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#MeToo:

Diana Adams
May 10, 2019 · 6 min read

A Communication Revolution

The #MeToo movement shook us all awake to the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in our society. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate one in three women and one in four men will experience sexual violence involving physical contact in their lives. This doesn’t include incidents of verbal harassment. The statistics are even graver for marginalized communities, including women of color, LGBTQI people, and low-wage workers. As we watched the hearings related to sexual assault of the distinguished professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, we were all reminded that even education, status, and privilege won’t mean that our trauma is treated with respect, even on international television.

Skillful Advocacy for Others — but Not Myself

As a lawyer and political organizer, I am a highly trained advocate for individuals and movements. By my mid-twenties, I was a skillful advocate in courtrooms, to elected officials, and on stages in political campaigns. Yet somehow I had never learned to advocate for myself.

How Experiences Impact Communication

We need to be aware of the social constructs and trauma that can impact women and other marginalized individual’s ability to express boundaries and desires clearly. An intimidating power dynamic of race, class, or professional standing can make it difficult or unsafe to reject someone or criticize harassment from them. A trauma response can lead to freezing up. There can be a moment of shock, disbelief, and denial when a positive encounter you’ve been looking forward to turns ugly. Sometimes we don’t say no because it’s a calculated move to preserve safety. In addition to all these forces and more, women have often been taught affirmatively not to speak up and instead to please those around them.

Learning to Listen to Ourselves

I embarked on a decade-long journey to learn to listen to myself, tap into what I actually wanted, and express it to those around me. I uncovered my own feelings of lack of worth and self-blame (such as “I probably did something to deserve this treatment”) and embarked on a journey of unlearning them. I studied Nonviolent Communication. I trained extensively in mediation and modeled positive communication with my mediation clients. I supported other assault survivors as a sexual assault and intimate violence counselor. I embraced polyamorous relationships and communication, which required me to focus deeply on self-awareness and communication with partners and metamours.

Shifting Ourselves & Society

This skill needs to extend beyond our personal lives for a true shift in society. There are many root problems that need to be addressed to fix the culture of sexual harassment and mistreatment of women and other vulnerable groups. But one bold step forward would be to learn as a culture about enthusiastic consent and empowered communication. These concepts deserve to no longer be an afterthought in our education.

Diana Adams

Written by

Speaker/policy activist/mom. Lawyer/Mediator for LGBTQIA/non-nuclear family: www.DianaAdamsLaw.net Communication educator: http://CourageousConversations.Work

Diana Adams

Written by

Speaker/policy activist/mom. Lawyer/Mediator for LGBTQIA/non-nuclear family: www.DianaAdamsLaw.net Communication educator: http://CourageousConversations.Work

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