I was invited to speak at Wrap Around the Capitol, an annual event sponsored by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is what I chose to say:
Thank you to WCASA for sponsoring this wonderful event and for inviting me to share a few words with you today.
We are here today and we are using denim as a symbol because several years ago a sexual assault conviction was overturned by a panel of judges in Italy. The judges believed that a rape victim must have consented to the encounter. They said her jeans were so tight that the man who assaulted her could not have gotten them off without her assistance. Let that sink in for a moment. The judges believed that a rape victim consented to and assisted in her own rape. This is the type of victim blaming that we see every day across this country and across this world. It is not acceptable.
The questions should not be why were you wearing that, why did you drink so much, why did you let him, but why do we live in a place in which those kinds of questions are even asked? Why do we live in a society in which the victim is all-too-often blamed and the perpetrator walks? Why do we live in a world in which there is tacit acceptance of the right to violate the bodies of others? Why do we question the person who was assaulted and never ask why anyone thinks it’s okay to do anything to someone else’s body without their consent?
This is my body; no one has a right to it without my okay. No one. Ever. Period.
I am here today as a survivor of nearly eight years of child sex abuse. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t want it. I didn’t enjoy it. And I am not to blame for the sickness of others. I am here today because I am working to ensure that what happened to me and to that woman in Italy doesn’t happen to anyone else. No one. Ever.
I am here to raise my voice so that those who work inside the Capitol will hear me roar, will hear you roar, and will do what they can to ensure that sexual violence ends. Recently they passed the victim accompaniment bill, which was a great step forward. But they failed to pass Erin’s Law. They failed again to pass the Child Victims’ Act. They failed to hear our voices in all their diversity and fullness. There is more work to be done and we need to let them know that we will not rest until they finally do hear our voices and act upon it. We will not rest until there are no more victims of sexual assault. No more. Ever.
Thank you again for coming. Wishing all of you the best, in peace and love.