For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, 'me too,' other groups focus on attacks against Black women

The data is a glimpse of the far-reaching harm caused by those who perpetrate and enable sexual violence against Black women.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, for every Black woman who reports rape, at least 15 do not, and 1 in 5 Black women are survivors of rape.

"Black survivors are overrepresented in experiencing harassment and violence. But they also are less likely to come forward and report, and that to me suggests that our systems aren't working," said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women's Law Center.

The organization teamed up with Time's Up and "me too" International for a week of action that amplifies the voices of Black survivors.

"There's so many complications and barriers, and part of the reason why we're doing this work is to start talking about some of those barriers, talk about it out loud to name them, so that people understand just what the work is ahead of us," Tarana Burke, founder and executive director of "me too" international.

Barriers are woven into many layers of society.

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"That idea that people aren't telling the truth. That is a long trope that follows all survivors but especially Black survivors," said Goss Graves. "There's also this long idea that somehow Black people are more sexually promiscuous. That is a trope that follows, that makes it hard for people to name an experience at all," she added.

"If you can get past that barrier to actually report, then there are a whole other set of barriers that exist...when involved in law enforcement and they're some of the same barriers that exist when it's not sexual violence," said Burke.
The "We, As Ourselves" campaign aims to address issues that perpetuate sexual harassment and violence against Black people and society's response to it.

"Often there's a culture of silence in the Black community like a lot of communities of color," said Burke. "But there's definitely a culture of silence that says these are stories that we should keep to ourselves, and we can't disrupt our home lives, our family lives, our community, our social circles with these 'stories,' because people tend not to believe."

You can find more resources and ways to participate in the week of action using #weasourselves and the social media handle @weasourselves.

"You can drive difference in your family. You can drive difference in your church, in school, in your community," said Goss Graves. "People have a lot more power than they think."

"What's really, really important about this week is that we're lifting up these stories so that people really understand what the breadth of what we've been holding and dealing with as Black survivors," said Burke.

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