MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - With a wave of sexual misconduct allegations shaking the halls of power from Washington to Hollywood, more women are speaking out and speaking up about their experiences--even, in at least one instance here in Minnesota, running for office on a platform of empowerment.
A small business owner with a history in the healthcare industry, Sara Freeman never thought she'd end up in politics. It wasn't until the resounding chorus of voices began to come forward alleging several instances of sexual harassment at the state Capitol that she reflected on her own experience as a survivor of sexual violence and decided her voice was one that needed to be heard.
“Someone has to start these conversations," she said. "What has struck me speaking with voters at public forums and just online is the number of people who are saying to me—me too.”
Freeman is running for Gubernatorial candidate Paul Thissen's old seat in House District 61B, speaking openly and often about her traumatic experience being raped at gunpoint nearly 20 years ago--a decision that has put her squarely in the middle of a cultural reckoning and made her the target of significant pushback.
"“I have been intentional about using the word rape and using the term gun violence--I am a survivor of both," she said. “The threats and the harassment that I have received as a result of being so public and talking about gun violence—just using those terms has stirred up a tremendous backlash and response."
But with the example of so many strong women to follow, Freeman says she has no regrets--and hopes to inspire others to tell their stories as well.
“I was empowered by Lindsay Port and Erin Maye Quade and so many other women this fall and this year who have stood up and said this isn’t ok anymore," she said. "I hope that seeing survivors like me emboldens and empowers other survivors to step forward and tell our stories.”