Liar! Liar! Liar!

For the first 2 weeks, I shook. I cried. I barely ate. No longer being able to depend on denial as a coping mechanism was gone. I was out. Everyone knew. I woke up every morning anticipating the next brave woman who would speak out and stand with me.

Silence.

What came next was a barrage of hatred, bullying and victim shaming. On the flip side, countless emails and DM’s from victims desperate to tell me their story. Stories that only a few of us know. Countless people who know my assailant and what he has done to many others also fear to speak up. They fear the repercussions.

Nobody wants to be me because my abuser has received no backlash.

Is it because Harvey Weinstein or Mario Batalli haven’t been adorned on people’s childhood bedroom walls? Is it because he is young and considered desirable by his fans that he can get away with such atrocities?

“Liar! Liar! Liar!”- #ISTANDWITHNICK

All he had to do is claim it’s consensual and that’s enough for some people. Is it so impossible to believe that I never wanted to do anything sexually with him because so many women do? I’ve considered that I may be the only woman to have ever said “no” to him.

No, I’m not the only one. And I know because I’ve been contacted.

Silence.

I know why. Because of fear. Fear of him. Fear of his machine. Those who support him. Fear of how he will accuse THEM of being a liar too.

But we ALL can’t be liars.

This blog below attempts to make a case that I am, in fact, a liar.

The Curious Case of Melissa Schuman written by Sara Taylor on the blog What Happen’s On The Backstreet.

It’s a gem. Cherry picked information designed to create a narrative that fits what best defends him. Has anyone else noticed she’s an editor for his website NickCarter.net? That sells his merchandise. Who had a vested capital interest in how my story might expose him?

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Nick Carter owns the Copyright. Powered by Wonderful Union. A merch company.

Is it possible that Nick Carter and his team are responsible for orchestrating this attack against me?

What do you think? @USWeekly @People @LATimes  @NYTimes @Time @PerezHilton  @TMZ

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Interesting. Sara Taylor seems to be based out of Nashville. Wonder Union also seems to have an office there.

Coincidence?

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“Slut. You wanted it!”- #ISTANDWITHNICK

Sharna Burgess This blog you emphatically encourage people to read and declare “KNOW THE FACTS” is not unbiased. It has an agenda. You should know that your defense of Nick not only further victimizes me but that your part of the problem.

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How am I supposed to fight against such blatant hatred? How does any person fight against someone with more power than them? I don’t have a fancy PR team or an army of adoring fans to defend me and silence the other side.

As of now, I only have my voice. I will refuse to be intimidated and afraid despite the accusations from the other side.

I understand I am not required to answer the questions addressed in the What Happens On The Backstreet Blog. I owe answers to nobody. But then I think about all the others who are still too frightened to say something and that makes me want to be brave for them.

I have decided to address the questions brought up to support those who need that extra nudge of encouragement to come forward. The backlash will come but you don’t need to fear it.

“Why did you follow him on Twitter?”- #ISTANDWITHNICK

I followed a lot of people on Twitter that I wasn’t even aware of. It wasn’t a social platform that I used constantly or even understood it’s power and influence.

Many times I would click on the profiles that Twitter would “suggested” I follow. Why? Because I didn’t think it was a big deal.

If you “follow” someone on social media it doesn’t mean you “follow” them. I think we all know that just because you “don’t” follow someone on social media, doesn’t mean you “don’t” follow them.

ABC’s “Boyband”-#ISTANDWITHNICK

He was cast as a judge on Boyband. Yes, I was previously hoping to be considered for that project too. I didn’t know Nick was attached to the project until a fan on my Instagram Livestream brought it up. I didn’t have the privilege to be honest. How was I supposed to react when they told me his Dad died? When they brought up Aaron?

I had been publicly acting like nothing happened between the two of us for over a decade. I was supportive of the concept of the project because of it’s potential for a spin-off, “GirlBand”.

I had to learn to have compassion for him. After many years of therapy I have learned that “hurt people hurt people” and because of this, I could try to move past what he did to me.

Forgiveness and compassion became my cornerstone and was my only outlet to cope aside from denial.

