I Believe Survivors

I am a proud American citizen. I believe in democracy. I believe in respecting women. I do not mock survivors of sexual assault. I do not disregard women or minorities or my country’s neighbors. I welcome people around the world who seek asylum. I support queer people. I believe in equality and equity. I believe in honor, loyalty, freedom, truth, and justice. These are my American values.

 

I am struggling with my country, but I am trying to maintain perspective and remind myself of the good that exists. There are incredible people and leaders in our midst, and I hope that true neutrality persists in the Supreme Court given its newest judge. I am ashamed that the President of the United States makes light of issues as serious as sexual assault and equality for women (among countless other things, that would take for too long to get into here). Donald Trump is not my president. He does not uphold my American values. I was thus not surprised at his Supreme Court nomination. I am shocked that the country allowed yet another judge onto the Supreme Court who has been accused of sexual assault.

 

Image courtesy of Jerry Keisewetter

 

I am incredibly fortunate to say that I have not been sexually assaulted. The threat is still there, however, as 1 in 4 to 1 in 6 women are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives (this doesn’t even bring to light the men who are also sexually assaulted). I support such individuals no matter how they decide to proceed because I believe survivors and am here for anyone who needs to talk.

 

I am genuinely concerned that people would not believe me if I ever was assaulted. I don’t want people to ask how I got to the scene or left it (of course I wouldn’t remember all of the surrounding details of the incident, but actual traumatic events are incredibly memorable), why I didn’t immediately come forward, why I didn’t want others to know, whether I’m on medication or in therapy, whether I’m absolutely sure I’m not mistaken, or to talk about the statement ‘boys will be boys’ (um...what?!). I wonder how anyone can be confused about why some individuals choose not to come forward when the process is so long, strenuous, vulnerable and often makes survivors feel as if no one believes them. They must face their perpetrator and tell complete strangers what they have gone through. It is not a light decision to come forward, which further adds to my conviction, I believe survivors.

 

Image courtesy of Kayla Velasquez

 

Women too often have decisions made for and about them by men. It doesn’t matter what she wore or if he was intoxicated. My body is mine. I recently saw an image of a balance scale; on one side is a bunch of phrases reading “she said” while the other side, which is weighed down, is a single “he said.” Things like the Me Too movement have definitely helped shape our culture for the better and move us away from patriarchal advantages, but some still (clearly) persist. Women shouldn’t have to be afraid to come forward, to fear that people won’t believe their story, or that men will easily drown out their voices.

 

Take Roe v. Wade, for instance. I am genuinely afraid of what could happen if this is overturned. I am terrified that someone--some white male far removed from my life and the lives of women--might try and control my body. I don’t agree with abortion personally, but it should not be up to a select few individuals to tell women what to do with their bodies.

 

My body is mine. My story is mine to share. I believe yours.

 

Image courtesy of Jose Moreno