The shock that materializes at the realization that someone close to you has been raped or sexually assaulted shatters reality and questions whether there is actually good in the world.
When I was in college, only five years ago, Title IX and campus sexual assault were never discussed. Today, Title IX has been catapulted to the forefront of our national conscience by the epidemic of campus sexual violence across the country.
It means so much when voices come together to talk about sexual assault. As an activist, it's one of my favorite times of the year. It makes me wonder about what the world would look like if every month were April.
A rape survivor myself, I wasn't so furious. In fact, I found it telling that Cersei Lannister could still be subjected to rape at the hand(s) of her own brother and former lover. Personally, I think that's a potent statement from the show's creators, reminding us that sexual assault can affect anyone regardless of how high you sit in a fictional society or in the real world.
In the two years of working on Project Unbreakable, I never allowed myself to break. I focused on only giving others a voice. I didn't realize I had allowed my family anguish -- and myself -- to silence my own.
When it comes to rape culture and manifestations of sexual violence against women, as people of color, we find ourselves at the forefront of this plague.
I nurture in my daughter a terrible mixed message: one, that she has full sexual self-ownership, and two, that the specter of violence ultimately robs her of sexual self-ownership.
I asked males in the audience how they defined manhood. A lot of the usual terms came up like "provider" and "strong" and "responsibility." I responded those words could also apply to my single mother and most women I know.
Most importantly, the results from these surveys would provide the Holy Grail of rape-related data -- some real sense for the percentage of unreported assaults. We would finally have access to the experiences of those raped women and men who are unwilling to come forward due to legitimate fear of dismissal and shaming.
My therapist probably doesn't want me to write this. When you're trying to heal, it's not particularly healthy to reopen the wound. I'm not writing this because it's healthy; I'm writing because I need to stop hiding.
Sexual violence has always been racialized (as well as gender-biased), and there is no one narrative that can fully capture the diversity of experiences. I reject the idea that there is a "universal womanhood" and universal experiences that all women share.
Last week saw two media flare-ups related to how we think and talk about rape. The first erupted over a statement made by Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) to the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault.
Ending sexual assault is not a "women's issue," and until we change our thinking to include everyone in the effort, we won't begin to see a significant decline in this form of violence. This move toward a more inclusive community approach has gained traction in the last decade, a trend I've noticed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
One in three women globally has suffered intimate partner violence including physical and sexual attacks. Nine out of 10 rape victims in the world are female.
Silence is the best protection from the deep sting of a negative response. But tragically, silence is also the greatest weapon of those who make the choice to rape us.
People like to talk about sex, but talking about rape is a lot harder. For the past year and a half, I've been making a documentary on rape, so I've gotten some practice.