#DILF- #ISTANDWITHNICK

My husband @BrandonHenschel was tagged in her tweet. It’s the only reason I “liked” the tweet.

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“Why would you forgive your rapist?”- #ISTANDWITHNICK

If you look back on my “condolences” tweet, you will see my response was nearly 10 years after the assault. The statute of limitations was up. This was my way of relying on forgiveness and compassion as I was convinced he would never be held accountable.

I never thought I would speak out about what he did to me and this tweet would be used to ultimately villainize me.

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She Needs To Become Important…On The Internet. -#ISTANDWITHNICK

Over the past 5 years, I have been focusing on my comedy sitcom and improv chops. The video below was my first attempt at writing a satirical piece on the ludicrousness of social media.

I was reflecting on how the industry was changing. The need to be popular or trending on Vine or even Instagram seemed ridiculous to me.

I even made fun of myself and my group Dream without realizing we would eventually get back together years later on the My2K Tour in 2016. After 15 years of being apart, how could I possibly had the foresight that this video would be used against me, attempting to use it out of context, as evidence of needing to be relevant again.

IT’S A SATIRE. *NOT AN ACTUAL BLOG

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What matters is the truth. You, the silenced victim, know the truth. I know the truth. Remember that truth is our best defense.

No matter the cost, I am proud to be on the right side of history and I hope you will join me too. Speaking out against sexual violence, assault and abuse are so important.

It’s also important to consider not only ourselves but others. To live a life well lived. And I believe we are all being called. Called to stand up, speak out and to not be afraid. Not just for our own sake but for the sake of our children and our children’s children.

It’s not about me, it’s about the moral principle and responsibility as a human to stand up against injustice and abuse. I will stand firm for the others. In your silence, as you struggle to find your way, your voice, your courage.

Know that your story matters. You matter. You deserve to be heard and seen and validated. And don’t be shaken when they scream,

“Liar! Liar! Liar!”

 

Need help finding your voice? RAINN can help.

Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

How does it work?

When you call 800.656.HOPE (4673), you’ll be routed to a local RAINN affiliate organization based on the first six digits of your phone number. Cell phone callers have the option to enter the ZIP code of their current location to more accurately locate the nearest sexual assault service provider.

How can the hotline help me?

Calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline gives you access to a range of free services including:

  • Confidential support from a trained staff member
  • Support finding a local health facility that is trained to care for survivors of sexual assault and offers services like sexual assault forensic exams
  • Someone to help you talk through what happened
  • Local resources that can assist with your next steps toward healing and recovery
  • Referrals for long term support in your area
  • Information about the laws in your community
  • Basic information about medical concerns

 

 

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Eat Your Brussels Sprouts

I’ve been wrestling lately with how we respond as a culture given a common circumstance. That’s simple enough, right? Example, let us reflect simply on a child’s food preference. As a society, it’s acceptable if someone doesn’t like mushrooms, or kale or even cheeseburgers for that matter. Get my drift? Even if the world loves meat, it doesn’t mean everyone should eat meat or likes the way it tastes. Some people simply do not eat meat due to conviction and that should be respected.

Let’s take this to a elementary level. We all know it’s common that many do not like the taste of brussels sprouts. A repeat offender of spoiling a good meal for many.

Scene set. A child sits with his parents at dinner and brussels sprouts are served. The child HATES brussels sprouts and has protested it many times.

“EAT IT. ITS GOOD FOR YOU. EVERYONE ELSE LOVES BRUSSELS SPROUTS!”

The child eats the vegetable despite enjoying the taste of it.

Fast forward to his teenage years. We see this same individual trying to make the best decision by eating brussels sprouts despite the fact that they don’t like it. It’s good for them after all, right? But does eating them mean they like brussels sprouts?

No, they have conformed to their environment. They believe what they have been told. I don’t care how many pictures, or emails, etc that you have “showing” that someone enjoyed the Brussel sprouts. It doesn’t prove that they enjoyed it. I don’t care if they’re farm fresh, I don’t care if brussels sprouts usually sell out daily at the farmers market.

Some of us aren’t into it. We’ve NEVER liked it,  we said NO even when the world says it’s the best dish ever.

