The 'Me Too' Campaign Is Sweeping Social Media. Here's How To Heal If You've Been There

Photo: Hayden Williams

In light of recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting upward of 35 women, actress Alyssa Milano launched a Twitter campaign on October 15 based on the "me too" movement, which was started by activist Tarana Burke 10 years ago. "If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet," Milano wrote. The campaign has since gone viral.

In the past few days, women all over the world have come forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault, and others have simply let the explanation of "me too" stand on its own. Here are a few powerful examples.

The first time it blatantly happened - I was dancing in my denim mini skirt and cowgirl boots after feeling inspired to move my body from watching the movie Footloose. I was 21, hardly ever drank and could count on one hand the number of times I’d been in a club. I felt my heart sink into my stomach as this guy’s fingers found their way up my skirt and under my panties. I remember quickly spinning around and watching the young man laugh at my reaction. Shock quickly gave way to embarrassment and I ran, shaking and holding back tears, into the bathroom to clean myself up and pull myself together. I tried not to make a big deal out of it after, or ever, seeing how it was just a ‘guy’ thing to do and I was asking for it by wearing a skirt too short. Looking back on this I’m so heartbroken yet proud of how far I’ve come in my own journey and mindset as a woman. Unfortunately since that day there’s been countless episodes of harassment, verbal and physical, manipulation and bribery, that have passed my way. No one’s story is too small to be heard. We are stronger together babes. Do not harm, but take no shit. 👊🏼 PC: @keoniology #MeToo

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🙏🏻PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO READ: That time I was 15 years old, locked in a Mexican club bathroom with two guys I knew...drunk and incoherent as they put their hands all over me...only to be interrupted by a long line of angry people needing to use the toilet. It was okay, because we were just drunk and young. •That time when I was 19 and watched a guy slip something into my drink at a frat party and I politely pretended to sip on it to avoid making a scene, having to sneak out before he realized I’d been faking it. But it was okay because I got away and just would avoid their parties in the future. •That time when I was 21... new to New York and made eye contact with a man as he took his penis out on a crowded train to touch himself while staring at me. It was okay because people can be crazy in New York. • Or that same year when I was wearing a short skirt on the train and a guy grabbed my bare ass as hard as he could with his rough hands. I punched him in the face. But it was still okay because I probably shouldn’t have been wearing such a short skirt in the first place. • Or all those other times when dates in the past few years with sensible guys put their hands on me before the second drink hit the table. It’s okay because that’s just how things are now. Well, if sex is a potential on the first date, the second drink groping under the table fits just right in that timeline doesn’t it?• Or that time every single day when my music isn’t loud enough to drown out sexual slurs hurled or of car windows or whispered under breath as I hurriedly pass by. It’s not okay. ✋🏼IT’S NEVER FUCKING BEEN OKAY. To mentally survive we’ve created these false reasons of why this behavior is acceptable or warranted. Maybe even somehow our fault. I don’t give a shit how drunk you are, how short your skirt is, or how flirtatious your words are over dinner... it’s not okay. ✨ The only way we can not feel alone is by sharing our stories. Coming forward is the only way to change culture. 👊🏽Below, I urge you to share your story if you care to. Or if you prefer to just say, ME TOO... that’s enough. You are not alone. This stops now. With us. ✋🏼 {Photo by @therefinedwoman ✨}

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If you, too, have been a victim of sexual harassment or assault, know that you're not alone. Further, you don't owe anyone your stories—and that's not the point of the campaign itself. Instead, it's to shed light on what a huge problem our society has in its treatment of women as a whole. Here are some action steps to take if you're looking to heal from your own "me too" experience.

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Allow yourself to feel it.

Dr. F. Emelia Sam, author of I Haven’t Found Myself but I’m Still Looking, says the first step to healing from trauma is acknowledging the pain and letting it in. "Note that feeling it doesn't mean wallowing in it. Many people go into denial or use distractions to avoid the feeling, but repression has never helped anyone in any productive way," she explains. "What you don’t deal with comes to express itself in unhealthy ways. The longer it's avoided, the more damage you have to deal with down the road. Time won't heal all wounds; only awareness can do that. Understand that nothing heals unconsciously and face it head on."

Breathe deep.

When it comes to healing, breath may be one of our most powerful tools. While there are hundreds of different techniques out there, breathwork expert Ashley Neese says that if you want to feel calmer and more connected to yourself in just 60 seconds, take long, deep breaths through the nose and exhale out of the nose for two to three counts longer than you inhaled. So if you breathe in for two breaths, try to breathe out for four. "The slower you breathe, the quieter the mind will become," she explains.

Try this body scan and journaling exercise.

Body scan meditations are a powerful way to let go of tension, and if you need evidence of just how powerful a body scan is, research shows that it has pretty immediate benefits for anyone dealing with chronic pain. Studies also show that body scans are an amazing way to alleviate anxiety, frustration, and anger. Want a simple, effective body scan followed by a therapeutic journaling exercise? Give this one a try.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by sexual harassment or assault, don't be afraid to seek help. Talk to someone you know and trust, seek professional counseling, or call any of the numbers provided by the Feminist Majority Foundation.

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