For the women who can say, “me too.”


Leila Stewart, Sport's Editor

Dear _____,


Everywhere we turn, there is someone, somewhere, saying something. Whether it’s words of disbelief, comfort, or shame- there seems to be words for everything but how it truly feels. I know sometimes I feel like we are stuck in this everlasting process of denial, acceptance, and anger.

Denying what your life has come to, accepting what happened and feeling the absolute weight of it, and screaming in anger because you can’t figure out what you did to deserve this.

There is no movement, no speech, and no march that can erase the damage. There is no consequence that can ever justify what happened to you. There is no forgetting, and forgiveness is often unfathomable.

I wish words were poetic enough to serve you, and the many among you, justice. But if it were that easy, then these types of things wouldn’t keep happening.

1 in 6. 1 in 6 girls will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.

You want to be in the top 10% of your class. You want to be in the 98% percentile. This is not a statistic you asked to become a part of and not a situation you ever wanted or imagined yourself to be in.

Because when you are ready, you will replay the moment or moments in your mind and you’ll feel even more helpless than you did when it happened. You’ll think of all of the things you could’ve done differently. But it’s not your fault. You’re not the one who should’ve changed their decision-making.

However, regardless of this a lot of people will still try to put you down. They will push their opinions and their perceptions constructed from religion or this idea that they know you just because they know what happened to you and they can make you feel like your innocence has been stripped or maybe that you’re less of a person. They’ll ask what you were doing, what you were wearing, but never how you feel.

I know how hard it is to try to validate your own feelings when it seems like no one else even wants to acknowledge that they’re there. But if you don’t credit them, who else will?

You are not a reflection of what has happened to you or the people of your past. You do not have to ask anyone for forgiveness or validation. The only person you will ever have to forgive or validate in this situation is yourself.

My favorite author, John Green, once wrote, “we need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken.” To me, it affirms that no matter what your past holds, you have the capability to continue on. You will look back at this time in your life and not know how you made it. But you did.

I must seem like a hypocrite trying to console you with words as I admittedly believe they can never be enough. We both know the weight of actions in comparison. But it is not the gravity of these words I want you to feel in your bones.

I want to release the heaviness in your chest, even if just by a little bit, by you knowing that you are not the only one. You may be a part of a tragic statistic, but you are also a part of a group of women who are stronger than the world could ever begin to know-stronger than you could ever even understand for yourself.

I used to wish for all of the people who hurt others in this way to pay for what they did… because hurt people hurt people. I realized if all I wished was for revenge, then what kind of person would that make me? How could I say I’m any better?

I try to channel the enmity I have and affliction that haunts me into a positive change. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that you don’t have to be alone. You don’t have to suffer in silence.

You may not get any legal justice, but you’ll get something I feel is greater than that. You will discover the incredible perseverance inside of yourself and the power of the compassion you can extend to others. You will realize the depth of your soul and gain respect for your body and all that its been through.

You are still worthy of love. There is someone out there that cares about you. You will get through this.