Sexual violence is a real, pervasive problem in our culture. Every year, 237,868 people are sexually assaulted, according to anti-assault network RAINN. The stigma around being the victim of sexual assault compounds the problem. It’s hard to know where to turn. Many women elect to keep quiet rather than go through the wringer publicly.
But a new blog, spearheaded by Jezebel staff writer Lindy West, seeks to be a safe haven for women to tell their stories of harassment and assault. I Believe You It’s Not Your Fault is a repository for the stories of many women meant to act as a resource for victims, a way to break the endless cycle of shame and silence.
The blog grew out a conversation between a group of women writers on Facebook. It was sparked by a question posed by a mother whose daughter’s 12-year-old friend was sexually harassed but didn’t want to talk about it with her conservative parents. The idea is to explain the idea of rape culture, and to explain the perils of modern womanhood in an accessible, friendly way. “We’re just people who’ve been through stuff, and we’re here,” the introductory post proclaimed.
That might sound simple, but it is powerful. The blog immediately became an oasis in a media culture so often seething with misogyny and sexist stereotypes. It is a place where 42-year-olds and 16-year-olds can connect on their experiences with sexism, cat-calling, discrimination, and the myriad other tiny turmoils that women face in the world.
“These issues are so massive, entrenched, and seemingly immovable, they really breed a sense of hopelessness. So getting the chance to actually DO something — even if it’s as small as telling stories and answering questions — feels hugely comforting,” West said in an interview with Salon.
“We can talk candidly on the Internet, woman to woman, person to person, stranger to stranger,” she continued. “Like how you can tell things to your cool aunt or uncle or big sister that you can’t quite tell your mom. We want to fill that role as best we can.”
The fight against rape culture is a long, exhausting one. It can look hopeless. But having a place like this is encouraging because it reminds women who suffer from harassment or assault or violence a simple but important fact: You are not alone. There are people here for you.