Em-URGE-ing Voices

Your urgent thoughts, urging action


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December 15, 2017

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This year has allowed a surge of sexual assault stories to surface and finally see the light of day, after years of silence. With not only the horrific actions of Harvey Weinstein, many other victims have shared their stories in confidence and solidarity with the public. The #MeToo hashtag has provided a breeding ground to showcase how often sexual assault actually happens and more importantly, how often it goes unnoticed.  Harvey Weinstein has further proved that sexual assault in Hollywood has been going on for years, with many people turning a blind eye or suffering in silence.

 Yesterday, The New York Times released a heart-wrenching op-ed piece by Salma Hayek. Known for her incredible work in several films, in this piece Hayek focuses on Frida, carefully fleshing out a detailed account on why Harvey Weinstein is her monster, too. She courageously shares a very vulnerable and traumatizing story in her life, a story that she initially felt sharing would not make a difference, especially amidst all of the stories already publicized.

 But Hayek’s timing is arguably even more crucial: sharing of sexual assault stories should not have a deadline. There is no expiration date for telling your truth, and other people telling theirs doesn’t ever make your story any less important or true. What happened to you is real.

Salma’s story is still as real, valid, and courageous as all of the other victims who came forward when the allegations against Weinstein first surfaced. And while, coming forward doesn’t always have to be the path sexual assault survivors take,  it can be an extremely liberating one. It lets you know that when you are ready, there will always be people who will hear you.

The past doesn’t erase what’s happened, nor does it invalidate our experiences or make anything less real. The past is set in stone and the only thing that changes is our perception of it, which we can either confront publicly in confidence and solidarity with others or confront within the sanctuary ourselves. Either option is viable and either option is valid. But neither option has an expiration date. This cannot be stressed enough.

In her piece, Salma talks about how much she questioned herself as an artist as a result of Weinstein’s actions. She was led to believe she was a nobody and that she deserved the treatment she received. She did not deserve what happened to her. She did not deserve that pain. No one ever does, and perhaps the worst assumption is that any apology could ever be pivotal enough to ever remove the trauma left behind.

While the pain may never fully leave you, it will always be your choice to decide how and when you want to make peace with it.

The best thing we can do for sexual assault survivors is believe them. Because not taking a side, is taking a side. As we move into the next year, let that be the one thing that guides us towards a more embracing atmosphere surrounding sexual assault, in order to let those we haven’t heard know their stories, shared or not, are just as valid. Rather than an accusatory, suspicious energy, let us foster a more loving attitude towards sexual assault survivors, and allow them the space to heal in the ways that make the most sense to them.

Salma, we want you to know that we hear you, we see you, and we believe you.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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