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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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Mom comes out to her 7-year-old as a sexual assault survivor. The discomfort was worth it.

Sometimes speaking our truth can help history from repeating itself.

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Almost all the important conversations are uncomfortable

Sarah Shanley Hope's story is frighteningly common.

As a kid, she went over to her neighbor's house one day to play with her best friend. While there, her friend's older brother sexually assaulted both of them.

Hope was only 6 years old.


Being so young, she didn't know how to verbalize what happened or how to process it. She carried the pain with her for years, until she had daughters of her own.

two women hugging each otherPhoto by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

She told her own girls from the beginning, "You're in charge of your body." But at times, the message seemed to ring hollow.

Mostly, Hope recalls her older daughter, now 8, rolling her eyes, having heard the refrain so many times before: "There goes mom being overprotective, again."

But one day Hope got a call from school. A boy in the class had been caught inappropriately touching some of the girls. Her own daughter had even had a run-in with him.

"He kept hanging on me even after I said 'stop'! It was so annoying," Hope recalls her daughter saying.

Hope decided that, finally, it was time to tell her daughter her own story — her own "Me Too" moment.

"I finally said, honey, the reason I'm paying such close attention to this is that mommy had an experience when I was a kid, where someone did something to my body that wasn't OK."

"I don’t want you to feel badly inside like I did," she continued, according to her impassioned post on Medium. "I want you to know that we can always talk about the hard and confusing stuff.”

An uncomfortable but, sadly, necessary conversation. You can watch what happens next in the video below:

Why She Told Her 7-Year-Old Daughter About Her Own MeToo Story?

7 might seem like a very young age to tackle such a weighty conversation. But it might be necessary even earlier than that.

The National Center for Victims of Crime estimates that 20% of women (and 5-10% of men) recall an incident of sexual abuse as a child, with kids between 7 and 13 being the most vulnerable.

Those are horrifying statistics for any parent, so horrifying that we might wish we could be with our kids every second of the day to protect them from the horrors of the world. But we can't.

The best we can do is make sure they are aware of the danger and armed with knowledge about what to do if they need help. That includes direct talks — like the ones Hope has had with her kids — and modeling proper boundaries in our own lives.

In Hope's case, sharing her story has triggered a wave of positive change in her own community. She says several of her parent friends have called her recently for advice about how to have these conversations with their kids of all ages. And that's definitely something we need more of.

"We can’t undo the harm," Hope writes. "What we can do is choose discomfort over hiding from the pain — or worse, repeating it."


This story originally appeared on 01.26.18

via Wikimedia Commons

Seth Rogen and James Franco have made some of the funniest and most popular films over the past two decades. The two have starred alongside each other in comedies such as "The Interview," "Sausage Party," "Pineapple Express," and "This is the End."

However, the two haven't worked together since 2017's "The Disaster Artist" and, according to Rogen, a lot of it has to do with the sexual misconduct allegations made against Franco.

In 2014, Franco was accused of soliciting a 17-year-old girl on Instagram. After the teenager revealed her age, Franco still pursued her asking, "You're single? What's the hotel? Should I rent a room?"



via Instagram

Since the first allegation, five more women came forward in 2018. They were inspired to share their stories after he wore a "Time's Up" pin at the Academy Awards. The five of the women accused Franco of inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior. Four of them were students at his now-defunct acting studio and another claimed Franco was her mentor.

At the time, Franco denied the accusations but applauded the women for speaking up which many called out as a hypocritical attempt to have things both ways.

"The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice because they didn't have a voice for so long. So, I don't want to shut them down in any way. It's a good thing and I support it," Franco said.

Earlier this year, Franco reached a settlement with two former students at his acting school.

In a recent interview with Britain's Sunday Times, Rogen spoke out about his professional relationship with Franco.

"What I can say is that I despise abuse and harassment, and I would never cover or conceal the actions of someone doing it, or knowingly put someone in a situation where they were around someone like that," Rogen said when asked about actress Charlyne Yi's claim that he enabled Franco.

Rogen also apologized about a joke he made on "Saturday Night Live" in 2014 where he pretended that he pranked Franco by posing as a 17-year-old on Instagram.

