How many of you have felt triggered reading and hearing about the Harvey Weinstein allegations? Many of our listeners have. We have. We support the #metoo movement spearheaded by actress Alyssa Milano and have a very powerful discussion with host Kristin Sunanta Walker, Melanie Vann, and Melissa Richards about sexual misconduct and abuse.
We’ve learned that while the abuser and society may wish to paint those who come forward as people who:
Can’t seem to “move on” or “let things go”
Are only women
This is simply not the case. Uncomfortable topics need to be discussed. Every victim and then survivor of sexual harassment has their own journey to recovery. As you evolve, your voice and understanding of what you experienced changes. It does not disappear.
Being quiet supports the abuser not the abused. It also supports those who enable and act as accomplices to the abusers.
This is not gender specific.
The days of “men are just men” are over.
Thank you for joining us on this poignant and deeply personal show.
Empowered Empaths: The Wizard of La La Land: Harvey Weinstein and Other Narcissists
Download the Transcript: Empowered Empaths Wizard of LaLa Land 10.20.17
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KRISTIN: Hey everyone. This is Kristin Sunanta-Walker, and I am here with Melanie Vann and Melissa Richards. Hey ladies!
MELISSA & MELANIE: Hi!
KRISTIN: We are doing an Empowered Empaths show today, and a special one, because there’s been a lot that’s been going on in the news lately regarding Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault of women. There’s a hashtag that’s been put out there #metoo for anyone, male or female, who has experienced sexual assault in their lifetime. It’s something I thought we should talk about. We’ve talked about it on other shows. There’s some new information that I’ve processed through this. It has been very triggering for me. I would say not in a bad way. It has helped me gain some new perspective, and I thought it would be a good idea for all of us to chime in on this subject. I know that I’m not at all surprised at the number of men and women that have been posting on social media #metoo. It hasn’t surprised me because I’ve been talking about this since I was fifteen or something. I wondered, Melanie, what your thoughts are on that, and if you’ve been surprised at some of the people in your circles or outside of your circles that have come forward with that?
MELANIE: No, not at all unfortunately. I think this is much more prevalent than any of us ever speak about. I think when something like this happens and it is so public, then it gives others a voice. I think that can be healing. I think sexual assault is very often swept under the rug because it’s filled with shame. Oftentimes, the people who are perpetrators are people in power, so they have reason to try to keep secret. I believe that generally sexual assault, or anything in that realm, is about power. It’s not about a person always being perverted. They can be a pedophile or whatever, but really it is about power. It’s about, “I own you. You don’t have a voice. There’s nothing you can do about this.” That is what the person enjoys who’s doing this type of thing. It really reduces whomever they are against to something that they are not, which is just dehumanizing. I think that’s what silences people because it does come from that place; and no, I’m not surprised at all. I’m proud of everyone that comes forward, and I hope more people will take the chance, as ugly as it has been, to seek healing because speaking about it and hearing others speak about it is the only way I feel you will ever find healing.
KRISTIN: Absolutely. What about you, Melissa?
MELISSA: You know, it’s interesting to hear other people’s reactions because I’ve been having some conversations about this with some other people who have experienced sexual assault, and they actually feel the opposite about the movement itself: that to say five letters, two words – me too – almost makes something part of a movement and less individual for them. It takes away part of the significance of what happened to them and makes them part of this whole bigger picture type of idea. Those people that I have spoken with have felt that it actually doesn’t help, and that there should be some type of acknowledgment. Now we are all saying, “This is a problem.” Now we’re all saying, “Yes, this happened.” But what? Where from here? I think speaking about something is healing, but it’s a first step. I’m wondering what’s next? Are we offering information? Are we saying, “So let’s get counseling – here are some resources?” You know, where from here, now that people are opening their wounds and exposing them? It is a problem. Awareness of the problem is certainly not going to change abusers because it’s very strategic on their part. They all know, like Melanie said, the power differential is there because they know whom to target and how to hide it. There is nothing about it that is like, “Oh, I have this perversion; I stumbled upon it; it just overcame me, and I couldn’t help myself!” There is a lot of psychological abuse and planning, so these people are not going to be changed by people coming out and saying, “Yeah, it’s a rampant problem.” You know? I thought that was an interesting perspective on both sides.
