Empowerment

A Walkout for Justice: #BelieveSurvivors

You're not alone

Since the 2016 election, women have been taking a national stand to speak up about injustices committed against them. The nation watched as our sisters, wives, and best friends took to the street in waves of support. The #BelieveSurvivors walkouts on September 24 in protest of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination illustrates just how determined this sisterhood has become.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was the first accuser to step forward. She stated Kavanaugh attacked her while he was drunk, trying to take her clothes off when they were both teenagers at a party. Roughly a week and a half later, Deborah Ramirez came out and told the New Yorker that  Kavanaugh had exposed himself to her during their freshman year at Yale.

Republicans were quick to dismiss both women’s allegations as just another play by the democrats to block the nomination. They questioned why either woman would wait decades to come forward and claim that because they took this long, their allegations must be false.

Dr. Ford has even been called a liar and received death threats after coming forward with her story.

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Done waiting. Walking out at 1pm in solidarity with all survivors. I’ll just be walking out of my house. We do what we can, with what we have, where we are, as we are. And don’t for a second think that these small acts of love don’t matter. A man stood outside the white house with a single protest candle every night during the Vietnam war. A reporter came to him one night and said: Sir. Do you really believe your little protest will change anything? And he said: Oh, I don’t come here to change them. I come here so they don’t change me. I will not allow the steady maddening onslaught of insanity to wear down my humanity. I will keep knowing the truth and telling the truth. I will do my small part- every damn day- to stay human, to stay awake and tender- so the world does not wear away my humanity. Today, my small thing is to Wear black and walk out in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault. I see you. I believe you. I will fight for you. #BelieveSurvivors #timesup

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In support of not only Dr. Ford and Ramirez but other survivors as well, the #BelieveSurvivors walkout was planned. No matter if they were at home, at a dentist’s office or at work, women wore black and walked outside at 1 p.m.EST to show their support.

Yale Law students, Vanderbilt students, and celebrities participated in the massive walkout. #MeToo movement creator Tarana Burke also participated in the walkout which not only aimed to support women who have been silenced but to show politicians it’s time for a change.

The main portion of the walkout took place In Washington D.C. where protesters took to the Hart Senate Office Building. Powerful photos surfaced with protesters raising their fists, demanding that Kavanaugh’s nomination be rejected. The Washington D.C. city council even walked out to show their support of survivors.

Supporters of the walkout had a very simple message-

we believe Dr. Ford and Deborah Ramirez and anyone else who has been the victim of sexual assault. You are not alone.

Simultaneously the #WhyIDidntReport campaign grew legs on social media to try, yet again, to paint a picture of why they remained silent. The main reason many chose to stay silent was because they feared they would not be believed.

At a U.N. meeting President Trump questioned Dr. Fords credibility, asking how it was possible for someone to not report their assault for 36 years.

Here’s how that’s possible:

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that one in three women in the Unites States experience a form of sexual violence in their life. 63 percent of these attacks are never reported and even scarier- 90 percent of sexual assault victims who were assaulted on college campuses don’t report.

Imagine being in a room with two of your closest girlfriends. One of you has experienced a form of sexual assault.

There are so many facets to this social issue. Mainly the lack of support for women who come forward with their story. Our justice system is notoriously unfit to handle sexual assault cases properly.

Our society is more worried that a man who commits an illegal act will have their future ruined. Yet they have no regard for the woman whose life  was shattered as a result of that man’s actions. If politicians really want women to start coming forward, it’s time to stop protecting offenders and believe women.

If anyone commits an illegal act, they deserve the consequences. It’s time to stop worrying about someone’s future when they had no regard for it themselves when committing that act. This systematic dismissal of women is why we are in this spot in the first place.

Now more than ever, we have a chance to right a wrong. In 1991 Anita Hill came forward and accused then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual assault. In a Senate hearing, similar to the one Dr. Ford will be subject to soon, Hill outlined the many ways he sexually assaulted her.

Despite her allegations, Thomas was confirmed and sits on the Supreme Court to this day. Support of the #BelieveSurvivors walkout is so important so we start seeing change. We can’t repeat this mistake again. Blocking Kavanaugh’s nomination will be the first, overdue, message to men that they can and will be held accountable for their actions.

To any women who have been sexually assaulted- we hear you, we believe you, and we support you.

 

Cover image via Aljazeera

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Also published on Medium.

Davyn is a journalism student at Arizona State University. During her free...