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I'm a sexual assault survivor. This is how you can help me feel safe in Trump's America.

After the election, this is what one sexual assault survivor wants you to know.

I'm a sexual assault survivor. This is how you can help me feel safe in Trump's America.

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?

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Canva

Prior to European colonization of North America, millions of bison roamed the Great Plains. By the turn of the 20th century, those numbers had dropped to less than 1,000. The deliberate decimation of buffalo herds was a direct attack on the Native American people, who colonizers saw as an obstacle to their "Manifest Destiny," and who the U.S. government engaged in a systematic attempt to eliminate or force into docile submission.

For thousands of years, bison were a sacred, inseparable part of life for Indigenous tribes of the Great Plains, used for food, shelter, utensils, and clothing, in addition to spiritual and emotional well-being. Wiping out the bison population nearly wiped out the Native tribes they were connected to.

Though bison numbers have increased significantly thanks to conservation efforts, governments are still grappling with the ugly legacy, and some municipalities are taking steps to try to repair some of the damage done. As one example, the city of Denver, Colorado has taken the step of giving some of the city's bison population managed by Denver Parks and Recreation to Native American tribes engaged in bison conservation efforts.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less