KRISTIN: Hmmm. Yeah, that is an interesting perspective. I, for one, am just glad that, like I said I have been talking about this for a long time, and I’m glad that it’s being spoken about by people who have some power on the side of the people who are victims of this. Not just about sexual assault, but also about sexual misconduct and about sexual inappropriateness. Some of the things that I have thought about recently, and this just struck me; I just had this “Ah hah!” moment right now, Melissa, as you were saying that. Yeah, you’re right. The #metoo isn’t going to change the heart of the perpetrator – and that’s so true. It’s true that they do pick people. And you know what? I was picked. I’ve talked about the story of me in the office and that the owner was coming on to me. He knew, because I had told him as I had told other people in that office, that I was molested by my biological father; and he picked me to put his hands on. I have no doubt that that was by design. I’ve run the gamut of emotions around that. Why was I targeted by him? Why did no one in that office speak up for me, even when I reported his behavior? I even had someone, who was horrible to me about this, who came to me and complained about him and how he was treating her. Even though she wasn’t supportive of me, I still went to him and said, “You’re inappropriate. Knock this off. This is not okay behavior.” That strikes me as interesting. It also strikes me as interesting that people who do this, who are predators, absolutely believe that it is their right to touch you. I think about the fact that if he just hadn’t touched me, if he psychologically played games with me (I’ve dealt with that for years being a female in technology. I’ve talked about that ad nauseum!) I could handle that. But the fact that he laid his hands on me was the tipping point for me. He felt that it was his right to do so. That audacity, that belief that it’s okay to do that, and when I wanted nothing to do with him (I didn’t want my name, my picture, or anything associated with his business, so I brought an attorney in to tell him part of our agreement was that he was not supposed to have anything on his website that had my name or my company) he also felt it was his right to complain that I dared speak about what he did that was what a perpetrator does to someone. I want listeners to get into the head of someone like that. Not only did he feel it was his right to touch me, he also felt like it was his right to complain about me complaining about him touching me. Think about how screwed up that thinking is, and that the women in his office also believed that there was something wrong with me that I dared say something to him! That is how screwed up this whole system is. That’s where I agree with you, Melissa, that yes, #metoo is great – but it’s such a baby step in this long-standing conversation.
MELANIE: Yeah, I haven’t sat and thought about the meaning behind the #metoo. I don’t initially understand it, except acknowledgment and to show some type of support to others I guess. But I’m not real sure of the purpose either (however I’m not a millennial so I don’t understand a lot of those things I think), so I don’t really understand exactly what people were meaning to do by using that hashtag even though it was a way to give some support to others. It is just a starting point, and I don’t know that I’ve seen any education, Melissa, now that you’ve mentioned that. I will definitely be getting stuff up on the website for what you need to do if something like that has happened to you. Kristin, it is a culture, and I feel more times than not, in places of business, in Hollywood, in churches, in gyms – wherever you are – it’s typically not just one person. It is the flying monkeys who surround this person who are also allowing and creating this environment that allows things like this to happen.
MELANIE: I don’t understand why we don’t have more conversations about respect: respect for each other as human beings and respect for each other’s bodies. I think it’s illogical to think that we as humans are not going to look at other people of the opposite sex or the same sex, whatever it is that is your sexuality, because bodies are beautiful! There’s nothing wrong with admiration. But there is something wrong with that different look that is about ownership and that is reducing. There are so many images these days of just flat out sexuality; the lyrics in songs (I was just listening to some music my son was listening to) are so explicit. You really have to teach your own and take a stance against what is in society, because society continues to tell us that our bodies are to be objectified and that respect is definitely not on the top of the list of things. I would like to have that conversation come forward. I know men that have definitely had this same problem. It’s not just women. Sometimes women are the perpetrators; so, it goes both ways. It’s just as invasive – whomever is doing whatever it is – and equally as harmful. It’s an epidemic. I guess the power, now that I’m speaking about it, of the #metoo is not keeping the secret; because what keeps these things going is when people don’t speak up and when secrets are held in families – generational incest and things that go on. The secret is what keeps it alive. The lie is what keeps it alive. If enough people can be brave enough to speak out, it’s wonderful. But sometimes, for example why we are talking about this with the Harvey Weinstein situation, I’m sure a lot of those people thought they would lose their jobs; they wouldn’t get their part in a movie; they would be extricated out of Hollywood. I’m sure the same happens in churches and businesses. If you speak up, there is going to be a consequence. That is blackmail! That’s on top of sexual assault! You’ve got blackmail on top of that. It’s just these layers and layers, like you were saying Kristin, of this psychological grooming that we talk about. I’m sure all of these victims were groomed. Sometimes you are groomed; and sometimes you are just groped in a public venue. I remember as a young woman going out and going to bars and clubs, there was nothing that made me madder than to walk by someone that would stick their tongue out at me or …
KRISTIN: …grab your rear end, yeah.
MELANIE: Right. Or wiggle their…I mean it just made me so angry when people did things like that. That, to me, is just as invasive as someone touching you by groping or doing something nasty. Respect is something we really need to sit back and think about.
