What Me Too Founder Tarana Burke Taught Me About Healing


Me Too founder Tarana Burke speaking at the KU Memorial Union. Photo by Nicole Mitchell

By Nicole Mitchell

On October 23, 2018, I had the great privilege of seeing Me Too creator and activist Tarana Burke give a presentation at KU.

Burke was funny, relatable and, most of all, heartbreaking. That was the mixture of emotions that I felt while listening to everything she had to say, as she recalled her history of activism and how the Me Too movement began.

After graduating from Auburn University, Burke worked as a counselor for middle school girls. She recalled a tragic moment when a young girl described her story of experiencing sexual assault. Burke stopped the girl in the middle of her story and sent her to another counselor. After that, the young girl stopped coming to camp and Burke never saw her again.

Years later, after the many ups and downs of working with middle school girls and hearing all of their experiences with sexual assault at such a young age, Burke came up with the idea to start a new organization: Me Too.

Hearing Tarana Burke talk was more than learning the history of Me Too. It was learning how to listen to and care for others; learning how to feel joy, and it was learning how to heal.

Burke helped me realize that healing from a traumatic event is difficult and it isn’t pretty. Healing can be anything from waking up early and doing yoga to crying myself to sleep because that’s all I can do. One thing that helps Burke go through difficult experiences is to keep a “Joy Journal,” which is exactly what it sounds like. You write down all the things that make you happy, whether it be something small or something large, and it will help you realize that the pain doesn’t last forever.

If you are going through the healing process right now, know that you are not alone, and that you will be okay. I hear you and I believe you.

National sexual assault hotline: 1-800-656-4673