“Your left ear is the ear closest to your heart. And by listening with your heart, you can save someone even just a little bit.”
These words spoken by Dakota Johnson on each episode of her podcast The Left Ear, seemed like the best way to start this. It really nails down the intentions she had as she embarked on creating this safe space for survivors.
The Left Ear is a weekly podcast that features a compilation of voicemails left for Dakota that talk about that speakers experience with assault, sexual assault, harassment, etc.
It was initially aimed for women and girls but has quickly turned into a safe haven for everyone across the globe to discuss their experiences. No matter gender identity, socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, The Left Ear has already shined a light on the very real hardships survivors deal with on a daily basis.
With only three episodes out at the time of writing this,I can say the podcast is extremely emotional. You can hear the sadness and at times, indifference, in the voices of these women telling their stories.
The stories themselves come in all shapes and sizes. Some sound as if they’re venting, trying to finally get this weight off their chest. Others speak to spread awareness of tragedy such as the genocide in Cameroon at the hands of those who were supposed to protect them.
Many of those who have called in state that they have never told their story in full to anyone in their lives. While it’s comforting to know a space like this exists for anyone to tell their stories, it’s infuriating that until now, many don’t feel like they can even tell those closest to them.
The reasoning behind this choice is theirs and theirs alone. But it should be our job to create more safe spaces for survivors to speak.
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One year ago I asked women and girls around the world to call me and leave a voicemail telling their stories of sexual violence, harassment, and gender based inequalities. I didn’t want to speak on their behalf, I wanted to listen to them. This is The Left Ear. A podcast where you will find the voicemails I listened to. To protect anonymity the voices have been slightly pitched, and any identifiers have been removed. Other than that, they have not been edited. These are real stories from real people around the world. Listening to these stories can feel very intense. So please take care of yourself if choose to listen. And I hope you do choose to listen, because listening is the most important thing you can do for someone. In this podcast, I want to create a space where the listener is listening just as honestly and bravely as the speakers who had the courage to call. Your left ear is the ear closest to your heart. And by listening with your heart, you can save someone even just a little bit. The first episode is available now, and more to follow every Monday starting October 7th. For more information and resources visit the link above. All my love, D
What warmed my heart as I was listening, was the singular thread of unity that ran through each story we heard. Almost every woman in her own way threw out a lifeline for others listening.
Whether it was by simply stating that their reason for telling their story was to help others in similar situations. Or that if them coming forward with the masses of other survivors didn’t set forward a sea of change relating to how we handle sexual assault, then at the very least they wanted women to support other women.
What The Left Ear provides isn’t just a lifeline but a community of individuals connected by resilience and understanding. It created a space in which people hopefully know or soon discover that they are not alone.
I’m so sad on behalf of women. I’m so angry on behalf of women. I’m just so f**king done. Women are just really, really strong.”-anonymous woman on The Left Ear
If you’re ever wondering what you can do to help those dealing with assault in any form, start here. By simply listening and leaving your preconceived notions at the door, you may help that person disclosing to you. Because that first contact, and even the 100th, is important. How you or anyone listening reacts will determine whether or not a survivor tells someone else. Or how much they choose to tell.
I’m grateful that this podcast exists because it gives us very raw, emotional, tough to listen, accounts that showcase the very real effects these experiences have on survivors.
Listening to these accounts can be upsetting. If you choose to listen, and I really hope you do, make sure to take care of yourself.
You can listen to The Left Ear anywhere you listen to podcasts. If you have a story you’d like to share, you can call Dakota Johnson’s voicemail at +1(212)653-8806.
Cover image courtesy of Apple Podcasts
Also published on Medium.