The mayor of Minneapolis revealed Monday morning she is a survivor of sexual abuse, and has a message for others: "You are not alone."
Betsy Hodges, who is nearing the end of her first term and gearing up for a re-election this fall, appeared on the Facebook page Break the Silence Day. Like the 78 other survivors profiled so far, a black-and-white photo of Hodges is accompanied by a personal story about her experience.
The mayor begins by acknowledging her struggles with alcohol at a young age (which she's discussed in the past), before saying: "But the thing I don’t talk about, the thing that I do not say that regularly creates a distance between me and those who know me or meet me, is that I am a survivor of sexual assault," her story says.
Hodges says she was abused by adults "unrelated" to her for years, as early as 8 years old, and was threatened into keeping quiet.
Here's the post – give it a full read:
Break the Silence Day
The organization RAINN says sexual violence has fallen by more than half over the past 24 years. But an average of more than 321,000 Americans ages 12 and older are sexually assaulted annually. And one in six women, and one in 33 men, has experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
Break the Silence Day, which formed in the summer of 2015 amid the Bill Cosby sexual assault allegations, says its goal is to support survivors of sexual abuse and hold the people responsible accountable. To do so, they want to encourage a society where men and women feel safe and comfortable sharing their stories.
"By breaking the silence, survivors empower others to do the same. By breaking the silence, survivors personalize the statistics on sexual violence. When survivors break the silence, it connects those who haven't been assaulted to the issue of sexual violence in a visible, personal, and urgent way," the group says.
Last year, the Minneapolis City Council declared Aug. 17 Break the Silence Day, to encourage people to share stories. And that day about a dozen people came together to do just that, as the Star Tribune wrote.
And in a speech last week – billed as a direct rebuke to President Donald Trump's policies – Hodges said some of the work being done that she is "most proud of" has dealt with combatting sexual assault. That includes a collaboration between five different agencies (including law enforcement, prosecutors, medical personnel and advocates), which hopes to give survivors more support.
More on sexual assault
The City of Minneapolis says more than nine out of every 10 perpetrators of sexual assault "receive no punishment," and that many survivors stay silent about what happened.
And according to RAINN, people often don’t report assaults for a number of reasons. Some of those include victims believing it’s their own problem to deal with, being afraid of reprisal, or not wanting the offender to get in trouble.
There are many support services in Minnesota for victims of sexual assault – find some details by clicking here. If you’d like to get help or talk to someone about an assault, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673.