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You and #MeToo

By Amy Austin, RN, Psy.D., LMFT
The #MeToo movement is allowing many women and men to express hidden truths.

It’s been a long “quiet before the cultural storm” and now, a distinct shift is taking place. Barring the etiological causation, rhymes and reasons, perspectives and opinions, there exists the potentially positive development of a new norm in society coming out of the #MeToo movement.

A highly observable movement of stepping outside of one’s comfort zone to share deeply hidden truths that have been kept secret, minimized, or even subconsciously forgotten for years, has come to light – not in a therapy room or support group – but out to the entire world. These hidden truths were perhaps minimized due to long-held societal cues, youthful naiveté, fear, rationalizations, and/or justifications in order to move up an occupational ladder where men have held the top positions.

There is always a tension of opposites with regard to the black and white in life. If there has been an abuse of power unleashed for eons, eventually a monumental shift will occur in order to re-calibrate. It is now happening and there seems to be no turning back; the lid has been blown off the kettle. Whether it has been sexual harassment in the workplace or hostility in other environments, change may very well be on the horizon. In the past, society might not have applauded this fight, but now there is strength in numbers.

The abuse of power comes in many forms. It’s not just about sexualizing a person; there’s a powerful emotionally-controlling aspect in taking a person down a peg or two. No one deserves respect if they dis-empower another human being. Today, this long held, historically dysfunctional mindset is being challenged and will no longer be tolerated.

I always say that our behaviors define who we are. We teach others how to treat us through the application of healthy, adaptive, and functional boundaries. We teach what we will tolerate and what we will not accept. As we give our children a moral compass, we must also “walk the walk.”

There have been men that have come forth sharing their truths about an abuse of power. A watershed moment can occur when more men are willing to speak up about their own abusive experiences, communicating to the world that this isn’t only a female problem, but a human problem that has the potential for positive resolution of epic proportions.   

Only from a position of empowerment can we flourish, recognizing and respecting one another as equal partners, each with our own talents and unique strengths, working together as a united front for the betterment of all people.

Dr. Amy Austin is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFC # 41252) and doctor of clinical psychology in Rancho Mirage. Dr. Amy can be reached at (760) 774.0047.

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