Columnists pleads for advocacy of sexual violence survivor


sexual assault 5/2

Mary Ross and Mary Ross

When Tarana Burke mentioned that 75% of the girls in her program spoke about their experiences with sexual violence in their life, I felt a sense of unity, a sense that I wasn’t alone, yet also a brokenness that I’m not sure can ever be remedied. 75% of the girls she worked with in a program experienced sexual violence. 75%. That is three out of every four girls.

When Gloria Steinem mentioned in her essay entitled “The Real Linda Lovelace” that men began taking their female significant others to see showings of Deep Throat to show how they wish to be pleased, shockwaves of horror and disgust shot up and down my body.

When I watched Halsey give her heart-wrenching speech about sexual violence for the first time, I started bawling because every single one of her words are accompanied with pain, heartbreak and a fervor to show that pain and heartbreak.

When I recall a past relationship with a boy who did things to me that classify me as a sexual assault survivor, I become paralyzed with fear that I let that happen. When I recall a party I attended when a boy couldn’t keep his hands off me, despite my protests, and followed me to the bathroom when I tried to get away from him, I am reminded of a reason as to why I don’t go out any more.

These are just four anecdotes of the widespread issue of sexual violence.

And if all of that doesn’t make you angry enough to start standing up against sexual violence and start advocating for survivors, then you are a part of the problem. Being a part of the problem is falling silent to issues. Being a part of the problem is ignoring the facts and ignoring the reality of what is going on in the world. Being part of the problem is using privilege to overpower marginalized groups and allowing for horrific actions to take place.

Being a part of the problem allows each problem to grow. And grow. And grow.

We have stayed silent about sexual violence for too long. We have let so many women enter a world of emotional, physical and unimaginable pain. And yet, it’s not unimaginable because so many women are sexual assault survivors. Mothers. Daughters. Sisters. Aunts. Cousins. Grandmothers. Friends. Coworkers. Teachers. Doctors. Performers. Athletes. Women.

And it doesn’t stop there. Young boys have been and most likely continue to be raped by clergymen. Men in prisons rape their fellow prisoners many times for the feelings of power, not due to sexual attraction. Those two examples lend to the widespread problem of sexual violence across all demographics.

When is it enough? When will the number of sexual assault survivors and victims be high enough to warrant the need to overthrow the system?  For me, it was enough after one person, the first person this happened to probably around the dawn of humanity. When will it be enough for you?