I could not find the words for many days. But I did find some.

Your words shape your world.

In light of the recent, explosive, and damning crisis concerning The Voice, where dozens of women have been brave and bold, sharing their stories of abuse, rape, feeling uncomfortable, unsafe….as a (communication) coach I’d like to make the following clear.
Crystal clear.

What causes abuse?
In this case, men.
Men cause abuse.

Not what the women were wearing.
Not what the women were doing.
Not what the women were saying.
Or not saying.

To make it absolutely clear- rape and abuse has one cause.
The person who did it.
Or tried it.

Rapists. Abusers. Predators.
Call them what you want but they are mostly men.
Men in power.
Who know it, use it, and abuse it.

This Voice crisis has affected people I deeply, deeply care about, both personally and professionally. I have been in communication with all of them and they know I am here for them 24/7. I took several days off social media as I was too filled with shock and sadness to find the right way to share what I was feeling.

Every single woman I know has experienced unwanted advances.
They come in many forms.

The handshake that is 3 seconds too long.
The hug where his hand is half on your lower back and half on your bottom.
The full-body contact when you’re pushing your chair in as you leave the table and they just happen to squeeze past you in that narrow lunchroom.
The stare you can feel when they think you’re not looking.
The comments about your clothes and what is underneath them.
The jokes about sex and how they look at you when they say the ‘punchline’.
The ‘can’t you take a joke’ response when you dare to roll your eyes.
The introductions that start with ‘Don’t you want private lessons from her?’

I’ve heard it all.
We all have.
I’m done.
So done.

So words matter.
Choose them well.
No one had sex with you.
They forced their body upon you.
You did nothing.
This is not your fault.
It never, ever is.

No matter what they say.
No matter what you said to yourself.
No matter what you didn’t say.
No matter what you wore.
No matter how you walked.

It’s them.
It’s not you.
You are not what has been brought upon you.
Even if you have been carrying it with you, in you, through you since you were a child.
I was 14.

I look at this picture and I see a woman who was so very, very proud to work for The Voice of Vlaanderen after they heard about my work for The Voice of Holland. This was taken in the studio after a fantastic day coaching new candidates in Belgium.

That same woman now is full of shame, shock, sadness.

I stand in solidarity with all my clients, with all women everywhere, who have been abused by words, by hands, by bodies, by a single touch, by society, by the media, by bosses who don’t know why they don’t speak up (after they have signed a contract explicitly stating that they are not allowed to discuss what happens on the show or risk a 10k fine).

Your words matter.
YOU matter.
The way you talk to yourself shows up in how you talk to the world.
Please know none of this is your fault.
None. Of. It.

Reach out.

Victim support NL: 0900-0101
Victim support BE: 1712
Victim support USA: 800.656.HOPE (4673)

I’ll write you again when I can.


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