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Bearing Witness to #MeToo

I’ve been a bit stalled on the writing front for the past few months…and I find it kind of fascinating.

For a while I felt bad about not writing. But the more I sat with wondering where my writing mojo went, the more I learned about where some of my writing mojo comes from.

One of the things I’ve learned in this space is that I feel motivated to use my writing to bring ideas or issues to light. And, over the past few months there has been such intensity and disclosure around an issue that I feel so passionate about – sexual assault.

As I reflect on this and my lack of writing I can’t help but see a parallel between who I am as a therapist and how I am being in response to society.

Every person walks into therapy with a different level of knowing and being able to use their own voice. In the role of therapist, my goals include helping clients strengthen both of these capacities. The more we have these truths out in the open, the more we can help one another to get through and make the most of life. This could be through really hearing, seeing and responding to another person’s struggle. This can happen on an interpersonal level or through cultural and policy shifts on a societal level.

And, here, right before my own eyes is this revolution. People mustering up the courage to speak out and say #metoo. Speaking up no matter how long ago the assault happened. Speaking up even if they may get flack for it. Calling out the subtle and nuanced forms of sexual harassment or assault.

As people speak up, more and more people realize how this has affected their lives – directly and indirectly. To realize how many people in your own circle have experienced sexual harassment or assault is eye-opening. Through this collective experience, sexual assault becomes a problem worth paying attention to. And more people realize they can relate to or at least acknowledge it.

Being able to lean on other people after a sexual assault is one of our greatest forms of resiliency against post-traumatic stress. But when society minimizes sexual assault, or blames the victim it adds insult to injury. So many of my clients have experienced this and have felt so betrayed and alone with an experience that is so frightening.

As a therapist, it’s important for me to step in, witness, acknowledge and validate a client’s experience. Doing so helps to undo being alone with these overwhelming feelings.

To witness this conversation happening on a larger level is like witnessing society creating space for and validating survivors’ experiences. To see perpetrators start to be held accountable on even a subtle level gives hope.

There will always be deeper levels to explore with sexual assault and our revolution is far from over. However, in this moment, it feels important to step aside, witness, and let survivor’s voices take center stage – just as I would to help a client access and use their voice in session.

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gif of Natalia Amari shaking her hair

Natalia Amari, lcsw

On a mission to help others overcome trauma and reclaim their personal power.


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