The Gift of Going Second

Right now many women on Facebook are going public about the sexual assault they’ve experienced. When I woke-up this morning and checked Facebook, I was stunned by all the women sharing about their experiences. Being in a sorority and on a college campus in the 2000’s, I heard countless stories about friends who were victims of sexual assault. It happens everywhere; not just on college campuses, but it is definitely prevalent there. These stories are not new to me, but when you see such a large number of people in your network sharing, it’s overwhelming. It’s truly an epidemic.

They’re posting two words: Me too. Some are sharing more details or that it wasn’t just once. It’s not just millennial women either. Truly, they aren’t just women. Sexual assault and harassment victimizes men, too. We all lose when we pretend it isn’t happening and when victims are afraid of speaking out. Especially in terms of sexual assault and abuse, it’s usually a silent suffering. It is often shameful for a victim to speak about it. That’s why most women stay quiet.

But today, on a very public platform, they’re telling of their experience. They are sharing because someone else went first. The first woman (or man) to speak gave them the gift of going second; the opportunity to say, “Me too.”

Today it’s about sexual abuse and assault. October is infant loss and miscarriage awareness month, so women are sharing about that, too. It’s lonely when you think you’re the only one with that experience. Then the loneliness can lead to shame. You can begin to believe that your experience is unique, and you’re the only one. But when others start talking, and you realize that you’re not alone, you become more confident in sharing about your experience. You then free others up to do the same, knowing that you’ll be met with acceptance, and not judgment.

Thankfully I don’t have a personal sexual assault story or an infant loss or miscarriage story. But friends close to me do. Even if it’s not the exact same experience, when they’ve shared,

I’ve become more courageous about sharing about my deep hurts, too.

Vulnerable friendship gives that gift. The gift of saying, “Me too.”

Friends who have shared about the struggle to become pregnant have allowed me to share about waiting in my singleness without feeling shame about my own longings. Instead of living in isolation about whatever I’m walking through, I can choose to share and be met with acceptance and love.

It’s tempting to live in surface level friendships with people, but relationships where you bear each other burdens and invite your friends to do the same are where friendship is best. If we really want to fight against loneliness, it’s vital that we share the deep parts of our heart, even it’s hurt and pain.

It’s been devastating to see the stories shared today. It will continue to be difficult to hear them. But there is great power in sharing not only to create awareness, but also to connect vulnerably with others.

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