During the height of the #MeToo movement, I came really close to sharing a story that could have potentially changed my life in ways I wasn’t ready for.
I had been contacted by the media, and I had two drafts of my story sitting on my laptop. Between the calls and the daily stories of Hollywood men being taken down, my anxiety was through the roof.
While I was and still am overjoyed to see this day of reckoning upon us, and to see all the brave women and men coming forward with their distressing #MeToo stories, long lost feelings of smallness from a time I had chosen to forget came rushing back.
#MeToo was forcing me to think about something I had purposely left in the past.
In the months after the New York Times outed Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator, I’d wake up each morning with a pit in my stomach, thinking about my own Hollywood sexual misconduct story and if I needed to say something. Every day my finger hovered over the publish button — I didn’t want to share my story with the media; I wanted to have control of my own story — and every day my boyfriend and a handful of patient friends listened to me as I weighed the pros and cons of coming forward.
Ultimately I decided not to publish the story for several reasons.
1. I’m very afraid of person in my #MeToo story. He has power and he prides himself on being a bully, and I have no doubt that he would threaten and intimidate me.
2. My story is complicated. I was very young, new to Los Angeles and didn’t think I could say no to someone who was in a position of power. This inner turmoil plus the emotional abuse I received led to dangerous drinking and therapist visits to deal with the pain. I’m ashamed all of this, and I know that if my story came to light complete strangers would cast judgment over me.
3. Sharing my story could cause stress to the people I care about.
4. I don’t want to think of myself as a victim. I experienced something horrible, I survived it and I moved on. I don’t want that I had fallen prey to a manipulative individual to define me.
5. I wanted to make sure that my intentions of sharing my story were right. Was I going to share because it was the hot take of fall & winter 2017? Was I going to share because I wanted to try to take this guy down? The only reason why I considered hitting the publish button was in case there were other people out there who had similar stories. I wanted them to feel less alone.
#1–4 were what kept me from releasing the story. However, #5 was something that stuck with me. As a writer, I don’t want to arrogantly believe that my words carry weight, but I thought if someone else had been subjected to demoralizing and degrading sexual experiences in Hollywood but were too afraid to come forward, maybe my story could offer them a small amount of comfort.
So that’s why I’m writing this post today. This is a shout out to the women and men in Hollywood and beyond who are terrified of naming their aggressors because they still hold power, who are afraid of what people will think of them and who just want to not think about a time that was devastating for them.
You might feel tremendous pressure to out your aggressor, but it’s ok not to. It’s ok to be conflicted with the power of the #MeToo movement.
It’s ok if you felt like you couldn’t say no to your aggressor — it’s still not your fault that this happened to you.
Your story might not be added to the long list of public #MeToos, but your pain and experience still matter.
You are a survivor, whether you believe it or not.
#2 is definitely something many of us experience. The fear of saying no and putting on our “happy”face during it all. Thank you!
Thank you for sharing this. You articulate some of the reasons I have been reluctant to share my own #metoo experience. Even though I know it has been cathartic for lots of people, for me it feels like giving that person power over me, all over again.
I shared my story and it drew hate and criticism from strangers. I felt victimized all over again. If you do choose to share, be aware that there’s a significant #metoo movement backlash from the New Misogyny. Make your sharing be about empowerment. If you think you’ll get a sympathetic ear, brace yourself for anything but.
Michelle, I’m so sorry you had to experience that. <3
Yes I’m in the same boat. But I’m not proud of it. I feel like I’m isolating the brave women who did come forward. I feel like I’m letting them down . An extra burden to carry.
Hi! I was intrigued by your title when I was on Google trying to find a way to publish my own storie(s). I’m super scared of all of the above as well but I’ m sick of seeing the same attitude over and over again!
I reported my 2011 rape by a fellow Duke student on last June 2018. But when I thought the worst was behind me, I was assaulted again in September 2018, by someone who knew I had just been engaged one month before and his girlfriend was dancing right there with us. He reached behind him to put his hand under my dress, up my underwear, slid his fingers under and rubbed my vulva. I froze. I blocked it out for about 5 days when I started feeling sick. And that is when I realized that this was an attack. I was not asked for my consent and felt used AGAIN…
I confronted him the next day by Facebook messenger. He called and apologized saying all the right words, even said he had discussed the matter with his girlfriend because he felt bad about it. So I spoke to her afterwards only to discover that she didn’t know about it! I felt cheated again, lied to again.
We stopped any kind of relationship, the friendship is over as I couldn’t trust him or feel safe around him ever again. But did nothing.
There must be something to be done, don’t you think?
What would you recommend?