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The #MeToo Movement Has Created a Powerful Video Series About Healing

Shifting the focus from predators and scandals to understanding survivors.

If you’ve been wondering what’s next for #MeToo, here it is. Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, has turned the spotlight on understanding survivors and their stories. At the Sundance Film Festival, the movement premieres a series of animated videos narrated by survivors. The voices, the stories and the animations are unbelievably powerful.

The Survivor Stories depict first-hand narratives of sexual abuse underscored by stirring imagery. The series includes a range of lived experiences and narratives, including a video featuring actor Terry Crews. In an exclusive interview with Refinery29, Burke explains the intention behind these videos or PSAs:

‘Sundance is such a huge venue for premiering what’s new in media and what’s new in pop culture… We’ll be talking about the things we see here for the rest of the year… I really hope we’re able to influence the dominant narrative around sexual violence, which is that the bodies are at fault.’

Since #MeToo gained traction, there has been a lot of focus on people accused of sexual abuse, but not as much emphasis on the lives and healing processes of the survivors. These videos highlight their stories. The PSAs explore the healing process and how dealing with traumas (in specific contexts) takes on different forms for different survivors. It provides insight into their journeys, which in itself can be a healing thing for survivors and an enlightening thing for those who don’t understand what it means to be a survivor.

The PSA videos are below, and while there are no explicit images, these videos and narratives might be triggering to people who have experienced sexual violence. They are all prefaced with a message that the viewer should not feel obligated to watch them, or to watch them alone.

Actor and sexual-assault survivor Terry Crews speaks out on how men have called women liars and opportunists when they speak out on sexual abuse. As a survivor himself, he explains: ‘When this happens to you, you are trapped, and you are not a victim who needs help, you are a problem that needs to be eradicated.’ His message is this: ‘My advice to any survivor: I will not be shamed; I did nothing wrong.’

Burke also spoke about the importance of including male survivors: ‘We wanted to be really declarative about the fact that men belong in this movement, straight and queer men, girls and women, documented and undocumented. However you identify across the spectrum of gender, race and religion, sexual violence affects your life. Either you know a survivor, or you are one, or both.’

Emily Waters, a survivor of sexual violence and intimate partner violence, narrates her experience: ‘It took me a long time to realise it wasn’t my fault, but that was at least the seed of beginning the work of realising that I didn’t have to hold responsibility for the harm that was done to me.’

Daniela Contreras speaks about being a teenage victim of sexual abuse, and being silenced by fear and power dynamics, among other factors: ‘Many women go through this and they have to remain silent because they are undocumented or because they don’t speak the language.’

Anonymous speaks about a childhood sexual trauma and the process of dealing with memories that have been locked away: ‘I didn’t know our minds had that ability to put something in a box.’ Anonymous describes their process of reclaiming power: ‘You have to make the decision to stop shrinking yourself to make space for someone else’s feelings about what you went through.’

 

In the interview, Burke provides information on what we can expect from #MeToo in the future:

‘We’re introducing programmes every few months. We’ve funded half a million dollars in grants for organisations doing this work on the ground – those people who are living their lives every day out here in the world, they shape policy. Everything from voting on a new law or some kind of policy, to being on a jury, we need people to really understand what it means to be a survivor…’

May every survivor know that they are not alone.

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