I couldn’t have said it better myself. In his Presidential Proclamation for Sexual Assault Awareness month Obama says:
“Every day, women, men, and children across America suffer the pain and trauma of sexual assault. From verbal harassment and intimidation to molestation and rape, this crime occurs far too frequently, goes unreported far too often, and leaves long-lasting physical and emotional scars… Survivors too often suffer in silence because they fear further injury, are unwilling to experience further humiliation, or lack faith in the criminal justice system. This feeling of isolation, often compounded with suicidal feelings, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, only exacerbate victims’ sense of hopelessness.”
Kudos to Obama for highlighting the entire spectrum of sexual violence and including verbal harassment in the mix. Too often, people tell us that our work would be more powerful if we only focused on groping, public masturbation, and assault. But words hurt too. Especially if you hear them everyday, from every street corner. You’re not crazy to think that these words can turn physically violent at any moment. But even when they don’t, the emotional violence has already left its mark.
We have benefited from the women who came before us and made workplace harassment illegal and frowned upon. They did it by telling stories. Brave women came forward, and simply, but boldly, told their stories. Now it is our turn to do the same thing.
In honor of sexual assault awareness month, be bold, hollaback, and tell your story. Your story will build awareness. Your story will help others know they are not alone. Your story will squash the culture that makes sexual violence OK and open the doors for a world without sexual harassment or assault.
Your story will change the world. It is the only thing that ever has. Hollaback.