KRISTIN: What respect actually means.
MELANIE: Yes, exactly.
KRISTIN: Melissa, what are your thoughts?
MELISSA: A couple of things. I think, just what you said Kristin, about how it is interesting how it gets turned on the victim that they are the oppressor because now they have spoken and that breaking silence is the greatest offense. Now this is not just for sexual assault. This is not just for sexual harassment. That is true anytime there is any kind of abuse, that the greatest offense becomes if you speak about that abuse. But, what is interesting, Melanie, as we are talking about the #metoo thing, is that it is a first step because it allows people to say, “Yes, this has happened to me.” But it is still not calling anyone out specifically. It’s still not saying, “And this person is the one who did it” because I will tell you, it’s one thing for people to own that they have been harassed or abused, but it’s not stopping anything because no one is being called out specifically. “I was abused, and this person did it!” Now that’s a very scary thing because of the power differential. There’s always consequences for that: relational consequences, financial consequences, perhaps legal and otherwise – social.
MELISSA: I mean, it is limitless. But in a way, we make the choices that we do to say, “Okay, which set of consequences can I live with?” So, a problem does persist because we’re trying to survive. We’re just trying to survive the best we can and make the best choices that we can. This is not to say that everybody needs to speak out, that everybody has to, or that it is even the best choice for their life. (Or perhaps not at this time because I think there is something that is a little bit bullying to those people who are not in a place that they are ready to speak up to say that you have to, because then that becomes another violation to them to say, “Here. Do something else that you don’t want to do or that you are not ready to do.” That becomes offensive on the other end.)
MELISSA: Also, I think it is also important to distinguish that while it’s maddening to be harassed, and that’s not okay – that it is a systemic respect problem – that’s not the same in degree or impact as someone who has been abused in the sense of sexually assaulted. I’ve been sexually harassed numerous times; but the impact on my life has been to be annoyed and to avoid certain scenarios – but it has not been the thing that has caused me to need to go to counseling or had a deep life impact. I think that’s another thing that people have expressed that is troubling for them. People are saying, “Me too, me too, me too,” but it’s like, “You haven’t lived what I have lived, and please don’t say it’s the same because it’s not.” So, I guess there is that element as well.
KRISTIN: I think about that in terms of what I felt when I said something about this, when I reported it and nothing was done. Did he try to have sex with me? No, he didn’t. He just did all kinds of touching me, sexual innuendo, rubbing up against me and all of that kind of stuff that I’ve talked about on the show. I have had those kinds of things happen, and I have been sexually violated as a child. I know that I felt like I was the problem, that I had a mental illness, and that I didn’t behave in the proper way in terms of handling what he was doing because of what happened to me as a kid. I mean, you can see how I victimized myself over something that happened to me. I did not ask this man to put his hands on me. I did not invite him to do such a thing; and yet, I internalized it and took it as my fault. Then there went a road of mental illness, suicide ideation, and harassment from my co-workers (whom I also thought were my friends). It was a road that happened. Because of what happened to me when I was a kid, did that make it worse for me than someone else who hadn’t had that happen to them? Absolutely! But none of that was my fault!
KRISTIN: And yet, I was treated as if it was. I guess the piece that just struck me so hard was the audacity to think that it’s okay to do what you are doing to someone, and then the audacity to act like you’re the victim because they are complaining about it. That is what happens so much in this society. It just galls me; and I’ll tell you what – I thought about this with Patricia Steuer who is one of the Bill Cosby survivors and who came on our show and talked about how that whole thing was for her, the trial, and the years of living through what she lived through. I think how painful it must have been and has been for so many survivors to watch these people – men or women who are predators – go on and have success upon success; have a seemingly happy marriage; to receive accolade upon accolade. I mean, mine was just in the paper. A wonderful guy in the paper. I look at that and I think, “God!” You are in that state of cognitive dissonance looking at this like you are already victimizing yourself; they victimized you; and you’re not someone and I’m not someone that screams, “Victim!” because damnit I’m a champion! But that is what happens. Here you watch them just standing there getting an award or an accolade or a whathaveyou – clappity, clap, clap, clap – what a great person. It’s horrifying to sit there and have that happen, to wonder about running into them somewhere if you live in the same neighborhood, or running into the people that didn’t believe you and that called you crazy. It is such a long road for the survivors of this to go through the mental health care that is needed in order to come out the other side and be a survivor not a victim. And guess how much mental health care the perpetrators and their cohorts – their enablers (men and women) – take in that process? Zero to none!
