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#MeToo: Now What?

By Evy Yeager
December 8, 2017

The following is a speech for the #MeToo rally on December 9, 2017, hosted by NOW NYC.

#MeToo: Now What?

The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations are too terrible to utter aloud. Atrocities, however, refuse to be buried.” These are the words of Judith Herman, pioneer of trauma research and one of the first voices that made me feel seen and heard when I felt myself disappearing.

My abuser was hurting women and girls in my family and community since before I was born. I was sexually abused even before I was forming memories. It brought a horrifying feeling of the inevitable — the girls and women before me said #MeToo in their own ways, but nothing changed. I took my place among them.  When it’s happening to everyone around you, how do you convince someone that it must end here? How do you convince yourself that it’s even possible?

In 2011 I moved to New York City and went to Safe Horizon, the nation’s largest victim services agency. They guided me through the legal process, supported me with expert trauma therapy, and never let me feel alone. I now have the honor of working for Safe Horizon as part of the Communications Team, and am part of our Speakers Bureau of former clients who advocate for the rights of survivors. In this and many other ways, I am incredibly fortunate. Each year Safe Horizon touches the lives of over 250,000 survivors of violence, crime, and abuse offering counseling and essential advocacy. We operate 24-hour hotlines to offer support, information, and expertise. Whether you are in crisis or you are unsure if your experience constitutes crime or abuse, Safe Horizon is here for you.

I think we all have stories of the negative responses we’ve gotten when we’ve said “Me, too.” Each one piles on top of us, and makes it a little harder to climb out from under the debris. But the good ones lighten the load. For everyone here who has said #MeToo and been met with doubt, blame, or other forms of rejection– know that you will also find people who will believe and support you. Some of them are standing next to you today.

We should honor these hard-won victories, but also not congratulate ourselves too soon. There is so much left to do. People are saying that the movement is not over until we include women of color, or until we talk about LGBTQ assaults, and so on. Let’s be very clear: until we include everyone equitably, #MeToo has not truly begun. It is possible to be victimized and still have privileges that others lack: the privilege to be heard, to be believed, to be supported, and to be valued. The voices we can barely hear right now are the ones we need to listen to the most.

Sexual assault doesn’t discriminate and neither should we. #MeToo has to include women of color, immigrants, LGBTQ, people living with disabilities, children and teenagers, the elderly, and yes, men and boys.

We owe the success of this movement to Tarana Burke for starting this conversation, to the survivors who are talking, and to everyone who is listening. Thank you to the survivors who can’t share their stories, or are choosing not to, who are celebrating this movement in their own quiet way. We see you, too.

Thank you to Safe Horizon for supporting me and allowing me to join you in supporting others. Thank you NOW-NYC and my fellow speakers for their leadership and advocacy, and to you all for your fierce courage and truth-telling. There is only one way forward: Refuse to let ourselves, or each other, be buried.

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