Time magazine just released their famous annual issue announcing their “person of the year.” In this case, there were many persons of the year as they announced “The Silence Breakers” to the honorific title.
If you’re not in the know, The Silence Breakers are those women (and men) who went public with their stories of sexual misconduct, abuse, and in some cases, even rape with the platform of “#metoo.” A couple years ago, the actress Alyssa Milano posted on social media encouraging women who had experienced such things to reply beginning with #metoo. She had no idea it would spread like a wildfire overnight with some 35,000 replies. With the Harvey Weinstein scandal as well as countless other sexual misconduct scandals that have become public, this movement came to the forefront of the public eye.
I think Time has done us a great service for commending these women and it is high time the Church follows suit. We all have experiences and stories that many times go unshared or are even silenced because of shame or even fear. These kinds of abuses and neglect happen all around us, and these experiences aren’t exceptions to the norm, they are a painful reminder of it.
#Metoo gives countless amounts of women (and in many cases men, too) permission to name these things in order to get past the stigma, silence, and ignorance of just how common these experiences are.
Especially in this day and age, we need bonds that are stronger than our differences and these bonds can form out of our most painful or shameful experiences.
#Metoo teaches us that we should stop standing by when we see, hear, or know about something wrong that is going on, and especially in the Church, which has had its own stains of patriarchy, abuse, and scandals, this should be the place where issues such as this are taken seriously. The Church should be the safest place in the world for victims of such experiences, not the place where they feel like an outcast.
If you’re a female who has been victimized by such behavior, we are here, we are listening, and we believe you.
If you’re a male who has been the perpetrator, there is grace and forgiveness for you and we are here to listen and help you through it. The Church is a place where all are welcome that seek healing.