by Leanne Shear

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Last month, we held one of our most important and impactful “Strong Women Uplift Each other” events yet: “SWUE: Me too.”

This past October, dozens of survivors started speaking up against the sexual harassment that they’ve endured, and that cascade appears to have only just begun; and the now-familiar #MeToo mantra has only itself just begun to put into words the amount of sexual harassment and assault women are forced to face on a daily basis. 

While this isn't a new narrative, it is clear that women are ready to talk about and actively fight against this abuse, and Uplift, being a place where we not only foment physical strength, but also trust, safety, and support,  stood ready and willing to lead the discussion, sparked by the stories of our courageous colleagues/hosts of the evening, Cassie and Kara, and compounded by the many stories other women were brave enough to share that night. 

We learned a lot. First, there are all sorts of kinds and levels of abuse and harassment (physical, mental/emotional, verbal etc.), but what they have in common are a resulting feeling of deep shame, worthlessness, and often, a fear of intimacy. And those repercussions are why women so frequently stay quiet, or make excuses to cover up our pain.

As a group, we asked ourselves how to create accountability for ourselves and/or other women in difficult or abusive situations? What moments cause us to finally leave the situation and/or to take action? After all, statistics show that the average woman goes back to her abuser seven times.

We learned that the victim of abuse or harassment has to get to a place of empowerment herself—no one from the outside can force her to leave until she is ready herself, and shame around that is the biggest barrier to speaking out. Friends and family can be there without judgement, remind the survivor of her worth, and help to empower her until she is ready to take the next step. And that’s exactly what we did at our powerful SWUE event: talked about these issues in a supportive community, and began the process of reclaiming our power. We shared, we listened, we supported.

As we discussed all of the nuances of the abuses of power embedded in the patriarchy under which we live, we extolled the many “micro moments” in the #MeToo movement and beyond, which will progress it, and eventually lead to big moments of true societal change. Our “SWUE: Me Too” was one such micro moment, and we at Uplift are dedicated to continuing the conversation….and changing the equation.

Helpful Links:

NYC Domestic Violence Hotline
Rape & Sexual Assault Resources (NYC) - Emergency Care Info, Hotlines, Counseling/Support, Legal Help, and additional information
How #MeToo Could Move From Social Campaign to Social Chance (CNN)
Exhale to Inhale - Yoga for Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Survivors

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