Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence participated in the 2nd Annual Women’s March at the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, CT on January 20, 2018. Staff provided free resources and information about upcoming events at our information booth, while volunteers solicited signatures for our petition to end the statute of limitations on sexual assault crimes in Connecticut. Our executive director, Laura Cordes, was a featured speaker during the rally. In case you missed it, we have included her speech below:
My name is Laura Cordes and I am the very proud director of the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence. We stand unquestionably with survivors and against a culture that has for far too long normalized rape, sexual harassment, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, police brutality, and victim blaming.
For those who cannot see me, I am wearing a sweatshirt that says “We Believe You” because at The Alliance, we believe survivors. For over thirty five years, we have have been on hotlines and the front lines supporting survivors in police stations, courtrooms, campuses and hospitals. We know that one of the greatest fears that victims have in coming forward is that no one will believe them. We do, and always have.
Our movement is growing. Our national reckoning with sexual violence has begun. Thanks to Tarana Burke’s #MeToo, and survivors themselves, their powerful truths are changing the conversation and helping others to understand the realities that victims of violence face. And while we have seen long overdue justice for many high profile individuals, we must not forget those whose experiences are still hidden, still secret, and still invisible: low wage workers, people of color, our nation’s immigrants, people who identify as LGBTQ, and people with disabilities. Not only are they vulnerable to sexual violence, but they face additional bias and discrimination from systems that should protect them.
No one is safe until we are all safe. We cannot work to dismantle oppression, to end sexual violence, to build workplaces and communities free of sexual harassment and assault for just some of us. We must do it for all of us. Now is the time to work together, to do it for everyone.
I have a message for the thousands of Connecticut survivors: we believe you. Even if it happened a long time ago, even if you never told anyone, even if you trusted or liked the person who harmed you: it is not your fault.
We believe you. We believe you. We believe you.
You deserve safety and support. You get to decide who you tell, when you tell, and to create your own path for healing and justice. We are here for you. We will not go back. We won’t stop fighting!
Thank you to the volunteers behind Women’s March CT – We March On for letting us take part in this momentous event. Special thanks also to Lisa Sementilli for her photos.