Rogen Journal Monologue - Saturday Night Livewww.youtube.com

"I do look back at a joke I made on 'Saturday Night Live' in 2014 and I very much regret making that joke," adding: "It was a terrible joke, honestly. And I also look back to that interview in 2018 where I comment that I would keep working with James, and the truth is that I have not and I do not plan to right now."

Rogen told the newspaper that the allegations have created a rift in his relationship with Franco, but sympathies should lie with the accusers.

"I can say it, um, you know, it has changed many things in our relationship and our dynamic." However, he believes his own situation is "not as painful and difficult as it is for a lot of other people involved. I have no pity for myself in this situation."

Although Rogen once joked about his former co-star's behavior it's good to see him coming around to understanding that Franco's alleged behavior should be condemned. It took a while for Rogen to publicly discuss his true feelings about Franco, but his ability to put the health and safety of women before his professional and personal relationship with the actor is commendable.

What happened at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was a violation. Even Americans observing from home felt it. The loss of security. The destruction in the seat of our democracy. The peaceful transfer of power tradition broken. The flag of the United States being replaced by the flag of Donald Trump.

The details of the storming of the Capitol have only gotten worse as more footage has come out. It's now clear how narrowly our lawmakers escaped a rabid mob who had built gallows and chanted "Hang Mike Pence!", who sent men dressed in tactical gear and carrying flex cuffs into Congress chambers, who dared to carry white supremacist symbols through the hallowed halls as they trespassed, leaving a trail of literal piss and shit behind them.

Few Congress members have given detailed accounts of what they personally experienced that day, but there's no question it was traumatic for everyone involved. Lawmakers had to flee for their lives. People were killed in their workplace as they hid from the insurrectionists. They survived a terrorist attack. That's a big deal.

But it would be wrong to pretend the threat was equal for all lawmakers. Republican members of Congress who peddled election lies were not the target of the attack (some, in fact, appeared to be on the side of the insurrectionists). Considering the nature of the mob and what they were there for, the worst position to be in that day was to be Democrat woman of color.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fits that bill. As an attractive, outspoken woman, she has also been a specific target of violent and often sexualized death threats online since she came to Congress. But it's one thing to deal with online trolls, even particularly troubling ones, and another to know that there is a mob who wants to kill you roaming the halls of your workplace looking for you.

Other women of color who serve in Congress spoke of their trauma and fears of the racist mob during the attack in a piece published on Slate yesterday. But AOC took to Instagram Live last night to share a much more detailed account of what she personally experienced.

The full video (shared below) is long, but it's worth watching. After making it clear that it's her personal story, not "the" story of the Capitol attack, she shared a detail that informed her experience and shouldn't be brushed aside. AOC is a sexual assault survivor—an admission she'd never made publicly before. It's an important detail because 1) It's not uncommon—approximately 1 in 5 American women have survived a rape or attempted rape, which means it's statistically likely that many other members of Congress are also survivors, and 2) That trauma colors other traumatic experiences—such as surviving a terrorist attack—since trauma tends to compound.

AOC's description of how she hid in the bathroom and thought she was going to die is harrowing, but details in the story require an understanding of her perspective as a survivor. For instance, as she was hiding in the bathroom, a man came into her office yelling "WHERE IS SHE? WHERE IS SHE?" In those few seconds, she literally thought she was going to die. It turned out the man was a Capitol Police officer, but he didn't announce himself as such. As she was hiding behind the bathroom door, all she could see was that he was a white man in a beanie cap. When her aide told her it was safe to come out, she did, but even then she said something didn't feel right, as the officer looked at her with anger and hostility.

She questioned if she was projecting. Maybe she was. That's the thing about having survived a sexual assault and knowing you're a target in an attack—you really don't know who you can trust. And considering how terribly prepared law enforcement was for the attack, she had reason to be fearful.

The officer told her and her aide to flee to another building but didn't tell them exactly where to go. She ended up banging on the door of Rep. Katie Porter's office and hiding out in there for hours. She changed out of her heels and into gym shoes that belonged to one of Porter's aides and borrowed a puffer jacket from Porter in case she needed to escape out a window and blend in with the mob. She worried about the aides who were willing to put themselves in between the mob and the lawmakers.

