Silent No More! Women are telling their stories of sexual assault. The stories often trigger memories in other women. They feel invisible tears winding through a dark silence that may have lasted for decades. The pain has been too great to allow it to come into the light.

And men say of the stories they hear, “Why did it take so long to say something?”

They don’t know that women have held secrets for decades. A young girl gets fondled by a relative.  She’s been taught he’s a nice uncle, but something makes her feel uncomfortable. Confused about her feelings, she says nothing.

A teenager’s English teacher gives her a ride home after school.  He reaches over and kisses her on the mouth before leaving her off at home.  She runs into her house but never tells her parents or anyone else. She didn’t know how to explain what happened.

Another teen goes to a party, is given a spiked drink, becomes incapacitated. She is raped. She knows something bad has happened, but her memory is confused. She blames herself for not remembering clearly.  Ashamed, she tells no one.

Why the silence? Even very young girls absorb the notion that there are some things “we just don’t talk about.”  Sexual matters are dirty and shameful. As they get older, this lesson deepens. They doubt themselves. Their shame turns to fear when they see what happens to those who do share.  Many come to believe it is their lot in life that men are entitled to violate women’s bodies. We are told-explicitly and implicitly—that’s just the way the world is. We hear, “boys will be boys.”

Despite the silence, these memories gnaw at them. Some fight their way through the pain to reveal what happened only to find they are punished for having hidden it, while being reviled for telling it.

Yet, many women discover that their stories are believed by other women, who share similar memories. No longer do they have to live alone in silence.

Sharing can bring healing.

Together we can wipe away our years of shame.

Together we can break the chains of the past.

Together we will rise in solidarity!