After the election, this is what one sexual assault survivor wants you to know.
Yesterday, I put on my makeshift pantsuit and cried happy tears as I made my way across state lines to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton.
But I didn’t just cast my vote for her, the woman who would’ve been our first female president. I cast my vote against Donald Trump, a man who has had multiple women come forward to levy assault allegations at him.
My candidate lost the election. But as a sexual assault survivor, I lost even more.
I spent most of last night comforting fellow survivors. They were having panic attacks in their rooms. They were driving aimlessly, afraid to go home. They were out with friends, dissociating.
I knew I was going to wake up to a different America, one full of people who confirmed my biggest fear with their votes.
This election confirmed what so many other groups now know: I am not protected. It is not safe to be a survivor of sexual assault in America.
With a few hundred electoral votes counted, I felt exactly as I had right after my assault: numb.
The silver lining in all of this is that when I was done crying and staring at the ceiling, I picked up my phone and saw dozens of texts from friends checking in from across the country. I knew I had people in my corner. That’s what got me out of bed this morning.
But it’s only Wednesday. The week is young. Our president-elect hasn’t even taken office yet.
So this is what I need from you right now: I need your endorsement.
No, I’m not staging a one-woman coup. This isn’t me begging for a recount, either. I’m asking for a do-over, but not a do-over election.
You’re voting in tiny yet profound ways every single day, and this matters. This is the do-over.
You vote when you laugh at a rape joke. You vote when you explain away an actor’s — or a candidate’s — history of violence against women. You vote when you refuse to step in when you see someone’s consent being violated. You vote when you ignore statistics that say we’re all around you, watching you, hoping you’ll do something to support us.
And with every vote, you’re endorsing either the survivor or the assailant. So what do I need from you? This week, I need you to ask yourself: “If I do this, if I vote like this, who will be in power? Will I be endorsing the survivor? Or will I be casting my vote for the assailant?”
Right now, even if you don’t know it, you’re surrounded by survivors who are afraid and struggling. They’re your coworkers and friends and family members and strangers, and they all have one thing in common: They’re waiting to see if they can trust you.
This week, I’m asking you to empower those who have had their power taken away.
We can’t change what happened last night, but you can help support survivors moving forward.
Speak out. Promote a crisis hotline. Donate to a local rape crisis organization. Make it clear that regardless of who is in the highest office in this land, you will do what it takes to support survivors.
If I can ask anything from you this week, it’s your endorsement. I need an ally. I need someone in my corner, someone who has my back. I need someone who will fight with me as we work to protect other people who are oppressed and scared, someone who will text me at 5 a.m., and call out awful rape jokes, and take care of me.
Can I count on you?
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