Bethan shares her #MeToo experience and shines a light on victim-shaming
Restless founder Olivia on the meaning of survivor and today’s product launch to support our #MeToo services
I don’t think I’m alone in hating the word “victim.” While, yes, I was a victim of sexual assault, I hate how society has come to label us with that word. When someone refers to me as a victim, though sometimes this may not be the intention, I hear other descriptors, like “weak,” “incapable,” and even “dramatic.”
There’s a lot of shame attached to the word “victim.” Shame attached to the entire subject of sexual assault and its aftermath. Most of that shame comes from other people. But because no woman is an island, some of it can come from within. That is, perhaps, the hardest to deal with. After all, if you’re projecting shame onto yourself, how can you protect yourself from others doing the same?
When I hear the word “victim,” I don’t see myself. I see someone society doesn’t want to hear from. I see someone who has been pushed down and pushed aside. But when I hear “survivor,” all of that changes.
The Restless definition of a survivor is someone who’s been through difficult life experiences and every day, wakes up to fight to overcome their challenges. A survivor isn’t necessarily completely healed from their difficult experience, whatever that may be. Sometimes they’ll have days where they feel like moving forward is impossible. But they do the best they can, given the circumstances they can’t change. Survivors are the center of their own narrative. They are reclaiming their identity. They reject the negative presumptions society tries to burden them with. Their existence is resistance, even if, too often, it doesn’t feel that way.
Identifying as a survivor is a way for those of us with traumatic experiences to reclaim our own space. It’s a way to say to our assaulters: “Hey douchebag, I still exist, despite what you did.” Identifying as a survivor is to be proud of who we are again. As so many reading this will know, experiencing a sexual assault or a similar trauma can be dehumanizing, and can cause us to lose our identity in the mire of prejudiced attitudes and re-traumatizing experiences that can come afterwards.
If you’ve been following the Restless Network, you’ll know that I started this platform, now social network, after experiencing years of trauma. It’s always been about how to start fixing the systemic problems I, and countless other women, experienced. That’s why we’re so committed to being a resource and a conduit for connection for women everywhere. It’s also why my greatest hope is to keep our social networking app, where we provide #metoo resources, free.
But how do we do that and also keep improving on what we’re providing?
The answer, I think, is to create a line of merchandise that can help keep us running and hopefully thriving.
And we’re starting that today, with a bang.
When thinking about all of this, we really wanted to create a meaningful product that celebrated the many members of this community who are, every day, surviving – whatever that means for each of you. Something that is, and feels, luxurious and special. Because survivors deserve the chance to celebrate ourselves, to acknowledge how strong we are and how far we’ve come.
So with that said, I’ll introduce the first of our tester products, the Restless Survivor necklace! I hope it helps you feel powerful and that every day, it reminds you how strong you really are.