Sexual assault is way too common, affecting one in every six American women. But the names we know from high-profile cases—the Brock Turners and the Owen Labries—are those of the alleged rapists. We rarely hear from survivors. Their identities are protected, and for good reason. But sometimes it can feel like they get completely erased from the story.
Chessy Prout is one of those survivors. Her story made national headlines last year when Labrie, her alleged rapist, was found not guilty of felony sexual assault. Now Prout is talking a stand for survivors everywhere. She partnered with PAVE, a nonprofit focused on sexual violence, for the #IHaveTheRightTo social media campaign. Here’s how Prout explains it:
#IHaveTheRightTo find my voice and to use it when I am ready. #IHaveTheRightTo be called a survivor, not an “alleged victim” or “accuser.” #IHaveTheRightTo spend time with someone and be safe. #IHaveTheRightTo say NO and be HEARD. #IHaveTheRight to not be shamed and bullied into silence. #IHaveTheRightTo not be isolated by the crime against me or by people who want to shame me. #IHaveTheRightTo name what happened to me because being sexually assaulted is never excusable or “complicated.” There is no perfect victim. #IHaveTheRightTo be happy, sad, upset, angry, and inspired anytime during the process of my healing without being judged. But most importantly, #IHaveTheRightTo stand with you.
Hundreds of people have rallied behind Prout by using the hashtag on Twitter. Here are just a few examples: