A take on Time’s Person of the Year — ‘The world is listening’

Phone dialing 911

The momentum of The Silence Breakers, named Person of the Year by Time last week is contributing to the emotions that I am sorting through today, and yesterday, and for months. It is an acknowledgement of hundreds of survivors’ stories of rape, sexual harassment, and sexual assault that are coming out rapidly, in headlines and news feeds around the world.

I am angry. I am relieved. I am frustrated to the point of tears. I am bolstered by the displays of unity. I am hopeful that the tide is shifting; the norms could be changing. I am scared.

Two nights ago, in the parking lot under the Austin Central Library, I dialed 911 on my phone, ready to hit send as I walked to my car. This is something I’ve done since I got my first cell phone at the age of 20. I am constantly aware.

I’ve read “The Silence Breakers” three times now, opening up the text that underlies each photo embedded throughout the article, considering the stories of these brave individuals, as well as the consistencies and differences between them.

The examination of power and how it is exploited by these (mostly) women’s assailants, and the acknowledgement of particular vulnerabilities that many survivors experience – racism, poverty, and gender identity among them – is well done.

Tarana Burke, the activist founder of #metoo, who is notably absent from Time’s cover image, has said, “It’s not about a viral campaign… it’s about a movement.” And I can really feel that this is a movement.

This energy is spreading between survivors, throughout offices, entire cities, and across continents. More and more stories are coming out every day, with some emerging from the Texas Capital just nights ago. It is an overwhelming, energizing, exhausting, important time.

To speak about sexual harassment, abuse, or assault, is to put a personal, traumatic experience out in the open, where it will likely be picked apart and scrutinized. This is a radical act. Believing can also be a radical act.

It is Dec. 11, 2017, and I am sorting through a range of emotions, knowing that this is a time to keep moving forward, speaking, believing.

As we are reminded at the closure of the Person of the Year article, “The world is listening.”

4 Comments

  1. I am 74 and have worked in software since 1966. Retiring from technology in 2006. Since then working in non profit and government industry. I want to discuss sexual abuse in the software industry. Asulted at NASA in FL/1968; in the oil industry in 1972 in Houston. In 1978 on a business flight to Saudi Arabia still in the oil industry. In the ‘80’s while working for a software company in Houston. The common thread in all of these assaults are it was always my boss. I kept quiet to keep my job.

  2. I applaud all of the Silence Breakers! I am an adult Survivor of CSA which began before the age of one and continued until I was in the 7th grade. The abuse robbed me of being able to live a normal life for years.

    When I first sought therapy in 1971 I was an enigma. The therapist, due to no fault of his own had no idea how to even begin to help me.

    In 1978, I once again sought help and did get some assistance, but it was not until 1991, that I finally found a female therapist in Austin whose specialized in helping adult victims of CSA.

    I am a 65 year old woman who still goes back periodically for assistance when “triggers” set off memories of the CSA. When all of these men and women who had been sexually abused for years began to come out of the wood work I thought I was losing it until my therapist helped me understand that it was my inner child who was being traumatized all over again and helped my find ways to make her feel safe again.

    I have devoted my life to being an advocate for survivors of sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

    My mother was killed in 1999, a victim of domestic violence.

    So like thousands of others I have walked the walk. I strive each day to be there for anyone in need.

    I should also share that in 1991, after being in group therapy with 10 other CSA survivors, seven who were nurses, like myself, I called the Executive Director of the Board of Nurse Examiners, who was Louise Waddell at the time, and asked her if she could give me a rough estimate of how many RN’s who go before the Board for diciplinary action disclose that they had been abused, without hesitation she said 99%.

    So, as a member of the Texas Nurses Association, I talked with the Executive Director, Claire Jordan and asked if I could write an article telling my story. She agreed, I wrote the article, entitled “Finding the Courage To Heal” and it was published. I included all of my contact information in the article and at least 50 nurses either called or wrote me a letter thanking me writing the article.

    For some it was a revelation that they had also been abused but had suppressed it for years.

    I also applaud the work that each of you do! Thank you.

    Linda S Moore, MS, RN
    A SURVIVOR, no longer a victim of CSA
    Cell: 512-633-3757

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