The simple telling of the story, with AOC talking straight into the camera, is powerful. It's a reminder that this is not just about politics, but about human beings, that what they experienced in that attack was real, and terrifying, and traumatic. And most importantly, it makes it clear that calls to "move on," as if the attack wasn't really a big deal or should just be forgotten, are wrong.

That point cannot be made any clearer. The lawmakers who don't want people held accountable for the Big Lie that led to American citizens attacking their own government in a violent coup attempt are wrong. The attack on the Capitol wasn't just a random blip—it was an enormously big deal. According to the Coup D'etat Project at the University of Illinois' Cline Center—an academic group dedicated to studying government overthrows around the world—Jan 6 was an "attempted coup d'état: an organized, illegal attempt to intervene in the presidential transition by displacing the power of the Congress to certify the election."

An attempted coup on behalf of an outgoing president who refused to accept the results of an election is unprecedented and unAmerican. And yet lawmakers are refusing to accept and acknowledge their role in supporting the basis for the coup. Even worse, some have called for AOC to apologize for being angry at the lawmakers who pushed the Big Lie—which she rightly called out as a manipulation tactic used by abusers to avoid accountability.

Unfortunately, one of the reasons people don't speak about traumatic experiences is that they fear they won't be believed. Not being believed just adds to the trauma, but it's a common scenario with sexual assault, as well as domestic violence and other forms of abuse. Considering the video footage we have of the Capitol attack, AOC's account of what she experienced is totally believable, but she's still being attacked for being "overly dramatic" or making it all up or using it as a way to manipulate people.

She literally just shared her experience and how she feels about it. Is she supposed to not do that? Is she supposed to remains silent so people don't have to be reminded of the trauma the whole nation has experienced? So that people culpable in the Big Lie can remain comfortable despite the trauma they contributed to? Eff that.

Telling her story is an act of courage and hopefully it will inspire other Congress members to share their own accounts. It shouldn't be necessary, and no one should feel pressured to relive their trauma for all the world to see, but since there's a whole lot of denial going on, we need to hear these stories to get the full picture of what the Capitol attack entailed and what it meant. There can be no "moving on" without fully investigating this attack on our country and holding those responsible for it accountable. To suggest otherwise is simply wrong.

According to RAINN, teen girls between the ages of 16 and 19 are four times more likely to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. And as if the increased likelihood of sexual assault wasn't bad enough, many high school students are bombarded with reminders about their lack of security. Some are even reminded of the dangers through their homework.

Yes, really.

A teacher at Klein Collins High School in Spring, Texas is in hot water after giving 9th grade students a take-home test on a recent lesson on DNA. Students were asked to figure out who "raped Suzy" by studying DNA evidence results taken from the scene of the crime.


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"Suzy was assaulted in an alley and is a victim of rape. The police collected a sample of sperm that was left at the crime scene and now have three suspects in custody. Which of the suspects raped Suzy?" the question read.

Students were then expected to compare the DNA samples of three suspects against the test results of a criminal. On top of being a wildly inappropriate question to make fourteen and fifteen-year-olds answer, the question help perpetuates the myth that rapes are committed by strangers jumping out at women in dark allies. In reality, three out of four rapes are committed by someone the victim already knows, according to RAINN.

A mother sent a copy of the test to KPRC 2 Houston, and the question went viral.

Parents were understandably livid. "It's upsetting and I know girls this age, just the thought ... they know that rape is forced non-consensual sex and that upsets them," Cookie von Haven, a mother of a 10th grader at the school, told KPRC. "That's why I can't fathom a teacher putting that on a test."

Dana Duplantier, the parent of a 9th grader, wondered how the teacher was able to get away with asking the students such a controversial question. "Wouldn't (the teacher) have to get that approved by the school board or teachers or something to put that in there," she told KPRC.

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It turns out, the teacher didn't get approval from the school board. The question was conceived by the individual teacher and does not appear on a district-wide curriculum. 90 students in total received the take-home test.

In fact, the school district isn't happy about the question appearing at all. "The assignment is not part of the District's approved curriculum and is by no means representative of the District's instructional philosophy. The District has investigated the source of the materials and appropriate corrective action has been taken," Klein Independent School District said in a statement.

It would be wonderful to live in a world where high school students didn't have to fear sexual assault, but in the meantime, they shouldn't be asked to answer questions that reduce the gravity of rape to multiple choice.