I passed on that dish before and I reiterate that I still hate that dish. No matter how much you want to tell the world that I liked or actively like it. I DIDN’T AND I STILL DON’T. I even had to change my number because brussels sprouts wouldn’t stop calling. But then again, they/you didn’t believe me the first time.

“No thank you. I don’t like brussels sprouts.”

“What if I put cheese on them?”

“No thank you. I don’t like brussels sprouts.”

Pours cheese on them anyway.

 

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Adulting, Instagram & Chronic Nostalgia

It’s been hard at times to remember who I AM. Who God has created me to be. After a year of labels, name calling, hate and gas lighting… mentally it has taken a toll. I don’t write this to worry anybody, I will be fine. God is with me through the fire and I know that I have support. I am currently in therapy to work through it. If there is anything that I have learned this past year, is that authenticity is important, invaluable, scarce and it resonates.

I find myself pushing back BIG time on the things that I used to put up with in the past. I am having a hard time with the idea of social media. How the images and messages are isolating and hurting so many to compare themselves and feel inadequate. Nothing about Instagram for me feels good.

The overzealous marketing. The constant need for popularity and growing numbers. It feels like junior high/high school on steroids.

It’s hard enough to go through adolescence and see the popular kids, who from my past experience, are up to no good. They bully, they belittle and they aren’t inclusive. Naively I thought this would go away when I grew up. And maybe people did 20 years ago. But with the explosion of reality tv and social media, I feel like we are all in a second adolescence.

Any I the only one?

We watch drama, gossip & people doing crazy things in order to decompress and entertain ourselves. As a stress relief. We watch people get emotionally abused and rebound in unhealthy ways while eating popcorn and a glass of wine. We are entertained by the bully. So these people grow more and more influential and powerful. Brands align themselves because of the millions that follow them.

I used to laugh and create characters out of people like this because of the sheer ugliness and ridiculousness of the climate. There is no way these people are real, right? There is no way people actually treat and talk to other in this way. And then I got a giant taste of it this year.

Melissa Schuman is a shitstain. She’s a thirst bucket. She’s a fame seeking nobody. A Homophobe. She’s an Amber Hussy.

Good God people! This is borderline equivalent to what I hear spewed on my son’s playground. You’re a loser! You can’t play! OR (You can’t “sit” with us.)

GROW UP! GROW UP! It’s not called adulting, it’s called you’re a grown person. So take off your Mickey Mouse ears and your Grinch pajamas because your 25+!!!

ANd NO you cannot trick or treat! Go to CVS and buy your own bag on candy. And when my husband refuses to give you said, Tootsie Roll, you don’t get to call him a racist.

I get it. It’s nice to be nostalgic but it’s not healthy to not accept reality in the midst of it.

Get your sh*t together, Carol!

It’s been very hard to focus, yet I am forcing myself to continue the renovation that started this past year. For one, the heaviness of the outcome, being unresolved, still makes me emotional. I tell myself over and over again that I did everything that I could to make it all feel worth it. I practice the new techniques for self soothing that I have recently learned and yet I am not 100% myself again.

I can’t explain how it feels to be shattered into a million pieces so publicly. The experience was like being a piece of glassware shattered only to have people look away because your value isn’t high enough so they step on what is broken.

I grieve a lot lately. I grieve for others who sit in silence and I grieve for those who have shared their stories. That have so bravely engaged in their trauma. It’s not for the faint of heart and I feel the heaviness of the irresolution. It angers me when I see their faces and then I see the sea of people who continue to look the other way.

What should I do when I know my part is done? My part in the battle is done but the war is not over. I am far too aware now. Sometimes it feels like I am drowning in sorrow. My priorities are family, God, peace and love. Caring for myself so I can care for others.

Go slow.

Go slow.

Go slow.

Taking in the slow life when the rest of the world seems to be spinning far to quickly. So quickly that we miss what is happening in a moment.

Where do I go? I go to my yoga mat. I learn to breathe again. Breathe into the pain. To be present again. To feel what it’s like to be in my body when I want to detach from it so badly.

Learning to breathe, stretch, pray and wait.

