I Am a Survivor of Sexual Assault

I am a survivor of sexual assault. I am a mother. I am a taxpayer who wants to see my tax dollars go to help my fellow human beings not to line the pockets of the wealthy. I worked for many years in the helping fields where I treated abused women and children. I am sick of the patriarchal bull that perpetuates violence, undervalues the contributions of women and minorities. I am a Catholic who has seen the word bastardized and twisted to support oppressive laws when we should be keeping a firm separation of church and state. I am sick in my heart at the injustice rape victims, abuse victims, and people of color face in our legal system, especially when the perpetrators are white males.

Marching in Spirit for Equality

I was unable to attend the march, but it still meant a lot to me! I am a young, white woman, who has not had that bad of a life. I marched in spirit for those who have not had the fortunate life I have. While I may not have health insurance and I may be middle class, I am still better off than so many other women are. I don’t have to deal with not receiving services because of the color of my skin or the income that I make. Those who do not have fortune like many of us are the reasons we need to march! I do however fight everyday to bring education, prevention, and intervention to those who have been affected by Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. We must protect women’s rights and keep fighting for more equality!

I Marched for Women’s Rights

Say what you want, but women are not treated equally.

I’ll never forget times I’ve learned (twice now) that a male coworker who had less experience than me made more money than I did.

Or when I took a 12-week unpaid maternity leave after having my son and my boss snarkily referred to it as a vacation when I returned.

Or when I was roofied at a bar by a friend of a friend and was almost assaulted.

Or when men speak over me during meetings.

Or when my ideas aren’t taken seriously.

Or when I’ve had to ask a male coworker to present an idea for me because I knew it would be given more merit simply because it was coming from “one of the guys”.

Or when I’ve been labeled as aggressive and bitchy at work for behaviors that would be labeled as leadership if they came from a man.

Or when teachers, professors, and bosses have hit on me and put me in uncomfortable, inappropriate situations and suggested I would “benefit” in some way if I compromised my integrity.

Or when my ass was grabbed while waitressing.

Or when I walk somewhere alone at night with my keys between my fingers like Wolverine and have to be hyper vigilant due to the danger of being assaulted.

Or when people I work with don’t think I can excel at my job because I am the mother of 2 young children.

I could list every transgression I’ve suffered, but that’s not the point. I will be the first to admit that I have had a privileged life. Many more women have suffered and endured far more than I could ever imagine.

Until women are truly, unequivocally equal, we will continue to fight for these rights. THAT, is why we marched!

“My rights don’t matter unless everyone’s rights matter”

I marched because I will not contribute to normalizing a man and his political party who have spread hate…for women, for minorities, for disabled, for sexual assault survivors, for people whose religion doesn’t match their own. It is not normal and it will never be normal.

I marched because I have three little nieces who deserve to grow up in a world where women are treated equally and whose sex can’t be used as a “pre-existing condition.” Girls who deserve to see powerful women running the world.

I marched because I refuse to accept that it’s okay for men to consistently beat out women who are more qualified than them for professional positions.

I marched because joking about and/or participating in sexual harassment, sexual assault, and abuse should NEVER be okay and should be disqualifying for someone in the highest office.

I marched because I will never side with people who support spreading hate to people because of their race, religion or sexual orientation.

I marched for all my LGBT friends who are scared that their right to get married will be taken away from them and that they will be allowed to be discriminated against for who they love.

I marched because it is 2017 and making fun of disabled people by a man who has had 70 years to learn that that is not acceptable is NOT OKAY.

I marched because I’ve spent an entire year dedicated to helping refugees from around the world who are escaping for their lives…From the month I spent volunteering in Lesvos, Greece, to welcoming a refugee family into their new home in Lincoln last month. I will never give in to fearmongering and xenophobia. I will never back down from supporting their human rights.

I marched because neutrality helps the oppressor, never the oppressed.

I marched because my rights don’t matter unless everyone’s rights matter.

Equal rights and protections for all people

I marched for my two sons (and I marched alongside my older son), so they know the strength of collective action and understand the importance of equal rights and protections for all people.  I marched for my mother, whose reproductive health has been supported by Planned Parenthood and other organizations over several decades, and who taught me to stand up for what I believe.  I marched for my sister, who serves in the armed services and faces sexism and harassment by men who are supposed to be her comrades.  I marched for my students, to protest sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus, and to support their ongoing right to an open, equal, and scientifically-based education.  I marched to show my support for family planning funding; for immigrants’ rights and protections; for full equality for LGBTQ individuals; for people of color who still face both subtle and overt forms of discrimination in many areas of their lives; for women who face discrimination in education, employment, reproductive health, breastfeeding, childrearing (or choosing not to have children at all), and even while walking down the street as they are subjected–as I myself have been–to harassment and fear of assault.  I marched to support the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid, to provide necessary health coverage for all individuals regardless of preexisting conditions, income, age, and other characteristics.  I marched for reasonable gun control to keep our schools and public spaces safe, and because no child should be afraid to go to school or be distracted by the presence of guns in their schools.  I marched because I love the State of Nebraska, I love my community, and I love my country.  I marched because I believe in the promises made throughout our history of freedom, equality, justice, and protection from persecution and harm, and I believe our future can be more civil, more equal, more welcoming, more supportive, and more forward-looking than our present.  I believe in the Nebraska state motto: “Equality before the law.”  Let’s get to work achieving that equality.

Stand up for justice and truth

I asked myself and others “why march?” many times before actually deciding to do it. After the election I was shocked, upset, disconnected, angry, sad and just generally overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed. A march sounded good. But I wasn’t sure it would address the responsibility I felt to my children, my family, my community and my country to address the consequences of the presidential election. I wanted to stand up for justice and truth – but I wasn’t sure if a march would make a lasting difference. Marching might make me feel better, but would my energy and effort be better spent elsewhere? Ultimately I decided to march. I marched because I believe it is important to treat all people with respect. I believe in the Constitution and the freedoms that come with it. I care about people with disabilities. I marched for the many women in our country who know first-hand about sexual assault and sexual harassment, and specifically for those women who bravely told their truths during the election for the entire world to hear and then watched as their country elected him anyway. I marched because I believe immigrants and refugees have made and will continue to make our country strong. I marched because I want my elected officials to know that I value equal rights for ALL. I marched because I am worried about how the policies of the new administration will impact healthcare, the rights of the LGBT community, women, immigrants, the environment and education. I marched because I’m scared and because I care deeply. Now more than ever I want to be an active and engaged citizen. For me that means marching, writing my elected officials, praying, thinking, reading, and staying engaged. I commit to all that. And I will never again think twice again about marching. It was one of the more positive, cathartic, and energizing things I have done.