Wednesday, April 6, 2016


He didn't have to say anything. It was not required of him to speak out. It would have been easier to say nothing. And yet he took the risk of speaking out and giving a voice to many who are voiceless.

Yesterday I was stunned by this post from Councilman Jon Weinstein.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month... an issue that knows no boundaries.

Something few people know about me is that I was sexually assaulted in high school by a teacher I trusted. It took me several years to come to terms with it when I learned that another student was assaulted and the teacher was going to trial. At that time nobody knew what had happened to me. I struggled with telling my wife (with whom I went to high school and she knew the teacher), my parents, and my siblings because I was ashamed and embarrassed and didn't want anyone to think less of me. The one thing that pushed me to break my silence was my newborn son, Zach. Even though he couldn't utter a word, I could hear in my head the conversations we would have as he grew - like assuring him that he could tell me and his mom ANYTHING, and that you should always try your hardest to do what was right even if it was the hardest thing to do. That night I told Margaret and my parents; the next day I called the prosecutor and asked to testify... a decision I will always be glad I made.

Please raise your voice to stand up for survivors of sexual assault... or for any cause that matters to you. Please share this video with friends and family and consider what we all can do to support survivors and combat this societal scourge.

As a public servant, Mr. Weinstein is called upon to advocate for all sorts of people whose needs he may not necessarily share. He can work on a plan to provide after-school buses, for example, without having experienced the need for them. It is his responsibility to put himself in other people's shoes. The public understands that a politician will speak to a wide variety of issues simply as a part of his job.

But this one was personal. It would have been far easier, I think, to make the standard announcement and move on. Revealing himself as a victim of sexual assault took courage. Because as brave as it was, it comes with it an admission of vulnerability. Politicians don't usually seek out that territory--especially not men. It's a risk.

It's a risk Mr. Weinstein chose to take. I find this particularly heartening as we have a serious problem right now in Howard County with how the school system handles victims of sexual assault. This could have not come at a better time for victims and their families. They need a voice.

Survivors of sexual assault in Howard County can get in touch with HopeWorks for counseling and services. Now they know they have a friend in local government who knows, who really knows, what it's like to be in their shoes.

Thank you, Councilman Weinstein.




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