#MeToo: National movement encourages Heartland woman to share her story

A young Jamie Gulledge around the time of her abuse (courtesy: Jamie Gulledge)
A young Jamie Gulledge around the time of her abuse (courtesy: Jamie Gulledge)

ANNA, IL (KFVS) - "For 40-plus years I have not been able to do this. And I'm done. Enough."

Jamie Gulledge is finding the strength to speak out.

Thanks to the so-called Weinstein effect and the Me-too hashtag, Gulledge is joining women and men across the country speaking out about sexual harassment and abuse.

After posting about my own workplace harassment experience as a teenager Gulledge reached out, ready to finally share her story.

"I'm tired. I'm tired. I've spent too much time crying. It's....enough is enough."

The 48-year-old Union County native is ready to face the fear, the shame she's carried for four decades.

"I was seven, eight when this happened."

Jamie's abuse, she said, came at the hands of her step-father. It lasted a year. When her mother witnessed it for herself, she sent Jamie to live with her grandmother.

She said the headlines, the current climate in our country gives her the strength to finally find her voice.

"That helped me be able to talk because when it happens you feel like you're the only one, you know? And for other people to come forward and at so much of a level, then it's not just you."

"They want to say, well why come out now? Why do this? Because you're embarrassed. You have to deal with so much. And to listen to other people that it has happened to, you just wake up and enough. You're done."

When asked if it was starting to get easier now that she's made this decision, she said it is a little.

"It's good to talk about it. It really is," she said. "And you're still going to cry. And you're going to hurt and everything. But, it makes it easier."

Of all the hashtags and headlines out there, Jamie heard the one word she needed to hear.

"And that's speak. Just speak. Just talk. And a lot of people don't want to do that because of the position or whatever or embarrassment or anything. And I wish that I could have talked sooner."

When the movement started gaining momentum, Gulledge said she felt the flood of old memories.

"It brought back so much pain, so much hurt, and so much.....why couldn't I talk? Why couldn't I do this and that?"

Jamie said she was blaming herself every day.

She said there are friends and family who won't hear her story until right now.

While her mother knew what happened, Jamie said she could never talk about it. Their relationship suffered until her passing.

"Her dealing with divorce, alone. And then this. And she was embarrassed to talk to me, I think, more so than or as much as I was to her."

"Go to someone," she continued. "Talk about it. Get it off, you know, whoever it is that they can talk to. Because if you don't, believe me, it will destroy you. It really will."

"When you're put in that situation and you lose your trust, you don't trust anyone. You don't know who to go to."

Jamie wants to talk to other women...to help them as she continues her healing.

"If I can help one person, that's what I want to do because I would never wish this on anybody."

In the time we spent together, we watched her smile a bit more, cry a bit less.

"I just want to feel better. I want to get this off my chest. I want...I just want to end this chapter. That's it. I want to end the chapter."

The sheer act of speaking out, as Jamie is doing, can be an important part of the healing process, according to Licensed Professional Counselor Michael Hester.

"With trauma, the midbrain the emotional brain kinda gets stuck and it can't do it's a job," Hester explained. "So, it's extremely important that people process those things. And part of that may be talking about it in therapy, telling their story."

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