I'm No Longer Ashamed to Say "#MeToo"

   At this point in time, we ALL know what the #MeToo movement is about.. We likely know someone that's had something to declare as a result of it, or in the very least, we've come to understand more about the issues behind it thanks to the exposure it's provided. If there's one thing that's underlined a lot of what I share here in this blog (including how I operate my thought processes and belief system), it's the fact that I'm a big "anti-trend" person. With the exception of cute animal videos and just genuinely heart-warming moments, I'm an old soul that gets deterred by anything that's trendy or viral. Generally speaking: I like to lead, not follow.

   Even when it comes to my spirituality and healing journey, I sought the guidance and direction of mentors... but I've always remained someone that sticks to absorbing information, researching it further, processing it, THEN determining what it means to me and what I actually believe. So when the #MeToo movement began, I immediately retracted upon wondering if some people were using it for the wrong reason... but since I am a victim of childhood sexual abuse myself, I have come to have a whole new understanding and appreciation for it...

   It's a touchy topic because the sad reality is that there are still people among us who choose to believe that a woman's place is to obey or that women could've/should've done something differently... totally negating the fact that sexual abuse includes the fact that victims are very often physically and/or mentally overpowered by their abuser. I, for one, found myself in that very violating situation because my abuser had previously groomed me to not question such attention; and even when I did, I was forced to sweep it under the rug because I still had to live under their roof. But instead of focusing on the anger-inducing truths we've all had to deal with in response to these revelations, I want to get real about how I came to realize how damn important this movement was. In order to give you a clear picture of my journey in trying to get justice, I first need to backtrack to give some facts...

This carefree spirit and personal joy wasn't a part of my equation for a long time...
It took me almost 20 years to speak my truth, and even then..
almost every person that believed me also talked me out of getting justice.

   It was something I never had the courage to share before, and it took me a good 20 years to finally say it out loud for the first time... At the age of 12, I was molested by an adult family member. The circumstances surrounding it (the abuser had groomed me in such a way that I didn't question the situation until it was too late, among other factors) meant that I never felt safe enough to tell anybody. I struggled on so many different levels because of it, and quickly became highly depressed and suicidal.. yet because I was stuck living under the same roof as this person, my ONLY goal was just to survive until adulthood and get the f#ck away. I buried it deep down inside, and even denied it when - in my mid-20s - I connected with a cousin who accused the same person of doing the exact same thing to her! And that was all that was needed to get me thinking about it again.. because even though it was a big secret, it's a memory that's played over and over again in my mind since the day it happened.

   There was a part of me that had been hesitant to see it for the crime it was because it meant that I had to put a family member on the stand. But there was also a part of me - the one who succumbed to the emotions of the memory as it played over and over - that was seeing red on a daily basis, and it was for this reason that I knew it had to be called what it actually was. When you're in this position, it's harder to speak out about it because you know it's going to be you against the army on the other person's side; which in this case, was my family. It's entirely possible that I intuitively knew there would be consequences to speaking to family about it back then, as (low and behold) my cousin was labelled a liar by the whole extended family for having immediately reported her molestation; and of course, I didn't find out ANY of this until we connected in our 20s. So what else can you do when you're in this situation?!? Queue the thoughts, reasons, and self-sabotage victims are pushed into that make them believe 1) that it's their fault, 2) that it's not criminal, and 3) that no one will believe them.

None of it was your fault though! In these childhood situations, we're often told it's "normal"
and the conversation gets turned back onto us for trying to point out problems.

   This was why the first person I told was my therapist. Immediately following the session, she asked me if I'd be willing to go to the police.. which was a huge bomb at the time. Telling just ONE PERSON is nerve-wracking because you can't help but feel judged -- in a way that you expect the other person to never look at you the same again. We just expect that when we finally start to speak up! So it took months of me going within in a form of self-isolation to finally reach out to my next step, which was the local Victim Services unit. Despite consulting my case and stating there were several charges I could pursue in court, the counsellor did her best to talk me out of it upon their recognition that I had healed and was ready to just move on. I reluctantly agreed, but months after that process, I was still angry... the righteous part of me wanted to see justice.

   Almost 4 years after I first told someone about it, I finally made the appointment to sit with the police. I have to say I'm lucky in that all the detectives I dealt with were nice, supportive, and easy to talk to... but I've heard that sometimes, this isn't the case; which can turn it into a nightmare (and deterrent for pursuing rightful charges). After our meeting, taking an hour-long recorded statement, and further consulting, they said they'd follow up for the next step. Problem #1 in that process: It was close to 8 months later that I finally heard back! But then came Problem #2: which was that it would only dig a hole in MY pocket to pursue charges. We'd spend the next few years attending court dates, and even though the police completely believed me.. they were familiar with the situation and "excuses" that would be presented for it, and more often than not - no charges are laid. To be told all of that in the same conversation was enough to re-victimize me briefly... and the sad reality is that would be tenfold taking it to court. 

Through trial and error, I realized the core focus for victims is actually just recovery!
That's why I didn't get anything achieved with Victim Services,
and why police told me I'm better off just moving on.

   This led me to understand exactly why a lot of these crimes go unnoticed and unreported. Even though I had the appropriate conversations to go in saying "look, I've got another victim willing to testify as well", I was told it wasn't worth pursuing. All that remains is the accusation on his record, which I can push forward at any time if I do decide I want to do the years-long court battle. How bad is any system where it's own officers admit 'it sucks' and that I would be better off just moving away and moving on? The more I talked to people about it though, the more common I found it to have occurred which just made me sad. No wonder we have people speaking out in ways such as seen in the #MeToo movement! For us, this is the only way to share our truth and educate those that still aren't ready to speak up. 

   I have to admit that I went from feeling like this movement got started either for the wrong reasons or by the wrong people, to fully embracing the purpose and power within it. Whereas old me probably would've rolled my eyes and avoided the subject, new me has already had to refrain from punching a friend that laughed about it (and it no doubt destroyed our relationship). It's a long road to recovery and finding your own way to move on - which is why I now offer Trauma Healing programs - is made harder by pinning us up against a pack of hungry wolves if we take the route we know it needs to go. Be kind to anyone who's had something to say, and if you're in the one in the shoes of a victim -- know that you're definitely not alone and that you can find ways to reclaim your body and your life! It begins by speaking up and ends by removing the unhealthy attachments, relationships, and triggers that keep victimizing you.

Ashley Tilson is a Master Intuitive and multi-modality Healer specializing in trauma recovery, and welcoming all sensitive souls with spiritual curiosities. She offers private sessions, spiritual spa packages, Trauma Healing programs, self-empowerment workshops & training programs, and crafted goods online.
Check out her 
website for more info!

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