Dozens gathered at the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse Wednesday afternoon to stand in solidarity with victims of sexual abuse.
The march, organized by Women’s March SLO, started at 4:30 and ended at 6 p.m.
The event stemmed from the viral hashtag, #WhyIDidntReport. It’s been trending online since sexual misconduct allegations came out against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Many, including President Donald Trump, are asking why his accusers didn’t say something more than 30 years ago.
Organizers say they wanted their event to focus less on politics and more on the victims.
#WhyDidntIReport event underway at SLO County Courthouse through 6 pm. Organizers say they want this to be focused less on politics and more on victims. pic.twitter.com/9Xgcj0c9xY
— Kelsey McFarland (@KelseyMarie_TV) September 27, 2018
Dawn Marie Little, a San Luis Obispo resident, attended the event on Wednesday. She was 19 and had just joined the Air Force when she says she was sexually assaulted.
“It took years for me to even be able to talk about it… It still affects me every day. I don’t know what happened, I have no idea who it was, or if there was more than one person involved,” Little said.
Little says when she tried to tell higher-ups in the Air Force about the assault, nothing happened.
“I felt like I was getting in trouble. It felt like, how dare you come in and try to ruin somebody’s life over this,” Little said.
That night ended up changing her life forever.
“I’m 19, just moved to another country, now on my own, found out that I’m pregnant with my rapist’s child,” Little explained.
That baby is now 18-years-old.
“Thankfully, I had that baby because it gave me new purpose and new drive,” Little said.
Jennifer Adams, Executive Director of RISE in San Luis Obispo County, says ‘shame’ is one of many reasons victims don’t come forward.
“I’ve talked to thousands of victims over the years and I’ve never talked to a victim that hasn’t somehow blamed themselves,” Adams said.
Adams added that often times, the victim is afraid of getting in trouble, their memory is spotty, and they may not identify what happened to them as sexual assault.
Women’s March SLO wants those victims to know that they have allies in San Luis Obispo.
“We’re not taking aim at the President, we’re not taking aim at the Supreme Court nominee. Really what we want is to stand in solidarity with survivors and say, ‘we see you, we hear you, we believe you, and we’re here for you,'” said Dawn Addis with Women’s March SLO.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of sexual abuse, RISE has a 24-hour support line at 855-886-RISE. You can also find them online at Riseslo.org.