MELISSA: That’s one of the things that troubled me, and I may step on some toes here. But when Michael Jackson passed away and everyone was grieving and mourning, I thought, “Are we overlooking the fact that he’s a suspected pedophile of many? Has that become a family household joke?” That’s terrible! To hail him as this great – even in passing – there’s something looming here in the conversation that nobody is speaking about that is pretty significant.
MELANIE: No, I have those thoughts too, Melissa. Again, this may step on some people’s toes too, but I question why is it that we’ve talked about Bill Cosby, and you talked about Patricia, Kristin? I feel like there was a bigger fight for Bill Cosby. I feel like Harvey Weinstein has immediately been held accountable…
MELANIE: …and all these women have come forward – which is great! I’m so happy – but what was it about Bill Cosby that people kept coming to his defense? To me, it was just as many women if not more, and this guy drugged people and raped them!
MELANIE: So, I don’t understand, is it just because he’s like America’s sweetheart or something?
MELANIE: What’s the difference here? The other piece is that it’s such a juxtaposition that people are so comfortable with sexuality as far as the images that we see in our society; but yet, we aren’t comfortable with talking about sexual abuse. People are just not comfortable in that space. Anytime I’ve ever said the word “molested” people immediately become uncomfortable and quiet. Whenever you say the word incest, it’s the same thing. I’ve shared this on other shows before, Kristin. It took my mom about ten months to get our trial to go through the system because nobody wanted to prosecute my uncle. It was just because they were a prominent family and no one wanted to do it. Luckily, it got through the system and it was the most distorted, strange – I think I may have shared this with you, Kristin, but I don’t know if I have on air – but literally the judge said out loud (and he retired two years after this case happened), “This is the most disturbing case I think I’ve ever had to try.” It really was just because my family didn’t really think – they were admitting to every single thing – but for some reason they just didn’t think there was anything wrong with it, that these things just happen, and that it was not that big of a deal. Then at the time, because my uncle was a minor, he did not get jail time (even though he has several felony accounts on his record now) he had a probation officer. I remember the probation officer talking to us at some point after she had made several visits to him, and she literally said to me and my mother, “Well, I find Mr. So & So to be very engaged and charming.”
MELISSA: Oh, of all…Wow!
MELANIE: To sit there, it was like she enjoyed going over there and that she just thought he was doing well. Here I was drowning, as my brother was, and my parents just stood there with their mouths open! But that’s happens! That’s what happens! People were so uncomfortable with the fact that we were five and six when this started. Half the family spread a rumor that I was thirteen when this started and that I seduced him.
MELISSA: Oh, my goodness! As though a thirteen-year-old can be held liable!
MELANIE: Exactly! People are just so uncomfortable with sexual assault, and for the life of me I can’t understand why people just turn their backs on these things. I had a discussion with a classmate the other day that had the same general practitioner as I did, understanding that this general practitioner was giving breast exams to 13, 14, and 15-year-old girls and getting his jollies, and did not know. I talked to several other of my high school classmates and they were like, “Oh, my gosh! He did that to me too!” I thought, “How did this guy get through, retired as a general practitioner in a small town, and was abusing these teenage girls? People just…I don’t understand why we are so willing to turn our backs on these things, or not to step out and be brave. It’s not just sexual assault. Families know about parents harming children and no one does anything. No one steps in to help. I see these videos where there is someone laying in the middle of the street and people just walk by. I don’t understand that mentality. It’s just maddening! It’s maddening.
MELISSA: One of the things that we are all talking about is that the people who do these things repeat these things. It’s never like, “Oh, I made a mistake. I had an accident. I just had this sexual urge; I acted upon it, and I didn’t do it again.” No! By the time that you are a person that has those appetites that drive you to do something that somebody else doesn’t want to do, and you can still be sexually aroused despite their level of interest or not, then you’ve reached a level that is just – there is no reforming that! Those people continue to repeat, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat! If someone has done it once, they will do it again. You should know that it’s a growing appetite because it’s the appetite for power, and that is a bottomless pit!
KRISTIN: You know, Melissa, you say that and I agree. It makes me sick to feel relieved at hearing you say that because I just – I said this to Melanie the other day – I said, “Is anyone ever going to catch this guy? Is it ever going to come out?” Because clearly, my loud ass voice did nothing to this guy – nothing! He was ticked off about me doing shows about narcissism and wanted me to take all of them down, and I was just happy that he fricking read them and knew. That was an admission right there – that he knew that he could be part of that conversation because he knew he’s guilty. What killed me was, again, the audacity of being upset that I dare – because it was going to be embarrassing for him in front of his family or his employees. I’m sitting there thinking, “If you didn’t act like a disgusting jackass, you’d have nothing to be embarrassed about. But how dare you get upset with me for talking about what happened.” Of course, you can recognize yourself in writing like this because you are a perpetrator. How sad for another woman. A part of my talking about it was I wanted to make it so awful for him that he didn’t do this to anyone else. You know what the sad truth is? He absolutely has and he will. The other sad truth about that is while I will feel awful for who he’s done it to, I will also feel relieved if he gets freaking caught finally to the point where he can’t deny it. You know what I’m saying?