Wait for what? Change. Significant change. Despite this intention, I feel dread and sorrow. I didn’t realize just how sick the world is. I’ve always wanted to believe and see the best in people, no matter what my gut said.

Truth is, my gut is right. Our world is broken. People do not have the best intentions, and they are delighting in suffering at a growing rate.

Are you feeling the same thing? I have not given up on hope. I am merely allowing myself to feel what I am feeling, Sadness. Again, I am grieving. For you, for me, for us….

Why is it that what evil is considered good and good considered evil? I am seeing this truth more than I’d like to admit. I believe and root for the good guys. You’re out there, no?

SPEAK UP!! Our world is drowning and we need more good guys than ever. Be willing to risk is all and speak what is true otherwise we are all trapped in a world of lies and illusions.

F*ck It

A few weeks ago I decided to get back in the recording studio, something that pains me and leaves me feeling vulnerable AF. I don’t feel my best when I am in the studio because it doesn’t feel like a safe space due to past experiences. Ahem! I tend to recluse and disappear somewhere inside my mind.

It was Starr Jones, then manager for my group Lady Phoenix , that noticed the change. NOBODY before that moment had ever noticed or cared enough to address it. I guess it was acceptable that I retreated and crawled into the hole inside my mind.

Anyway…

Today, I am determined to overcome my traumas. When I was in the studio and started to write, I felt embarrassed describing how I would imagine myself as an artist. A female John Mayer. A storyteller with a guitar reflecting on real things, experiences and emotions.

The producer/songwriter that I was meeting with, Alex Rosales replied, “Then learn to play the guitar and make it happen!” I pondered the suggestion and considered it utterly ridiculous. “I am too old!” (I hate that tape in my head.)

and then I said…. f*ck it!

Sorry, sometimes there is no better word to express that feeling. (Lord, forgive me.)

I want to play the guitar! I have always wanted to play an instrument and I am tired of the limiting belief that I am not young enough to challenge myself and grow. Granted I tried learning the clarinet in elementary school but my teacher was such an ass (sorry again & thank you for your grace) that I hated it and eventually gave it up.

A few weeks later I went on Amazon and bought a basic acoustic guitar because I’m basic b*tch. Sorry, my self-deprecating humor is peeking through. But really, I am proud to say that I have been practicing everyday for hours ever since.

Yay me!

Funny enough, getting to connect with music in this way, where I am the one in control, has been very therapeutic & empowering!

So I want to ask you…what limiting belief are you living out that is holding you back? I want to know! Just as Alex Rosales did for me (purchase his new single Suda) I want to do the same thing for you. GO FOR IT AND…..

F*$%k it! (His grace is sufficient)

Undone

I have let myself become undone.

I am vulnerable allowing myself to fall apart, nurtured and rebuilt.  Looking at kindness as my guide and my goal. I am learning how to live my life open, vulnerable, without walls instead of the hyper-vigilance that I once did. My body is forcing me to address the debris that the abuse continues to bring in my life. Finding the strength to confront the “why I blame myself” and feel shame.

I’ve learned this place inside of me is called contempt. I refuse to hold myself in contempt anymore. This place doesn’t serve me.

The last few months have left me isolated and that surprised me. I thought I would feel stronger, better, restored quicker. Instead, I was being devoured by the feeling of being alone. I had finally entered the place where I had to start to care for myself and the trauma I have experienced. I’m more aware of the way my body has and IS responding. My hands shake from time to time and I physically start to shiver when I engage in my story. I want the feeling of weakness and helplessness to go away. I want to be strong. I want to go back to “normal”

But I can’t go back to “normal”.

“Normal” was intense denial, the acting that everything is okay. That I was ok. That the sexual assault didn’t have an effect on me and still doesn’t. I want to appear untouched and unscathed.

Like an onion, I am discovering layers of myself that I have never cared for, only neglected and left riddled with pain. I am learning the way to healing isn’t to ignore it, or run from it, but to run through it.

To engage it.

To feel it.

To grieve it.

To feel angry about it.

To hope for justice.

And long for restoration.

