New activities are often accompanied with apprehension and excitement. You’ve been looking forward to this first step. As the day and hour creep closer the excitement becomes more frantic. The fear is every bit more real. It’s even more so when you’ve been planning for months. You’ve never done anything like this, so you can’t help but wonder what you got yourself into.
When Morgan awoke on that Saturday morning in January she brimmed with excitement. She woke up early because of it. When she and two friends stepped onto the train filled with women in pink hats, she felt comforted. Solidarity erased the nerves of attending a big protest. The intense anxiety that had been with Morgan fell away. Two years ago, Morgan was sexually assaulted. While she was able to forgive the boy who did it, she was still learning to forgive herself. The march was a turning point. Here’s what she had to say:
“My freshman year at college, I was raped a week before my 19th birthday. I've always been vocal, loud, and unapologetic about my feelings, but this act left me silenced. I wasn't sure how to process what had happened to me. Every ounce of trust that I had in other human beings was gone. This act was committed by someone I considered a close friend at the time.
I had never felt truly powerless until that moment and the year or so afterwards. All throughout my sophomore year of college, I struggled to grapple with the violence that had been committed against my person and my body. My body was no longer my own. It belonged to my rapist, and I struggled to feel beautiful, powerful, and worthy for a long time.
That's why, late in my sophomore year of college, when Trump was just announcing his run for presidency, I was frightened. As a student of political science, I knew of Donald Trump's rhetoric against women. It was something I was unfortunately all too familiar with in my own life as well. Questions of "why did you drink so much" or comments such as "you're not pretty enough to have been raped" were common occurrences when I dared speak up about what I had been through.
So, when Donald Trump became the nominee for president, I knew that I no longer had a choice about being silent. And while I was scared, I knew that there were thousands more like me, who didn't have the support of their friends and families, whose voices had been taken from them. If I didn't speak up, who would?
Election night and inauguration day were two of the darkest moments of my adult life. The rhetoric of "sexual assault will ruin a man's career" echoed throughout my brain as I watched the events unfold. I worried about my safety, the safety of my friends, and the safety of people I had never even met before.
As I made my way to D.C. for the Women's March, I knew that I had to protest the plague that was consuming our capitol. The idea that men could speak and control women's bodies. I had to dispel that myth. So I made my voice heard.
I marched, I shouted, I cried, I screamed, I fought.
My friend got this picture of me marching, and every time I look at it, I’m reminded of how brave and empowered I can be. I am reminded that I promised myself I wouldn't stay silent.
My whole life, I was told that rape was the victim's fault, but I refuse to further that myth...people told me not to speak out. They told me to stay silent, but nevertheless, I persisted.
Thank you, for giving me the courage to continue to share my story.”
Morgan says the act of participating in January’s march was draining, overwhelming, in a positive way. Around her women chanted ‘My body, my choice’ to which men chanted in return ‘her body, her choice’. It left her in tears. Witnessing that support for women, especially from men, helped Morgan reconnect with the opposite sex, to see that they understood the seriousness of sexual assault and women’s rights to their bodies.
Now, back on campus, Morgan is funneling that experience into her community. She’s investing time into helping the school provide better and more resources for students who have experienced sexual assault. It’s also helped her decide where she wants to take her career, focusing in on law school, specifically human rights law. Morgan wants to use that to help women and children, especially empowering women and girls. She sees it as giving them a voice, before someone tries to take it away.
“I had been muted, I was afraid,” says Morgan. She’d been worried about making people uncomfortable, but since the march she’s been speaking about her assault and the experiences following it. “It doesn’t matter if people are uncomfortable,” she said.
Morgan has focused her energy on using her voice.
“We have this culture where women are afraid to say things, they’re taught from a young age their feelings, their place, their voice is beneath a man’s. Let’s teach them their voice is important, that they have a right to use it, to say no,” said Morgan. “Women’s voices are important, women’s voices deserve to be heard”.