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#METOO

more than a viral campaign

As a young girl, I knew of two women who openly discussed child sexual abuse: Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angleou. Each shared their stories with strength and resilience. I remember Oprah sharing her story on national television and feeling less alone. I read Maya Angelou's poetry as a teenager and it inspired me to find solace in writing. Maya Angelou and Oprah's bravery to speak out and write about a forbidden subject inspired me then and now.

Today, what was once off-limits to speak of is being shouted by millions of women and men. Since the "me too" campaign went viral last month, "me too" has been shared over 825,000 times. Over 5 million people have participated on Facebook with 12 million comments and reactions.

This viral campaign is as powerful as it is historical. For those speaking out, you are making a difference. You are bringing light to the dark underbelly of sexual abuse, assault and harassment. While there is criticism for merging "me too" stories from serious violent attacks to inappropriate comments it's necessary for us to keep the momentum and keep talking.

Influential athletes, actors, politicians and news anchors have all come forward and shared their experiences. Olympian McKayla Maroney is a hero. Not for her incredible athleticism but for her immense bravery and strength to speak out about the years of abuse by predator and team doctor, Dr. Larry Nassar. Can you imagine how many young girls and boys are feeling less alone or feeling more empowered to speak out because so many powerful men and women are peeling off the shame of sexual abuse?

In Dr. Brene Brown's 2012 TedTalk, she discusses shame and the consequences it has on the human spirit. Brown specializes in shame research and in her talk she explains that shame is highly correlated to depression, suicide, aggression, violence, addiction and eating disorders. Brown says shame needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgement.

The two most powerful words for empathy: "me too"

-Dr. Brene Brown

As a fellow survivor of sexual abuse and having shared my story publicly two years ago in my blog Journey to Health, I can tell you that the campaign is significant to me and many others.

For those that don't understand the importance of this movement, I pray you have empathy for those sharing or participating. The article written by Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik victim shaming other actresses, all I can say, it is not the critic who counts. The credit belongs to the women and men standing up and speaking out. As Teddy Roosevelt said "the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena". Mayim Bialik is sitting in the nosebleed section. Fellow survivors, I salute your strength and courage. I'm in the arena with you.

The "me too" campaign was started nearly a decade ago by Tarana Burke, an activist and survivor of sexual violence. She started this campaign as a way of uniting survivors with others through empathy. Read more here. For the TedTalk by Brene Brown on shame and empathy, listen below.

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