Writing for Cosmopolitan, AnnaLynne’s titled her piece “Why I’m Done Staying Quiet About My Sexual Assault.” In it, she describes childhood physical abuse, which she says initially taught her the lesson “people who loved me hurt me.”
After moving to L.A. at 18, she let a male friend crash at her place for a night. She trusted him, but he sexually assaulted her. “My childhood had come back to haunt me again: Because of the physical abuse, I didn’t believe there were borders between other people’s bodies and my own,” she said. “I didn’t believe I had a voice.”
Afterward she would sometimes run into her assaulter. AnnaLynne described it: “We were at a club, and he cornered me, wanting to talk. I said, ‘You know what happened.’ He said, ‘What are you saying? What we had that night was beautiful.’”
When one of the storylines on “Beverly Hills, 90210″ called for her character to be sexually assaulted, AnnaLynne broke down weeping. Professional help, reading books on psychology and doing charity work have all made a difference in helping her to feel better. And now she’s ready to aid other women: “I have my message for women and girls: You have a voice. Don’t put yourself in a box. Don’t let the polite lies of society silence you.”
Meanwhile, the new tumblr When Women Refuse is highlighting the horrific things being done to women — including sexual assault and murder — who turn men down. “[T]he reality for many is that women denying sexual advances to both men they know and don’t know is often fraught with violent results,” the website explains. “We’re collecting stories of violence inflicted on women who reject sexual advances, specifically links and photos from published news stories.”
Scrolling through the stories is terrifying, heartbreaking — and for many people, all too familiar. Both AnnaLynne and the people behind When Women Refuse are showing how harmful violence against women is — and how much we need to speak up and put a stop to it.
If you or someone you know wants to talk to someone about sexual assault, please reach out to RAINN.
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