Take victims seriously.
The phrase “breaking the silence” is often heard when discussing the waves of victims using the #MeToo movement to finally be heard. To victims, the phrase “breaking the silence” feels like an unwelcome pat on the back. As if someone is saying, “Wow, good job for finally learning how to communicate. If only you had used a hashtag before, none of this would have happened.”
Breaking the silence implies there was silence all along. It also implies that it was the victim’s job to communicate better or people unaware of the violence all around them simply did not know of it, because no one told them.
There was never silence. Victims have been expressing themselves throughout history. #MeToo is not a triumphant announcement that some bad things have been going on and they need to stop. The step forward is not in breaking the silence, but in finally screaming loud enough that the rest of the world cannot pretend the screaming does not exist.
The most painful part of this has been to watch men come forward and say, “Wow, this is great. Now that us men know this has been going on, we can all stop. It’s now time for healing between the sexes,” as if victims just pointed a flashlight upon a great injustice lurking in the shadows that will scurry away upon noticing it has been discovered.
Violence begins with the concerns of a group not being taken seriously, but it will not end because we can now talk about it on Twitter.