Choose Empathy: International Women's Day

7 March 2018

One search of the hashtag “#metoo” is enough to bring anyone to tears, despair and anger. On the one hand there are many women and girls who have finally felt supported and brave enough to now share their story, but on the other hand, most of these stories are being told many years after the fact.  The reality that they have lived (for much of their lives) with shame, fear and a sense of isolation about the subject, is both disturbing and tragic.

Whatever emotion is stirred regarding the recent public shaming of many influential men around this issue – the fact remains that the World Health Organization report says: that one in three women around the world, have experienced physical or sexual violence, with this statistic rising exponentially when all forms of sexual harassment is included. This is not an issue of merely one or two influential people being accused in recent times – it is instead a “pattern of behaviour” that has negatively affected women’s lives and assaulted the value, identity, potential and promise that God has placed within His daughters.

As a Colour Sisterhood we have always stood on the side of justice, solution and pathways forward for women who have suffered injustice – so on International Women’s Day this year we stand with all brave women who have suffered sexual harassment, abuse, rape and violence of all kinds. We say that it is not OK, whether in the workplace, in the home, or even tragically in the church. TIME IS UP because there is no excuse for behaviour that belittles, assaults or damages the human soul.

Lynne Hybels in a recent article on this topic said:

Recognizing that women throughout the world are disproportionately impacted by all the great global tragedies, I’ve long believed that women need to be disproportionately engaged on the solution side. We need to live—really and truly and daily—as part of a great global sisterhood. Those in a position to do so need to extend mercy, fight systemic injustice, work to change cultural attitudes, pray, raise funds for transforming initiatives. And, of course, we need to speak up against the perverted preaching and patriarchy that too often fuels abuses.” (source)

So friend – if your story is a #metoo story, then take courage.  Your sisters around the world want to listen and help you on your journey to healing and wholeness. However this is far more than just a hashtag. You may need to seek help and justice. Some simple steps are listed below for how to do that:

  • If you are in immediate danger please contact the police.
  • Report to the police what should be reported.
  • Seek professional help and support. There are counselling lines in most countries with 24/7 support that can direct you to the right help.
  • If you are under 18 and experiencing any form of violence or abuse, speak up and tell someone who must report it to the authorities. For example your school counselor.

And for those who have never experienced the levels of abuse and violence perpetrated upon so many of our sisters, we CAN choose empathy. Choose to listen to those who have been silent for so many years, choose to understand, choose to be supportive and stand in the gap with them.  Choose to strengthen them and help them find the resolve to move forward. Always believe the person and never minimise their experience.

History may well record this current period as a major turning and shift in attitude, mindset and crime against womanhood.  Let’s continue to pray, example and advocate, so that our daughters and granddaughters will live in a world free of such trauma.

Bobbie Houston