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In light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the #MeToo movement started by Alyssa Milano has opened the door to many women to come forth with their tragic abuse experiences, which, for a long time, they felt they had no choice but to keep quiet about it.

Ellen Degeneres said: “This is not a male thing or a female thing. It is not a Hollywood thing or a political thing. This is a human thing. And it happens in the workplace, it happens in families, it happens all over the world, and we are all the same. We all want the same thing—we want respect and love and kindness.” 

In my line of work, I see many women (although men are not excluded) who have been abused within their marriage/relationship, and who fail to acknowledge that abuse is not just about being raped or abused by someone they barely know or a complete stranger. It also happens with people we are extremely close to. People we trust and people we ultimately believe we are safe with.

While rape is a most tragic experience, abuse comes in many forms and it is equally tragic to whomever goes through it.

The important point here is that we must understand that we always have a choice. We may not have a choice to avoid the abuse at the time, but we have a choice to take a stand and come forward. We have a choice to voice and claim our rights. We have a choice to not be confined to feeling shame and be silenced by a belief that the abuser has control over us.

For the many victims of abuse, coming forward is not so much about putting their perpetrator away, as it is to come clean with the fact that it is not shameful to have been subjected to it, because one recurring opinion of victims who have kept silent, is that they felt shame and lacked support.

Thank goodness this is now changing.

When abused, we are often left doubting as to what we may have done to cause it, or, if in a relationship, we need to bite the bullet. After all, we did say “for better or worse” …

Now while some people will argue that there are different levels of abuse and if moderate, we must just let it go, abuse is abuse. There is no line to be drawn. If something makes you feel uncomfortable in your relationship, If a partner does not respect what makes you uncomfortable and does not take into consideration that your discomfort is valuable, then it is abuse.

Abuse is ugly. Abuse is degrading. Abuse is manipulative. Abuse is not OK!

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