MELISSA: Uh huh.
MELANIE: Yeah. Unfortunately, sometimes even when people get caught, I feel like the laws – these people don’t serve enough time. It doesn’t make sense to me that a rapist goes to jail for three years. It doesn’t make sense to me that a pedophile goes to jail for five years and then gets out…
MELISSA: Yeah, what?!
MELANIE: …to do the same thing. I don’t understand why this isn’t taken more seriously; but then sometimes it is. My sixteen-year-old son was telling me the other day that a friend of his, who is younger than him – he’s fourteen or fifteen, on a twenty-dollar dare, went up to a girl and touched her rear end. She reported it, and the county where I live in has slapped that kid with a felony – with sexual assault – and he has to register on the sexual assault thing…
MELANIE: …and he’s still a minor. I don’t really know how all those laws work, but he still has to do that. I don’t know the age you have to still register. So, I guess some people are taking it seriously, but the majority of the time nothing is done about this. It is filled with shame, and part of the reason that people are shamed is because the majority of these people are narcissists and they are not responsible for their own feelings. So, they are putting any bit of shame that they have, which probably isn’t a lot, onto you. Shame is a powerful thing. It’s a powerful, powerful thing. Our bodies are intimate to us; so, when you are violated it is such an intimate shame. I don’t know if that is an appropriate way to say it, but it’s just so shameful and hurtful for some people. To come out and say it is basically like being victimized again.
KRISTIN: All over again. Yes.
MELANIE: Yeah, if it’s not met with the right response. I don’t know how else to do that except just to educate others about what is the right response.
KRISTIN: Melissa, what are your thoughts?
MELISSA: I’m just thinking that I have so much compassion for so many people that I have known that, one of the reasons people don’t speak up is because nothing happens. You can’t prove it sometimes, and it’s your word against theirs. That’s the way our laws are written in order to protect the innocent; but then it also doesn’t protect the innocent on the opposite end. I hate to sit around and talk about problems without a solution, because I don’t know what the solution to that is. I think it’s better to spend our time on solutions, but what is the answer to this legally? What is the answer to this when you have someone who says, “Hey, this happened to me.” But then they hear, “Well, nobody saw it and we can’t even tell…” What do you tell that person? I don’t blame them for not wanting to speak up because what’s the point? Then I’m going to learn that my voice has no importance as I go through the legal system and become even less inclined to want to speak up. I think there is something that is psychologically healing about speaking up and saying, “Hey! I will advocate for myself. I will not sit by and allow that to happen without holding you accountable.” But the problem is, though you do that, sometimes the law does not hold them accountable – and not only that, it is traumatizing in the process! So, I feel so frustrated. I’ve never – nothing like that has happened to me like it has happened to you and Melanie, Kristin. But I see it, and I don’t know what to do except I’ll testify for you if you need it. What can be done, you know? That’s the challenge for people who do know about the issue and want to help but don’t know how. Then I think all we have to offer is a listening ear, comforting arms, words of hope that healing and restoration can happen. Is that then what we need to be about – just one on one helping them and understanding the process and giving them the space to grieve and be exposed in a safe way?
KRISTIN: I know. It feels hopeless. I want to give the National Sexual Assault Hotline number. It’s 800-656-HOPE (4673). Their website is https://www.rainn.org/. They have literally been inundated lately with the number of reports of sexual assault and sexual misconduct. So, if it’s anything from a co-worker is making sexually inappropriate remarks to you; they are rubbing up against you as you walk down a hallway; they are coming up and rubbing your shoulders and your neck behind you at your desk, or they grab you anywhere on your body – or they actually assault you sexually. Call that number. The first thing you can do is call that number. I think I get it with what #metoo is about, just coming from someone who has been here. For me it’s about people (women especially) that do have power and are saying #metoo, that does make it okay for women who feel like they don’t have any. Someone like Reece Witherspoon or Ashley Judd or Oprah Winfrey when she came out and talked about her sexual abuse – people that we look up to that do have power in a very powerful industry saying, “This happened to me too.” The fact that they aren’t shamed into silence anymore. Harvey Weinstein and the entire industry of Hollywood can’t take Reece Witherspoon down. She’s reached a level of power within the industry. Ashley Judd – same thing. I think what we’re seeing is a tipping point. We’re seeing a tipping point to where people like Rose McGowan – I’m telling you, the things I have read about that woman. She’s an actress. I have read she’s crazy; she’s over the top; she’s vitriolic – things people have said about me for the things I’ve talked about. They’ve said the same things about me. Finally, she’s spearheading this movement for things she’s said all along. I guess what I’m saying is, for me the #metoo piece is – it doesn’t mean that you have to speak up – it just means that the power imbalance is starting to shift, because women who do have power are not being silent about this anymore. This means that behaviors and initiatives are going to be put into place that will trickle down to help those of us that don’t have as much power. I do now have the ability to do that if that person wants to try to come after me again. I’ve got no problem saying what I need to say – absolutely none! You’ve all heard it on the show. But for other people that don’t feel like they have that, even knowing that you’re not alone is a huge piece to this. Does that make sense?
