Written by Dr. Christopher Marquart, Psychological Assistant supervised by Dr. Katja Pohl
While sexual harassment, battery, and assault undoubtedly take place all over the country and the rest of the world, it doesn’t seem too surprising that Los Angeles is at the epicenter of the recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein and others. I don’t pretend to fully understand what causes people to perpetrate such acts, but narcissism, self-aggrandizement, omnipotence, and wealth surely play a part. Los Angeles is home to Hollywood as well as significant music and fashion/molding industries; all of which perpetuate those same qualities.
The #MeToo campaign that emerged as a result of the recent allegations has sparked strong feelings about sexual harassment, battery, and assault, and how or when people should share their experiences. As a therapist who has worked with men and women who have experienced sexual harassment, battery, and assault it makes me wonder how the campaign effects those who have already begun talking about and processing their trauma, as well as those who feel unable to or have chosen to not yet share their story. The #MeToo campaign has the potential to bring up lots of questions and feelings for people who have experienced those types of traumas.
What is it like to choose to acknowledge my experience through writing #MeToo, or to choose not too even if I have had such an experience? Is the campaign an encouragement or obligation to confront a part of my life I just want to move on from, or thought I already had? Is the campaign a safe way for me to voice my experience and find solidarity with others or does it minimize my own unique experience? Is what happened to me really important or severe enough for me to be part of the campaign? Is this a part of my life I want to acknowledge and process right now? If so, how do I start?
These are just some of the questions and feelings that might come up for someone who has experienced sexual harassment, battery, or assault, but there are undoubtedly thousands more. Making the choice to acknowledge and share an experience of sexual harassment, battery, or assault is intensely personal, and beginning to heal from such trauma is a complicated, unique and painful process. Therefore, a hashtag should serve as a beginning, and not the end of the conversation. Support and guidance for many people who have such experiences is essential to their healing process. Whether that is having an open conversation with those you feel loved and supported by about what you have been through, attending a support group, or seeking individual therapy, taking the time to acknowledge and process the complex emotional, psychological, and physical impact that sexual assault can have is essential to healthy recovery and building resilience.
If you are looking for support processing your experience of sexual harassment, battery, or assault; or know someone who is looking for help you are welcome to call me (262) 607-2226