Women break silence about sexual assault

Published 3:54 am Saturday, October 15, 2016

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”


Two local women are speaking out against sexual assault and nonchalant attitudes toward women who have experienced it.

1015-stop-sexual-assaultBoth Anactacia Myrick and Brittany McLaney know the tragedy of sexual assault, but have managed to move on with their lives. They said they weren’t bothered as much by Donald Trump’s remarks as they were by people’s reactions to women who have been assaulted.

“Women are being told we are weak because we feel uncomfortable,” Myrick said. “We are told we shouldn’t be offended by words. Instead of taking the time to use their platform for good, it’s being used to tear us apart.”

Both women said since they have taken a stand, more than 30 local sexual assault victims have reached out privately and shared their stories with them.

It’s these victims that have made them continue to speak out.

They all have one thing in common: It’s taken them a long time to realize being sexually assaulted wasn’t their fault.

Myrick said she struggled with being told it was her fault and was victim-shamed.

For her, old wounds were opened during the Brock Turner case.

Turner served three months behind bars a California jail after he was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

He was a former Stanford swimmer. The brevity of Turner’s sentence and the attitudes toward the crime bothered her.

“His career is more important than a woman’s mental health for the rest of her life,” she said.

“If you have never been in this situation, then it is hard to understand,” she said. “It’s not OK to tell us we are wrong.”

Myrick said she hopes that parents can begin to rear sons without the “boys will be boys” attitude.

“We’re raising someone else’s husband and father,” she said.

McLaney said there is a lack of a good mental health care for women who have gone through sexual assaults.

“You need to be able to talk to a non-anxious person,” she said.

What the women want is simple: People to stand up for those who have been assaulted rather than make them feel it’s their fault.

“It can happen to anyone,” Myrick said. “It takes great strength to speak up about sexual harassment and assault. I’m not doing this for personal attention. I’m doing this for your mother, sister, daughter, niece. I’m doing this for you. I am giving voice to women who live in fear; told they are at fault; It’s never our fault. Stop promoting rape culture. If this gives you courage to come forward, I have made a difference to someone.”

McLaney said also wants people to understand that their words hurt when they attempt to shame victims.

“In America, every 109 seconds a person is sexually assaulted,” shes aid. “This means that there are men and women—people we are all connected to—that have experienced this horrific personal violation. Often, survivors of sexual assault are made to feel as if the violation occurred because of something they did to provoke the attacker. It’s because a woman’s skirt was too short, or blouse was too low-cut, or a man acted effeminately. They were asking for it. We live in a culture that places the blame on the survivors of the assault, rather than holding the perpetrators responsible.

“When jokes or comments are made regarding a woman’s sexuality, we are re-victimizing these people who have suffered unbelievable acts of injustice,” McLaney said. “When we say nothing, we are effectively sending the message to people that it is perfectly acceptable to make rude, crude, and socially unacceptable comments about women.”