I recently joined a small group at my church. It was the first time I had been able to sit with others, strangers, who have also experienced sexual abuse. I thank God for bringing me to this space. A safe place, of no judgment and complete room to become undone. To unload the burdens and tend to wounds. To admit that we are tired and we are broken.

We journeyed together with the help of Dan Allender’s book “Healing The Wounded Heart.” Our stories are interwoven with each’s own unique scar. Although none of our experiences of sexual abuse/assault are identical, we found that how we responded, coped, hid, denied, wept… remain the same.

Listening to each of the beloved women’s heartbreaking stories of abuse, I began to open my heart to my younger myself. The one who I blamed for not knowing better. How can I have so much compassion and kindness for someone else but continue to barre myself?

We discussed the need to care for our bodies. To listen and pay attention to what our body is telling us. I hated my body and shut off my connection to it a long time ago. I cursed my body for freezing and not fighting. For my lack of language and my fragmented brain.  That those responses in the body aren’t to be ignored. I learned not to trust it and resent it. I learned to ignore my gut and my heart’s ability to dream gradually and it steadily dimmed over time.

My heart used to love music and even now I am numb to it.

The more I listened the more the pain showed itself. I started to notice that when I said his name I would shiver. My hands would start to shake and I started to feel angry. It’s hard to make me angry. It’s not an emotion I feel a safe feeling or expressing. Maybe it’s because I’ve learned that anger hurts people and I don’t want to do that.

Or maybe it’s because anger meant I could desire justice. Sadness leads me to grieve but anger would lead me to want something I would never have. I will never be able to undo what was done to me, stolen from me, jaded and perverted.

The women in my church group encouraged me to explore being angry and that it’s okay. It was the first time that I had really entertained that I was justified and righteously allowed to be angry. That what I experienced at his hand was horrific, unjust, damaging, abusive and traumatizing. That I don’t need, none of us need, to just GET OVER IT.

The very next day was KIIS FM’s Wango Tango. In the past, I would have ignored my feelings and acted like nothing was actively impacting me. I felt that admitting that it did give him power and I resented that. I felt angry and resentful but never showed it. I was robbed of my dreams, deceived, lured and manipulated to believe it was all my fault.

I’ve been told it is my fault for not telling the world sooner. I am told that if I had, something could have been done or that it would have made it better.

How?

Tell me how?

How could it have possibly been better then? I would never be the same and I wanted to believe I could remain the same.

I am tired of being told to just look away. To stay away. To just get over it. To let go of my dreams. To say goodbye to my passion, to an industry I loved being a part of.

So I watched.

I allowed myself to feel angry. My group, DREAM also performed at Wango Tango, years ago. I know people who work behind the scenes and yet I am shut out. Not him. I watched as thousands continue to ignore my story and the stories of the other women who spoke out against him years ago.

And then it was clear to me. I was watching the way the world treats ALL survivors of sexual abuse. They ignore it, sweep it under the rug, and we are the ones who don’t get to go to the party anymore. I thought about the women in my group and how they experienced the same response. A lack of care, a lack of action on their behalf and the pain of feeling alone and abandoned.

I don’t know how to fix this but I know that NOT discussing it continues to enable it. We are not the only ones who have been silent, you who choose to turn a blind eye to our stories and are silent too. We are at odds because we have chosen to not function the way YOU do anymore!

So I invite you, to become undone with me. To tell your story when you are ready. To know that we all can lead with a limp.

 

 

Shadow Days

The last 8 months have been a purging of past pain. At times it has felt excruciating. Regardless, my willingness to engage in my story has allowed me the words and the knowledge to not only recover from the trauma but help other survivors of trauma & abuse as well.

Do I have battle scars? Yes.

Will they heal? Yes.

Will it take time? Yes.

I am learning that it’s okay to mourn, it’s okay to cry and it’s okay to feel scared or angry. There is no judgement for how we breakthrough. The road is different for all of us. One of the biggest obstacles that I have yet to learn how to navigate is accepting that now so many people hate me. It’s a portion of myself that valued being liked. I am a people pleaser and taking care of myself and putting myself first and receiving so much blow back has been a challenge.