MELANIE: Oh yeah.
MELISSA: Uh huh.
MELANIE: Yeah, it does. That is powerful in and of itself. I’m thinking – Kristin, are you in front of your computer?
KRISTIN: Uh huh.
MELANIE: Google how many states it is legal to rape your wife or husband.
MELANIE: It’s still legal in some states.
KRISTIN: Okay, rape in the United States. Let’s see – laws regarding rape.
MELANIE: I don’t know whether I’m terming that right, whether it’s really legal, but it’s like you can’t press charges against your spouse for forcing you to have sex in some states.
KRISTIN: We’ll have to post that up, but I know what you’re saying. There are some states where it is still legal, even in some states in the United States, for sexual abuse and for forced sexual contact if you are married to the person. These are old laws that haven’t been changed, and yes, they still actually exist.
MELANIE: Yeah, they do. And that is just like this twisted mentality of ownership that I think we like to have toward each other that is just so far from the freedom that we are supposed to enjoy in relationship. But again, this is what people of power, who abuse their power, try to do is that psychological manipulation. That grooming can be so powerful so that you are afraid to speak out, that you are afraid that there is going to be something that’s not worth losing to you. But I can guarantee you from experience, I know for me (and a lot of people would not have chosen this same option and a lot of families haven’t) I cannot imagine my life if I had not taken the steps I did to make my family member accountable for what he did to my brother and me. I would still be in bondage. There was not going to be any healing in that family. It would have continued, and we literally lost everything we had. We lost the entire family, and that was really painful. But for me, there was no other option because the thought of not holding him accountable – I couldn’t have not done it. I know a lot of people don’t have that support. I’ve said on the shows before that I had the support of my parents. I think that would be one piece for someone who has been in a situation like this. Seek support. There’s plenty of support groups out there. Find other friends that maybe have been in these situations so that you can get the support you need to be strong enough to speak out and have a plan for holding these people accountable. But again, Harvey Weinstein was recorded. I don’t know if you have heard that recording on TV that they played, and then the district attorney decided not to press charges, and this guy went on to harm other women. It’s just – you know! I think support is the big piece; and then educating yourself and making sure you find a good counselor that is experienced in sexual assault if you have been assaulted.
KRISTIN: I think also that any – man if one woman in that office would have stood up for me – just one – or male (but he was the only one). If one of them had said, “My God, Kristin, this is so wrong. I am so sorry” and had said something to him, that would have made all the difference in the world to me. It would have meant all the difference in the world to my mental health.
MELANIE: Yeah, you were really piled up on in that situation for sure.
KRISTIN: I mean, I turned it into something fantastic that’s helped a lot of people because that’s me. I think the message there for me – for anyone, male or female – believe. Stand up for someone. Listen. Don’t victimize them further by telling them to be quiet about it or to not talk about it. Stop listening to the BS out there, because I’ve heard it all. “You know, Kristin, you’re never going to have male friends because they are all going to think that you are going to accuse them just because they give you a hug.”
KRISTIN: I heard that from some of these women in that office. I thought, “Are you kidding me? Do you know how many male friends I have now who would never and have never? That’s something else too. Some of the counselors that we’ve talked to, or just people that say that they are about men’s rights or even women’s rights, that say, “But you have to feel bad for these perpetrators! They are people too.” You know what? You go ahead and do that. That’s not my side of the line in the sand. So, you go ahead; but don’t you dare think that you’re going to be a welcome visitor! There will be an endpoint of you on my show if you are going to continue with that line of BS here.
