PROMPT: Open Letter

To Whom It May Concern,

I heard you said something about me behind my back that I don’t appreciate and I just want to clear the air. I heard that people are saying not to believe me about sexual harassment because I’m “overdramatic” and “exaggerating that stuff.” As a survivor of rape and assault who is still struggling with PTSD, allow me to explain why this is not okay for you to be saying about me, or anyone:

When you say things like that, you are actively contributing to rape culture. You are encouraging other people to stay silent about their experiences. You are telling others that if they come forward with reports, they will not be believed, nor should they be. You are telling them their feelings and experiences don’t matter. Furthermore, you are giving those who feel it’s appropriate to make uncomfortable “jokes” and touch others without permission the power to continue their predatory activities. You are enabling them to continue hurting others. Is that really the kind of person you want to be?

Believe survivors. If someone comes to you with a story about harassment or assault, believe them. Be supportive. Direct them to the appropriate resources. Don’t question or doubt then. Don’t blame them for what happened. Don’t tear them down behind their backs and make the pain even worse. Don’t be that person. If you wouldn’t want someone to treat you like that, don’t treat others like that.

Rape, assault, and harassment are not a joke. Furthermore, not everyone finds “jokes” about sexual topics on the work floor to be an appropriate topic of conversation. There are actual rules we have to follow as we work in customer service. These so-called “jokes” are often hurtful and offensive to others who may be too afraid to stand up and say something for fear of retaliation and negative backtalk, similar to what you’re doing right now. That’s why I’m not afraid to take a stand and report this crap when I see it. People who uphold rape culture in any form need to be held accountable. Period. That includes anyone who publicly casts doubt on a victim’s story or refers to a survivor as “overdramatic.” It most definitely includes yourself.

In the future, I hope you will think about this letter before you open your mouth to speak. Words matter. I realize that small town Midwestern people think tearing down others behind their backs is a legitimate form of entertainment, but I do not, especially when it comes to doubting survivors and enabling rape culture. I sincerely hope you learn your lesson from reading this letter. Maybe someday you will finally understand that this issue is so much bigger than a casual shit-talking session.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a *Magical* day.

Sincerely,

Betsey Horton, Writer Extraordinaire

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