As new victims emerge and speak out against the latest Hollywood example of abuse of power and sexual assault of countless women, we must not forget that this happens in our own community. We cannot remain silent on traumatic issues that impact all of us.
Standing together to support the local agencies and tireless advocates that work every day to provide advocacy, counseling, support, shelter and hope should be our priority. In addition, the survivors that continue to tell their stories deserve to be heard and not silenced. We can’t become numb to sexual assault and find ourselves continuing to blame victims instead of standing firm on the message to end this behavior.
We must also acknowledge that violence against women is still a major social issue in our community. Women know all too well from school age to a college campus, to the heckling on a street, to the inappropriate workplace that we continue to message to each other and to our daughters and sisters to “be careful around him.”
We should not expect to have our male coworkers or supervisors subtly or overtly engage in inappropriate behavior. We should not expect our counselors, spiritual leaders, educators and mentors to cross the line. Instead we should feel supported, respected and valued.
Local women have made amazing contributions to our schools, businesses, not-for-profit agencies, government, religious organizations and homes, and many of these great women have been victims. Many women will never feel empowered enough to speak up, so it is up to all of us to be a voice.
Get involved by advocating locally, donating your time, providing financial support or simply interrupting inappropriate sexual comments in the workplace. We all have a role to play to end violence against women.
Rachel Joy, Decatur