#BelieveSurvivors

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We all know that the media is drawing huge attention to the sexual assault claims from Hollywood actresses and actors, but is it drawing any attention to the sexual violence faced by everyday women? While celebrity involvement is great for reaching a large audience and gives an extensive platform, how many everyday women are truly getting to say their piece? Oprah Winfrey delivered a beautiful speech at the Golden Globes this year in which she gave credit to the women who will never be able to tell their story - the women who have suffered in silence for years on end following the trauma they endured.


When she took the stage to receive the Cecil B. DeMille award at the 2018 Golden Globes, she stated, “They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farmworkers; they are working in factories, and they work in restaurants, and they’re in academia and engineering and medicine and science; they’re part of the world of tech and politics and business; they’re our athletes in the Olympics, and they’re our soldiers in the military.”


My mother is one of them. While the #MeToo movement grew, my mother sat me down and told me her story. When she was in college, she was taken advantage of in a drunken state. She was locked in a frat house room by some guy who thought it was his right to get what he wanted from a young, vulnerable girl who could not defend herself. She kept it to herself for many years and did not feel comfortable to share it with anyone until now. It was, sadly, not the only time someone decided to take what wasn’t theirs from her. She wanted me to know her story so, as a college junior, I would be extra careful about what I do and who I am with in order to avoid the pain she has suffered for over 20 years. The world will never know her story, they will never know what she endured. Maybe that's a good thing, and maybe it's not, but I know that her telling me gave her some sort of peace.


There are so many women like her. It is a shame that there is not a strong enough platform for the everyday blue- and white-collar woman to tell her story without fear of retaliation, loss of a job, ostracisation from social groups, and the fear of no one believing. Why is that? People always ask women why they don't just report these incidents. I can tell you at least one: the amount of times nothing ever happens for them, those situations in which they are not protected. There are women who have no guarantee that they will not lose their jobs because someone higher up decides that these women do not understand what happened them or that they know better than the person who experienced it.


Let’s get real about this. Look at Christine Blasey Ford. What did she get from her testimony against now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh? The testimony she did not even want to give in the first place.  The few that believed her were not enough and the world decided before she even had a chance to tell her story that she was not credible. These women deserve better, and the way we as a country respond to them. Whether they are walking down the red carpet or downtown on the College of Charleston campus, let us remember that, before we turn towards hate, we must reflect on the past and decide within ourselves to do better going into the future.


If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual assault and would like help, listed below are some organizations in Charleston that are available to you.


People against Rape (PAR) http://www.peopleagainstrape.org

South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA)

http://www.sccadvasa.org


Article by Anna Jacksa