After writing about One Billion Rising and my own experience with rape for months now, suddenly I was struck with writer’s block on what to say at the event on V-Day February 14, 2013, but the night before I pulled it together and this was my message:
“My name is Chloe O’Hearn and I am 1 in a Billion. I was raped three times in Memphis, Cordova, and Germantown when I was 14 by boys I knew, football players and frat boys from a prestigious Catholic high school, and a Marine. I am not alone. More than a rape a day is reported every day in Memphis, and that’s just the very small number that are reported. We are the silent victims.
We teach our daughters to dress modestly or someone will think you’re asking for it, always be aware of your surroundings, don’t drink too much and never let your drink out of your sight, be careful how friendly you are to guys or they might get the wrong message, don’t walk to your car alone after work unless you’re holding your keys between your fingers in case you have to stab a potential attacker in the eye.
But when do we start teaching our sons not to rape? When does the cycle of violence stop?
My message to women, men, and children who are victims of sexual assault is that you do not have to spend your life living in fear, shame, or silence. Rise up, dance, and be proud of who you are. You are a warrior. You are a survivor.
I was silent for 22 years but I will not be silent any longer. Your voice is your strongest weapon. Use it!”
Immense thanks to all the women, men, girls, boys, hoopers, dancers, drummers, activists, media, supporters, friends, and especially survivors; everyone who participated in the One Billion Rising Memphis event and around the world. And especially my co-organizers Allison Glass and all the inspiring and dedicated women of WAC, Cassie Fox, Hannah Giles, our DJ Mary Jane, Amie Vanderford for the awesome photos, and Sara Free for this beautiful video, and most importantly my family for being there and supporting me through it all.
This is only the beginning. Together we can change the world.