So unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week or so (or just not on social media), you’ve noticed the numerous “ME TOO” statuses flooding FB and twitter. While I understood the general concept (to bring awareness to sexual assault and abuse), I had no idea where it came from and what prompted it. So like any curious person who wants information, I Googled it…lol. Well needless to say, I am all too familiar with aspects of sexual assault/abuse both professionally and personally. What is most baffling, however, is not the sheer number of individuals updating their status on FB and twitter to stand in solidarity with others, but the idea that people, victims, survivors, are still made to feel ashamed of having been assaulted or abused by another person. Victim blaming still very much occurs, and it happens in every type of social interaction you can fathom. It happens when victims take the stand in a courtroom, it happens through the media, it happens through social media, it happens in every community, it happens in schools, it happens in churches and other religious institutions, it happens in families, and it happens amongst friends. Don’t pretend like you haven’t heard/seen this happening. We’ve all read a newsfeed that talks about the victim’s past relationships or sexual interactions. We’ve read the comments of people discussing the victims clothing (or lack thereof). We’ve heard comments speaking about a person’s choice to consume alcohol or drugs. More recently, we’ve heard individuals discussing how long it took someone to speak up. You may even be one of those individuals who have made the comments or had the thoughts. My question…that has yet to have ever been answered…is why does any of that matter? A person’s choice to dress a certain way does not give free pass for another person to not be able to 1) demonstrate self control 2) disregard personal boundaries 3) force themselves on another individual and/or 4) make ignorant, inappropriate, and/or insulting comments. A person’s sexual past and relationship history is not an automatic “green light” to engage in sexual acts with another individual nor does it negate that person’s right to say NO! While public schools are busy giving out dress codes that can make catholic school look lax, how about we also include rules on what TRUE CONSENT actually is and what self-control looks like. Don’t get me wrong, I whole-heartedly agree with the need for a dress code because otherwise the hallways would rival a Victoria Secret and Calvin Klein underwear fashion show (because apparently clothing that actually leaves something to the imagination is old fashioned). However, though I don’t necessarily agree with what is worn, it does not equal consent to assault, abuse, or harass. The answer to why it took so long to be reported is the very purpose of the post…because of shame and fear! What people are doing when they resort to victim shaming, is giving a pass to the person who is truly to blame…THE ABUSER! I believe the statistics are something like 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men are sexually abused (according to RAINN). That number is DISGUSTING and NOT because of the victims! While everyone in this country is busy fighting amongst each other about the current political climate, I would surely hope you all would take a moment and look in the mirror and figure out how we address this problem together. How can we make it so that more people speak up when this happens? How can we be sure that the abusers aren’t allowed to roam freely to re-offend? How can we begin to shift the narrative from victim blaming to offender blaming? How can we ensure that the victims receive the services they need to heal? How can we as a country begin to grow a conscience and place the humanity back in the human race? My personal opinion is that the first step is to STOP making excuses for the offender, and STOP searching for a reason to blame the victim. What are your thoughts/suggestions?