Logan, Utah Women’s March

On January 20, CAPSA therapist, Vikki Salinas delivered the following speech to a crowd gathered for Logan Utah’s second annual Women’s March.

Hello! My name is Vikki Salinas, and I am a therapist who works at Citizens Against Physical and Sexual Abuse, or, CAPSA. I have worked with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault for more than a decade, but I learned about the Me Too movement, like many of you, just a few months ago. As the movement gained speed on social media, my first thought was what an excellent way to help others know they are not the only ones that have experienced sexual assault or rape. These two short words – me too – carry the weight of a centuries-long struggle to be seen. To be heard. To be understood. The pain of sexual assault and rape can be a burden too great to carry on our own, but these two short words say: “You are not alone in your experience, I hear you.” And women around the world have boldly shared these words and their stories, and with that, they have declared, enough is enough!

The activist Tarana Burke founded the Me Too movement 10 years ago. Before she started the movement Tarana was the program director for Brooklyn-based Girls for Gender Equity, and her main goal was to empower young women of color. In 1997, Tarana found herself sitting across from a 13-year-old girl who was explaining her experience with sexual assault. Tarana was left speechless, not even working up the courage to say the words Me Too. 10 years after that conversation is where the Me Too movement started. Tarana went on to create Just Be Inc., a non-profit organization that helps victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Tarana actively sought resources that were not readily available to her 10 years before and committed herself to helping people who had been abused.

Tarana did not intend for the Me Too movement to grow into what it is today, becoming the major social media campaign that it has now become. Tarana envisioned a social movement that takes a bold stance and empowers women and girls to proclaim, “I am not ashamed, I am not alone.”  Me Too is a statement from survivor to survivor that says: “I see you, I hear you, I understand you.”

One thing I know from doing this work: survivors of sexual assault and rape want to be heard. They want to feel validated and safe. They want to know they can talk to someone and not feel pressured to make any one decision. When women are heard, they are empowered to take that next step, or finally close that chapter in their lives that has hurt them so badly. At CAPSA, we provide a safe environment free of judgment where a person can feel heard and know their experience is validated when we tell them “This wasn’t your fault.”

This is an exciting time in the struggle for gender equality. The mountain is steep, and the burden is great, but together we will reach the summit and look out on a world where instead of victims being blamed for what has happened to them or be made to feel ashamed of themselves they are encouraged and supported in their healing journey. Let us keep pressing forward, let us not lose the momentum we are experiencing. Let the Me Too movement not just be but a moment, but a movement. Tell those who are brave enough to share their stories of sexual assault that you hear them. You don’t have to walk in their shoes to feel their pain…you just have to walk beside them and tell them “I see you, I hear you, I understand you. And…I am with you.”

You can view a recording of the speech on YouTube.