I'm Meredith and I set up Say it Loud after my own experience of sexual trauma in 2020.
After being raped in 2018, creating such a successful organisation that has helped over 500 individuals come to terms with their experiences, opened up multiple important conversations within institutions and has hit GP practices, university lectures and Oxford University psychologists - to say the least, Say it Loud is the best thing to have ever come from such an awful situation for me.
Unfortunately, though, greatness brings a lot of unwanted attention. Since creating Say it Loud, my personal inbox has slowly across the (nearly) two years of Say it Loud become filled with messages from perpetrators. Say it Loud is not only an organisation that aims to support survivors of sexual trauma, but also a free, easily accessible platform that provides education for the public to use as they please and save for later viewing; meaning multiple individuals have been able to educate themselves on what consent is in particular and what is considered a form of sexual violence. And yet, I have received multiple messages from men in which they have told me in detail what they have done to women and went on to state how grateful they are for Say it Loud as it has, and I quote "taught them to be a better man". The messages stink of guilt and I have almost filled the role of a priest for them to plead for forgiveness and to no longer be seen as a perpetrator no more.
I have also had a one-off experience in which a male lecturer confessed to me that he had in fact raped someone and was also, thankful for the work the team had been doing. The messages and the one-off conversation always leave me in an uncomfortable situation, an almost conflicting one. The activist in me seeks justice - I want people to know who these men are and what they have done, the survivor in me screams for things just to stop, for me to not report and everything will go away and then there's the final part of me (that I'm not sure what to call), that is almost proud that Say it Loud has been able to educate even perpetrators and maybe I'm doing the wrong thing, maybe I should be more forgiving, more open?
The conversations I have with these men usually go in one way and that is to my deleted inbox. I refuse to be part of a conversation in which perpetrators are calling for me to forgive them when in reality, I am not the one they should be apologising to or seeking forgiveness from. It calls for a conversation around whether perpetrators can truly be forgiven. Can perpetrators truly learn from their past horrific behaviours and go on to be reformed beings?