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Yet I am growing, I am changing and I am learning just how resilient I am.

How will I cope? I am still figuring that out, and I plan on my future posts being focused on the steps I am taking for self-care & other ways I am pursuing healing and wholeness. Some days are going to be harder than others but I know soon enough that my shadow days will be over.

Now let’s take a moment to pause. Be slow to celebrate when a sexual assault charge is dropped. The general public is in unprepared to understand that prosecuting a sexual assault charge can be, in many cases, very difficult to prosecute for a variety of reasons. In my case, it was the statute of limitations.

Take a look at the statistics. Did you know that even if  a case leads to an arrest, only 6 rapists will be incarcerated out of 1000 cases? Should we celebrate this? Because this is the sobering reality.

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Now I will disclose that I am not an expert in the field of criminal prosecution for sexual crimes cases, however, I wanted to pass down what I have learned in my own experience. Anybody who chooses to file a sexual assault case should know the uphill battle but this shouldn’t deter us from filing anyway.

1.) Potential obstacle. There isn’t enough “physical evidence”. Not all sexual assaults are physically violent and yes a rape kit can, at the very least, confirm that penetration by the perpetrator happened & collect the DNA. However, the “he said she said argument” isn’t eliminated unless there is additional proof of physical force or harm. For example bruises, tearing, injury etc…

2.) The suspect declines giving a statement. A grievance I can relate to. The suspect has a right to remain silent, by giving a statement could self incriminate. The suspect not giving the investigation team a statement further makes it difficult to prosecute him/her in a court of law as the jury needs to be unanimous in a criminal trial. This is not the same in a civil trial.

3.) Jury selection. This to me, is one of the most problematic issues in our judicial system when it comes to sexual assault cases. In most cases, you want a neutral jury. However, this makes it harder for a victim of sexual assault. The reason because there does need to be a certain amount of public education on trauma response and the brain and how it affects victims of abuse. It affects how we respond. It’s fair to say that trauma changes the brain in its entirety. The public has a responsibility to educate themselves on the truth about trauma, the brain and abuse. It is in my opinion that anyone without this knowledge shouldn’t serve on a jury for a sexual assault case.

For one, people who are not properly educated usually believe a myriad of false truths about rape victims and how it happens. Society has done us a great disservice by showing rape in movies and television in it’s most minority form, by a stranger.

Statistically, 7 out of 10 times rapes are committed by someone known by the victim. 45% are committed by and acquaintance & by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.

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Did you know, only 11% of rape and sexual assault incidents, the perpetrator used a weapon? It’s much more common for personal weapons—such as hands, feet or teeth—are used against victims of sexual violence in about 2 out of 3 cases.

What can we do? Think twice when you shame someone for NOT reporting the crime to the police. Only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 2 out of 3 go unreported.

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I want to encourage you to read this article by Julie Bendel

Yes, there’s a major problem with rape prosecutions. But it’s not that women are lying

An even greater disturbance to me is the growing voice of accusations that I lied and that other women who have reported a sexual crime lied. You must be careful when accusing someone of lying about a rape crime, make sure your evidence proves absolute consent on the accuser’s behalf. If you were not there at the time of the assault, you are not qualified to give your opinion. I am not encouraging you to believe any given victim, however it’s far more fair to just remain neutral.

Combing through a person’s past and capturing all the ways they have adapted is not evidence that the crime did not happen. It’s okay to have your own doubts and your own questions about a given account however that doesn’t entitle you to harass or perpetuate your own version of a given account. A victim doesn’t owe you an explanation about anything.

With this said, I would like to give my own statement regarding the Los Angeles District’s decision in my case:

My family and I were well aware of the likelihood that my case was not prosecutable due to the statute of limitations in California regarding rape which was modified in 2016. It is unfortunate that the law isn’t fully retroactive to accommodate assaults that have happened in the past, regardless of how far back. It gives me great solace to know that my testimony is fully documented, investigated and sealed for the future if needed by law enforcement. I gave my statement, as did the other witnesses. Speaking out was the best thing I could have ever done for myself and I hope it inspires others to do the same if it feels right for them.

#metoo #timesup