THERE ARE MANY reasons why I find it difficult to turn on the news. Audacious and violent abuses of power are escalating; their grievous impact is mind-numbing. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the recent revelations of how sexual violence and harassment were regularly practiced, indeed normalized, by many men in high places of government and commerce.
It’s hard to take in these stories, especially for women like myself who have suffered for years the ongoing traumatic effects of such violence. There is hardly a woman in this country who hasn’t suffered some form of male sexual violence. When we hear such stories, most women and girls simultaneously relive their own horror stories. It’s not a distanced, objective matter, blithely suited for early morning talk shows. We have painful flashbacks that bring with them a sense of dread, loss of voice, and overwhelming feelings of powerlessness. That’s what happens in the aftermath of traumatic sexual violence. It has the power to haunt you for a lifetime. Sadly, it is most acute when it is kept secret, or not acted upon when revealed. The majority of cases today fall into these categories: Never making headlines, never redressed.