The When You’re Ready Project (“WYR”) was started in 2014, following highly publicized rape and sexual assault allegations that dominated headlines – Bill Cosby, Jian Ghomeshi, the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at University of Virginia, and the others that are probably going to press as I write. It was inspired by the women who came forward and bravely told their stories. It was started by a woman who had been raped 3 times in her 30 years – at ages 16, 19 and 21 – but who had never told anyone her stories, until now.
Right now the world is engaged in a highly sensationalized debate on whether ‘rape culture’ is or is not ‘a thing’…but I don’t care. I know it is. With or without a headline-friendly buzz word, I know first hand that violence against women is a global pandemic with no signs of slowing until we acknowledge it. And by ‘we’ I mean women: victims, survivors, mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and friends. History has shown that when women stand together we can transform the norms and values of a society.
I am inspired by the women who stepped up in response to the backlash, who shared their own stories and stood in solidarity with the victims whose voices that were being silenced. I am outraged by the people, especially the women, who contribute to the victim blaming.
I’ve been silent, but I’ve decided I’m ready to speak. I’m doing this now because I can’t not do it now.
Media coverage of rape and violence is often a trigger for me, I imagine it is for many women. I read the coverage of the Jian Ghomeshi allegations and it was indeed a trigger. It triggered sadness, anger, and empathy. But then, Lucy DeCoutere shared her story with the world and that was an even more powerful trigger. It triggered elation, relief, and for the first time in a very long time – tears. Lucy said,
“…I wanted to get to a point where I’d be able to help folks…in a way my wish is coming true in the sense that I’m offering…a place for people where they feel a little safer. I mean, if there’s one thing that someone could do very safely today that they didn’t feel they could do safely three days ago is to say that they had a negative experience with Jian Ghomeshi, or someone else. And maybe they will feel like their voice will be heard.”
Lucy DeCoutere is a famous actress. Politicians Cheri DiNovo and Sheila Copps shared their stories soon after. These women have inspired me, I feel supported by them even though I’ve never met them. I want to do that for others. I’m not famous or influential, but I have a voice and I want it to be heard. I want to give other women a place for their voices to be heard. I want to tell them that when they’re ready, I’m here. We all are.