Navigating #MeToo in a Not-So-IRL World
With the rise of #MeToo and #BelieveSurvivors, conversations about sexual assault have gone from being taboo to having a place in everyday discourse. If you’re not yet involved in these conversations and you’d like to be, it can be tricky to take the first step. To help, we’ve put together a list of steps to inform fair and compassionate involvement with movements like #MeToo and #BelieveSurvivors.
Check Your Motives
As you begin to engage with movements such as #MeToo or #BelieveSurvivors, it’s important that you ask yourself why you’re getting involved. The goal when interacting with these stories should never be to draw attention to yourself as doing so distracts from hearing and helping those involved.
As you scroll through social media and see posts with #MeToo or #BelieveSurvivors hashtags, remember that these stories are personal and can be painful. Remember that others’ trauma doesn’t exist for your personal entertainment or general consumption. There’s no shame in enjoying a little bit of drama and gossip, but this isn’t the appropriate place to get your fill.
Ask yourself: Why am I joining this conversation? Am I keeping in mind that there’s a real person behind this Twitter handle?
One of the best things you can do when you come across a #MeToo or #BelieveSurvivors post is listen.
Sexual assault is a difficult topic, and it can take years before someone is comfortable discussing their experience in public. Being quick to listen and slow to respond gives the survivor the space they need to ease into sharing their story.
While the #MeToo movement focuses on the accuser, it is also important that we listen to the accused. At the end of the day, we are not the judge, the jury, nor the executioner. Through actively choosing to listen to all parties involved, we cultivate a space that dismantles the taboo nature of sexual assault and allows people to come forward with their truth in order to receive the justice they deserve.
Ask yourself: Am I listening to multiple sides of this story? Who am I giving the benefit of the doubt? Is it my place to judge this person?
React With Sincerity
If you feel compelled to speak out, start by making sure that whatever you have to say keeps the attention on uncovering the truth and pursuing justice. Decide whether you want to respond publicly or privately, and choose your words carefully. Remember that ad hominem attacks rarely help the situation. No matter how angry you are, it is not your role or your place to dole out punishment.
If someone else’s response rubs you the wrong way and you feel the need to confront them, consider sending them a private message rather than having it out in the comments. Before you write or send your message, take some time away from the internet. Think about why you want to respond and whether or not your response will actually move the conversation forward. If you decide to respond, treat the other person with respect, and engage with them in hopes of reaching a common goal.
Take this moment to be genuine rather than hiding behind digital anonymity. Imagine what these interactions would be like if they were taking place in real life, and go from there.
Ask yourself: Am I being sincere? Do I need to respond publicly? Would I say this IRL?
If you would like to do more to help survivors of sexual assault, below is a list of national organizations that work to educate and inform the public as well as provide assistance to those affected.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network)
The nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, RAINN is responsible for the creation and operation of the National Sexual Assault Hotline.
One of the largest coalitions of nonprofits, corporations, government agencies, media, schools and individuals addressing domestic violence and sexual assault.
NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center)
The leading nonprofit providing tools to respond to and prevent sexual violence.
NAESV (National Alliance to End Sexual Violence)
A team of experts and advocates who publish written analysis, track legislation, provide media interviews, and advise members of Congress and the executive branch in order to end sexual violence.
Know Your IX
A youth-led project that empowers students to end sexual and dating violence in their schools.
Provides resources and care for victims of sexual violence.
A freelance illustrator and graphic designer who was born and raised in rural Colorado. Movie buff, climber, gamer, she also bakes a killer flourless chocolate cake. Passionate about human rights and not entirely sure why so much of her wardrobe is black, she’s always up for a good discussion and loves hearing people talk about their passions and interests.