The platform is changing for women when it comes to speaking up about moments in their lives when harassed, assaulted or demeaned by men they cross paths with. I’m thrilled about this, as many women across North America are, but also saddened that there are still negative repercussions that exist when women come forward on men with influence.
As someone who has experienced #MeToo moments, and spoken openly about them to friends and relatives, who are supportive, my wish is for every woman to be able to step forward in unity to gain the same support, without worrying about these negative repercussions that shouldn’t exist.
Politician and Minister Rochelle Squires, 47, is a woman who is truly inspirational, and recently made her #MeToo moment public. She spoke with the Canadian Press about her story, after decades of bottling the experience up, because she blamed herself and was fearful.
Squires was raped at 13 and felt that she could tell no one.
“In the 34 years since then, every day of my life has been a journey towards recovery; sometimes a journey back into darkness,” Squires said Tuesday in a statement, marking Sexual Assault Awareness month.
“I have gone back in my mind…hundreds of thousands of times and talked to that 13-year-old girl and said to her ‘It’s not your fault, and you’re going to be OK. I don’t need to tell that 13-year-old girl anymore, and so I want to use my voice to help others.”
Rochelle explains that she waited until she was in her 30s before she told anyone and went to the police. She also discussed it with her therapist and stated that she felt completely at fault even at such a young age. She asks herself still “Why did I feel to blame?”
Why do victims of sexual assault, harassment, abuse etc. respond, initially, similarly to Squires? Is it because of the fear that the perpetrator’s life will be ruined, or that the victim has somehow brought on the behavior?
Women self-blame because our male dominated society continually questions women; this need to change, society needs to promote, support and unite when victims do come forward.
Squires is advocating third-party reporting which allows a complainant to come forward and talk with victim support services, without having to be identified. The government programs work with women who step forward – buffering them from the often male-dominated police interactions.