MELANIE: Yes. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I can have empathy for someone who has a mental illness; but in the same breath we are all responsible for our mental health. If your mental illness is causing you to sexually assault people, then it’s still your responsibility. It’s no excuse. Do you understand? So, it gets very tricky. I know we have laws where you can plead insanity and those things; but I think we have to be held accountable for our own mental health. Some people are so mentally ill that they don’t know that they need to be responsible, and I understand that piece too. But when you are harming someone, I mean honestly, I don’t think that all perpetrators are mentally ill.
KRISTIN: I don’t either.
MELANIE: I don’t buy into that. I think they are just nasty people, and if you want to call nasty people mentally ill…
KRISTIN: You’re doing a disservice who are actually mentally ill.
MELANIE: Exactly. There are some people who are just selfish and greedy and entitled and think they have the right – just like you were saying earlier. I don’t like that mentality. We all have to struggle to not give in to sin. I work really hard not to in some areas, you know? These people who are perpetrators are just not! They are just giving in to it and getting pleasure out of it. So, I don’t buy into that belief that any person who does bad things is mentally ill. I just don’t think that’s the case. What about you, Melissa?
MELISSA: Oh man! I am burning on the inside.
KRISTIN: Share it baby!
MELISSA: I think this has nothing to do with mental illness! Nobody sexually abuses anybody out of mental illness. That is a spiritual sickness! They are evil! What they are doing is evil! It’s not like – I’ve known people who are schizophrenic, people who are bipolar, people who have genuine mental illness – and they have not been driven to do these things. There is something different operating in these people, and it’s not a mental illness problem. It’s a character disorder. It’s a spiritual problem. This is not! It’s not! And anyone who wants to say, “Oh, it has to do with the brain and my brain caused me” – I reject that! Even people who have brain malfunctions and abnormalities – if they knew that they had to hide it, then they knew they had a choice about doing it. I do not believe it. If it is done in secret or if it’s done in a way that, “Oh, I knew that it wasn’t supposed to be done” – it’s a choice! Plain and simple it is a choice, and you choose – even if it was a difficult choice for you – you choose that it was okay to do. For me, when I think about God’s heart toward this, He talks about that it would be better for someone to have a stone hung around their neck and drowned – that’s how He feels about these things – than for someone to touch His children or His people. We are His creation and you don’t do that. He doesn’t tolerate that! He’s not okay with it. It makes His nostrils flare with fire and His chest heave like He’s rushing to your aid. That’s the kind of anger God has for these things! Then, He has the kind of tenderness of that parent who you hope will respond with loving you and hugging you and comforting you, but then also taking action on your behalf – because God is a God of justice. He’s a God of compassion and mercy. And let me tell you that when someone has been violated, He does not take that lightly. So, I don’t think that we should take it lightly and say, “Oh, but let’s try to understand where the evil came from.” No! That’s not even relevant! It’s not relevant in the discussion. It has to be cut off. It has to be dealt with. I think if I was going to share a message it is that for those people who have been violated that there is hope because God can restore. He is a redeemer, and He is so loving that He can make you new in a way as though, not that your memory is erased, but as though He can use evil for good. He can take it and make you stronger. He can take it and He can heal others through you. It does not have to be purposeless. But that doesn’t mean it is good that it happened. It does not mean that it was okay or acceptable or that people should not be held liable. We have to hold them liable. That is the only way that predators change, because consequences speak. They are only driven by consequences; and when there are none, they will not change. If you want to help them change, it’s not to try to reform them. It’s to hold them accountable to whatever it is that their actions deserve. That’s how they change.
KRISTIN: That is what my hope is for this person – that he is held accountable, because apparently my way of trying to hold him accountable, while I was suicidal and did develop mental illness around what happened, wasn’t enough accountability for him. I hope and I pray that he is held accountable. I absolutely do, not out of some kind of vengeance or revenge, just out of the fact that I don’t want any other woman, or man, to go through went through at the hands of him.
MELISSA: It’s awful!
MELANIE: Yeah, did Harvey Weinstein go to jail at all and get out on bond? Why didn’t they just go arrest this man? He’s being shipped off to rehab now, right?
KRISTIN: Oh, yes!
KRISTIN: Oh, absolutely. He’s being shipped off to, he has a…
MELANIE: Sex addiction.
KRISTIN: …sex addiction. Exactly.
MELISSA: Excuse me? He has sex addiction? That’s what we’re saying?
KRISTIN: That’s what the media is saying, and that’s what his excuse that we’ve read is that he’s off to a treatment center for sex addiction.
MELISSA: No! He is addicted to destroying people! This is not about sex. He loves to destroy people.
KRISTIN: Yep, and have power. And have power over them. I know that’s where many of my colleagues that we’ve interviewed on the show that do treat sex addiction, they are fuming that it is being used as an excuse for his abhorrent behavior.
