The Meaning of #MeToo Advocacy

I was at my dentist this morning over an old issue. Simple compared to what I deal with each day as an advocate in the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements.

I was prepared to hear that I need a crown to save a cracked tooth. The hope is the crown will do the job.

What the dental assistant needed to talk to me about was much more complicated and took twice as long as the visit with the dentist. It started out being about suicide, but quickly turned into the reason for the self-inflicted tragedy.

All having to do with a recent case of major collusion in sexual assault, where the perpetrator committed suicide as soon as his latest victim went to police. The victim is an elected official in a mid-size city here in KS that would still qualify as a small town in most states. In spite of her being in a position of political power, people are blaming the victim for causing the suicide of their friend, a guy she assumed was her friend, too. That's what happens in small towns where incest seems to abound, unaddressed in families and institutions. Same as in incestuous churches, I told the assistant, and suicide by perpetrators who know they're about to get in serious trouble for good reason is a common scenario.

Sadly, it becomes a double whammy for victims, who not only have no hope of getting validation thru the courts. They also get blamed for causing the suicide. Yes, you heard right. Finding closure is doubly complicated. 

This challenging work that I find extremely rewarding, despite the challenges, never ends. It pops into life when it's least expected so many times. Two months ago, when a physician spilled her guts to me on another office visit. Being prepared to "bear witness," which is what I consider this work to be--bearing witness to the truth, as a survivor-friend reported doing only yesterday--well, that's what the calling is about. You do not even have to tell much of your story or even any of it, as long as you are informed and can speak with authority to the issues, offering your on-going support.

It's a Mission Impossible, if you choose to accept it. A choice. An earned privilege. An honor.

Doing so is not about being the bearer of bad news, as some seem to think. It's about being a strong bearer of the good news that there's hope in numbers, even when one has fallen prey. That's what the #MeToo movement shows us. Whether the case happens in a powerful church or Hollywood or in Olympic circles or the White House, there is good news and there's bad news. They get intertwined in the lives of victims, bystanders, and even perpetrators.

There is also hope when we realize there are a lot of ways to survive and even to thrive. Yes, even to be transformed in a positive way. Even after sexual assault. Even after career loss as a result of reporting. Even if one has exhausted all legal recourse. There is still life and hope. Oddly, there's a membership into a very elite group of activists if one wishes to join the throng. For, on a global scale, we are being heard today like never before. 

This you are learning day by day if you are a part of the #MeToo movement, whether as a survivor, an advocate, or both.

Together we are changing the world! A fierce force in spite of all collusion. History is on our side, and our great-granddaughters will know it. May they not forget their roots.


Miller's website has been a source of enlightenment for survivors and advocates since 1997. Author of six books, three specifically on the topic of collusion with abuse in the faith community, include her 2017 release, Enlarging Boston's Spotlight: A Call for Courage, Integrity, and Institutional Transformation (available also in Kindle form). 


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