no longer hinders their day-to-day life.

Social movements cannot be successful when they rely on survivors to share their experiences. We can bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault without pressuring survivors to share their stories. It is unfair to expect survivors to share such a personal, intimate part of their lives. We can raise awareness by advocating in our local communities, encouraging consent to be taught in high school sex education classes, and encouraging survivors to seek help.

In the meantime, we need to show our solidarity with survivors without pressuring them to share their stories. Some survivors will choose to advocate for other survivors and others will choose to focus on their own lives. Both are completely okay and justified. So yes, "#MeToo" wasn’t the worst social movement in the world, but we can do better to support survivors. A simple hotline number, such as 800.656.HOPE (the number of the National Sexual Assault Hotline Telephone) included with the "#MeToo" hashtag would be viewed as an olive branch to those who do not feel comfortable sharing their stories in social media. Sexual assault affects many people from all different backgrounds, and we need to show solidarity with every survivor in order to reduce sexual violence.