TRIGGER WARNING: This article does discuss elements of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
The month of April is known as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, meaning during this month, we must do our part to acknowledge and put an end to sexual violence, especially against women. It is a known fact that women experience sexual assault and sexual harassment far too often in today’s society. Whether it be rape or catcalling, almost every woman I know has some kind of story to tell. However, most women would rather be treated as survivors rather than victims. Therefore, here is a list of some women to commend for their bravery in standing up against their abusers.
1. Chessy Prout
While attending St. Paul’s Boarding School, Chessy Prout was raped by one of the upperclassmen as a part of a misogynistic tradition known as the “senior salute.” This tradition was based on how many sexual conquests a senior boy could have. After the attack, Chessy reported the actions anonymously, but her identity was later revealed after internet trolls invaded her privacy and the school critiqued her anonymity. In her powerful memoir, I Have the Right To, Chessy discusses the brutal attack and relays the details of the harsh legal battle between her and both her attacker and St Paul’s School. Currently, Chessy still uses her voice and platform to help sexual assault survivors realize that they are not alone.
For more information about Chessy Prout check out: https://www.ihavetherightto.org/
2. Tarana Burke
Many people are aware of the Me Too Movement, but few know the woman who founded it. Tarana Burke originally created this movement to not only tell her own stories of sexual assault and harassment but to give other women a platform to tell their unique stories. Now, the movement has completely blown up, and many celebrities have used it to tell their stories of sexual violence.
To learn more about Tarana Burke and the Me Too Movement visit: https://metoomvmt.org/
The famous singer Kesha was never shy when it came to standing up against her abuser. While on a hiatus from music, the artist revealed that her lack of songs was due to being stuck working for her abusive producer, Dr. Luke. Kesha eventually sued him citing that he was physically, sexually, emotionally, and verbally abusive towards her throughout her career. After a long legal battle, Dr. Luke eventually left Sony Records and Kesha was able to release more music. It is rumored that her first song following the legal battle, “Praying,” was written about the abuse she received from Dr. Luke.
4. Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is known as one of the greatest poets and writers of this century. With that in mind, it is not shocking that she used her writing as an outlet for difficult times in her life. In her memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya describes the story of when she was raped as a child by her mother’s boyfriend. This heartbreaking tale goes even further when her assailant is found dead. Upon learning this information, young Maya goes completely mute for almost five years. This honest, raw account is truly phenomenal not only in the quality of writing but also in the message it portrays. This story of pain allows the audience to realize that sexual assault impacts everyone even when we do not know it.