“#If only I could save you. #If only I could help you remove that weight from your tired shoulders and become the joy of an unburdened you. My prayer for all survivors of sexual assault. I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. #MeToo”

Alyssa MilanoActress + Feminist Activist

In October 2017, the #MeToo movement went viral. Women in mass numbers bravely took to social media to speak out about the abuse of power, sexual harassment and assault they’ve endured their entire lives. Women no longer stood down and caused a widespread and fierce movement both nationally and globally.

Like clockwork, just one year later, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing has intensely impacted the world and women everywhere are triggered. The National Sexual Assault Hotline double their average Thursday after Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh’s testimonies and the Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline numbers tripled.

But women are not just triggered they are angry, motivated and ready to fight…

These men are wholly uninterested and unmoved by this woman’s words…Dr. Ford has to talk about the worst trauma of her life in front of them. This is the reality of being survivor of sexual assault in this country. #WeBelieveDrFord #WeBelieveSurvivors #metooMVMT

Tarana BurkeFounder of the #MeToo Movement

Give me the Facts:

No matter how you’re feeling about the Ford Vs Kavanaugh case, let’s get some facts straight. National statistics from the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center report:

  • 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
  • Only 2% of sexual assault accusations reported to police turn out to be false. This is the same rate of false reporting as other types of violent crime.
  • 43% of victims did not report because they thought that nothing could be done, 27% thought it was a private matter, 12% were afraid of the police response, and 12% felt it was not important enough to report.
  • The majority of assaults occur in places ordinarily thought to be safe, such as homes and offices.
  • Sexual assault is often motivated by hostility, power and control, not sexual desire.
  • Sexual offenders are “ordinary” and “normal” individuals who come from all walks of life. People who commit sexual assaults are not obviously creepy, abnormal perverts or people who could be easily identified and avoided.

Women have been sexualized their entire lives. Society puts women on a pedestal as goddesses and disparages them at the same time, sometimes simultaneously. Sadly, women are physically and emotionally vulnerable solely because of their gender. The sense of vigilance and suspicion that understandably develops interferes with their relationships with their bodies, sexuality, self-esteem and within their romantic relationships. Today, more than ever, it’s time for change.

Women – It is your responsibility to

  1. Support your fellow sisters in their fight to have self-worth, positive body imagine, confidence, sexual freedom, pride in their sexuality, and independence. Fighting sexual harassment means helping women not just punishing men.
  2. Have a Voice. When harassment or assault occur it is your duty to provide a voice when those we love can’t bear to confront the reality of being sexualized, scrutinized for our bodies or taken advantage of. This includes a voice of emotional support as well as support to aid in your fellow sister’s reporting and coming out.
  3. Get yourself, or your loved one, into counseling to work on your relationship with yourself, your body and your sexuality. The best ammo we can have is feeling strong and powerful mentally, emotionally and physically. Survivors of sexual assault struggle with shame, terror, guilt, depression, anxiety, PTSD and detachment from their bodies. Starting counseling can be scary but it helps.
  4. Get out and vote. ‘Nuff said.

Men – It is your responsibility to

Check your privileges.

Examine your own life and the ways in which you may have accidently caused women in your life to feel uncomfortable. Or how you talk about women when they’re not around. How does this perpetuate women being sexualized, scrutinized or treated as objects?

Think about all the things you have to do each day to protect yourself from sexual assault. Then consider what women do on a daily basis: carry Mace, park in well-light areas, don’t jog at night, don’t jog with headphones, don’t go into an elevator alone with a man, don’t take the first floor apartment, be careful not to drink too much, hold keys as a weapon when walking alone, don’t make eye contact with men on street, make assertive eye contact with men on the street…

  1. No longer turn a blind eye; stop being a bystander. “A man’s legitimacy as an ally to women is only fully expressed when he is an intentional exemplar and fierce watchdog for the behavior of other men.” – Courtney Connley, CNBC
  2. Talk to the women in your life. It is your responsibility to talk to the women in your life as the ubiquity of these issues are clear. Ask if this has happened to them and what happened. Listen, empathize, ask how you can help.
  3. Make sure your romantic partner feels safe and comfortable with the way you make her feel desired, the way you touch her, or the way you initiate or have sex.
  4. Participate in the social media campaign with #HowIWillChange

Conversation, education and activism towards changing the culture of treatment towards women, sexual harassment and assault is upon us. Women and survivors everywhere are ready to set the world on fire with truth. They are ready for change. Together with bravery, strength and unity a fierce movement is upon us. Silent women will be no more. #WeBelieveYou

Ilene Kastel, M.A., LCPCNext Step Founder