Today, August 17, is Break The Silence Day in Minnesota. Survivors of sexual assault are coming together all over the state, and on social media, to share their stories and lend support and love to one another. Breaking the silence is incredibly brave and heroic, especially given the current climate of victim blaming. Men and women who are sexually assaulted are treated as if they somehow asked for it, or even wanted it. This hostility makes it very difficult to speak up, to share experiences with other survivors.
I am a survivor of rape and attempted rape. I broke my silence a few years ago, after Todd Akin coined the phrase “legitimate rape,” as if some rapes aren’t. I finally told my father I had been date raped by a boyfriend when I was 15. I told lawyers a teacher had tried to rape me in his car the same year as the date rape.
I founded a now-defunct Facebook page entitled “We Are Legitimate,” and had the honor of meeting other survivors, some of whom shared their stories with me. I remember crying as I read one woman’s email about her own brother, and another email from a man who was raped by a coach in middle school.

Breaking the silence is empowering, especially because rape is about taking your power away. The rapist is not motivated by love, or lust, or passion, he or she is motivated by power. Rape is an act of destruction. The attack may be over in a matter of minutes, but the effects last years, and in many cases, a lifetime. That’s the power. Breaking the silence takes back our power from our attackers, breaking the silence gives us back our strength. Breaking the silence can help heal our souls.
Leonard Cohen, in his wonderful song “Anthem,” says “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Survivors of sexual assault may have cracks, but we are filled with light. Like Japanese pottery, we are bound together with gold, and are made the more beautiful for it.
It is a sobering thought that, as I am writing this article, someone in the U.S is being raped. A man, a woman, a child, someone is being sexually assaulted. Someone is beginning a journey of trauma, pain, and sadly, shame. But perhaps, that someone will find a group of other survivors, people to stand with them, support them, and show them how to repair their cracks with gold.
My name is Erin Nanasi, and I am Breaking The Silence.


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