MELANIE: Yeah, I mean for this many people to come out and the man has not been cuffed is – I think that speaks for itself, honestly.
KRISTIN: Yep. Well, I wanted to have this conversation, and I wanted to make sure, too, that – I haven’t heard people other than people that I would never call friends say, “Why do you keep talking about this?” No one has ever written in and said anything like that about the number of shows we’ve done where we’ve talked about these things. We’ve never heard anything like that. I’ve only heard it a couple of times, and again, from people that goodness their opinion matters not about pretty much anything. So, I will say this. We are going to keep talking about these things, and there is a reason that people talk about these things. I will talk about this for as long as I need to. It is not because I am stuck, or because I’m enjoying some kind of victim status. No! When you have a traumatic thing happen to you, you process it as you evolve as a human being. I didn’t have this revelation about the fact that it was the audacity of someone thinking that it was just okay to touch me and that they should be able to complain about what they did that they are admitting is wrong because they are complaining about it. I didn’t have that realization until this Harvey Weinstein stuff came out. and that is huge for me. That’s part of my healing. So, you’re damn right I’m going to keep fricking talking about this! I’m going to talk about it until I can’t talk anymore. (Which some people probably wish that would happen to my voice.)
MELANIE: Let me share, Kristin, you’ve heard me talk about Zeke and his wisdom. This is my sixteen-year-old son, and he’s sitting beside me in the car and he’s listening to us and he’s waving his hands to say, “Let me say something.”
KRISTIN: Say it, Zeke.
MELANIE: He’s out of the car now, but he said, “Push mute. Push mute.” Then he just looked at me and he said, “Punishment does not cure evil.” I asked him, “Well, what does?” He said, “God does.”
MELANIE: I said, “Okay. You’re right.” Punishment does not cure evil. Well, what does? God does.
MELISSA: That is profound.
MELANIE: That is a fact. He always says stuff like that, Melissa. I’m telling you we’ve got to get this kid on the show.
KRISTIN: That kid is just – he amazes me the things that – both of your sons – the things that come out of their – oh, Zeke is an old, old, old soul.
MELANIE: Yes. And he’s just like – there’s no question. He would argue that point until he was blue in the face. He’s just so assured about those things, you know? That makes me very proud.
KRISTIN: Absolutely. Well, look at who his momma is, so hello? Well, I want to first go to you, Melanie. Final words for today’s show?
MELANIE: I just gave mine.
KRISTIN: Okay, awesome! Melissa, how about you?
MELISSA: I think that Melanie’s son said it all. But I read a quote the other day that said kind of the exact same thing. We can talk about all the issues that exist in the world and raise awareness. We can talk about racism. We can talk about issues related to gender. We can talk about abuse and narcissism and sexual assault and all of those things. But until the hearts of men and women are changed, change doesn’t happen. And that’s an internal job. That’s an internal job. So, we as a society can change systemically to put parameters to limit the way and the ability that people have to act out what is in their heart. We can hold them liable – and we should. However, change is not going to happen unless there is a supernatural transaction internally. That’s where transformation begins. For me, that’s the most productive method. That’s the most productive thing to do – to share that truth, because that’s how societies change – when people are changed one by one.
KRISTIN: Amen! That is why we do what we do with our voices. This is why, Melissa, you have a show – The Clinical Christian. This is why Melanie has been on this show forever, same with you, Melissa, and why Melanie is finally having her own show that is coming out. Melanie, what’s the name of your podcast?
MELANIE: Memoirs of Madness.
KRISTIN: It’s going to be phenomenal because these are voices to be heard. We’re going to keep this going as long as I’m able to speak. And when I can’t for some reason I will have one of those little things where I go (in a robotic voice), “Hello, this is Kristin” because nothing is going to shut me up. (Not that I am making fun of anyone that has one of those. Please don’t get upset.) But seriously, we’ve got stuff to say. We acknowledge when we may be wrong. We may change our mind. We may think differently, evolve, and see something a different way. But man, what I love about Melissa and Melanie is right is right, and wrong is wrong. There is such a peace in that. I’m honored that you guys are not only my colleagues but such good friends.
MELANIE: Aww. We’re honored too.
MELISSA: Yes, very much.
KRISTIN: And thank you, of course, to our listeners for another addition of Mental Health News Radio.
Get ready for it listeners, because here it comes. Have a question? Visit us on MentalHealthNewsRadio.com or our network of podcasters at MHNRNetwork.com. Disruptors, healers, technologists, advocates, and most importantly voices to be heard from all corners of the globe. Thank you so much for joining us.
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