MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges wants victims of sexual abuse to know they are not alone. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Mayor Hodges added her face to the steady stream of sexual assault survivors sharing their stories Monday morning on the Break the Silence Day Facebook page.
"I know we can heal from anything, because I have," the mayor wrote. "We can heal, succeed and thrive."
Break the Silence was founded in 2015 by sexual assault survivor Sarah Super, with a mission to end rape culture.
“Our community doesn’t really know yet how to believe survivors and support survivors,” said Super. “When well known people like Mayor Hodges—well respected people—choose to speak out, it takes us a little closer to that community that supports and stands with survivors.”
In the post, Hodges says she was sexually abused by adults unrelated to her for several years, starting at eight-years-old.
“My family did not know. I believed — was threatened into believing — that the slightest indication that anything was amiss would jeopardize the safety of everyone and everything I loved. No one knew until I told them early in my sobriety – not my friends, not my family,” Hodges wrote.
While the reaction online was overwhelmingly positive, some are questioning the timing of Hodge’s disclosure, as she is in the midst of a potentially tough race for the DFL endorsement for Minneapolis mayor.
“That kind of questioning supports perpetrators and silences survivors,” said Super. “To me, all it does is depict a culture that is not ready to validate survivors and meet them with the justice and trauma informed support that they deserve.”
Hodges declined Fox 9’s request for an interview Monday, but her spokesperson Eric Fought said the timing of her post coincides with Sexual Violence Awareness month.
Break the Silence: Mayor Hodges
My name is Betsy Hodges, and I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
It is pretty public knowledge that I have been sober since I was 19 years old. No one has ever really asked me how one gets to be that far gone that young. In one sense that is correct — I drank because I am an alcoholic. Period. That is true, and it is enough of my story, and I have never kept it hidden.
But the thing I don’t talk about, the thing that I do not say that regularly creates a distance between me and those who know me or meet me, is that I am a survivor of sexual assault. I was abused by adults unrelated to me for many years, starting when I was eight years old. My family did not know. I believed — was threatened into believing — that the slightest indication that anything was amiss would jeopardize the safety of everyone and everything I loved. No one knew until I told them early in my sobriety – not my friends, not my family.
Being a survivor has defined so much of who I am. I learned well how to suffer quietly, I learned to meet tragedy with a poker face and a plan, and I learned it was dangerous to share too much about the things I care about most. I am breaking the silence so others can know: you are not alone. I know we can heal from anything, because I have. We can heal, succeed and thrive.