Recently Time magazine named their Person of the Year, and rather than select one individual, they selected a group of women collectively known as “The Silence Breakers.” These are the women who have been coming forward in droves to share their stories of sexual assault and sexual misconduct perpetrated against them by some of the richest and most powerful men in the world.
This is, I think, both a wonderful thing and a very complicated thing, because at the end of the day, there are real live women behind these stories, and I hope they are receiving the help they need. Speaking up can be the beginning of a difficult road.
I see this scenario play out all the time in my work as a counselor. I work with the partners of sex and porn addicts, and I know that the act of coming forward – of owning your pain – is a huge first step. It’s bittersweet that so many women are taking this step publicly right now. Bitter because in a better world there would never be so many victims, but sweet because I think they’re helping show other women the way to taking their lives back.
That way is through seeking help. If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately and feeling some kinship with the women speaking out, it’s probably time to examine your own relationships, your own experiences, and then reach out to a professional who can help you work through it.
It’s Okay To Acknowledge That Speaking Up Is Hard
As I’m sure you already know, it takes a tremendous amount of bravery for a woman to speak up about having been mistreated, either in or out of relationships. It occurs to me that there might be countless women out there who still haven’t. Perhaps you’re one of them.
I am hoping that this media circus results in more women taking the time to examine their lives and relationships, and to come to an honest decision about whether or not they might need help working through it all. You see, what we’re not seeing behind the scenes is the therapy and counseling these Silence Breakers might be going through, but it’s important that we take notice. I have empathy – all counselors must – so while I can absolutely see why a woman might be hesitant to embark on this journey, I want to take this chance to personally invite you to work through this with someone who can help.
Self-Care Amid The Firestorm
The news is rough right now. Whether or not you’ve been in a situation like the ones these Silence Breakers are mentioning is beside the point. It’s still confronting and triggering to hear stories of any negative sexual encounter if you’re struggling through relationship issues of your own. Being exposed to the news over and over again can lead to a negative headspace. At this time of year, I always advocate that women take time for self-care, but in light of what’s happening now, I feel it’s especially important this year.
What does self-care mean, in practical terms? Well, there’s the pop culture idea of what self-care looks like (spa days, indulgent meals at restaurants, etc.) and those are wonderful, but that’s not exactly what I’m talking about.
The very first step of effective self-care is to simply forgive yourself if you’re not handling this news so well. I’ll be honest here, some of these stories are very hard to hear, and if you’re having a difficult time with them, it’s normal, rational, and completely forgivable.
The all-important difference is between whether you let this triggering news consume you with negativity, or if you reach out for help to get through this in a healthier way. It’s time to take the hand of someone who can help guide you through these messy and complex feelings, and to do it in a way that promotes self-care, self-forgiveness, and stronger relationships.