On Tuesday, Abigail Breslin posted a startling and personal post to her Instagram that resonated with many of her followers for a heart-wrenching reason.
The 20-year-old Scream Queens actress posted an image of a piece of paper with the words: “consent II: you are not obligated/ to have sex with someone/ that you’re in a relationship with/ dating is not consent/ marriage is not consent.”
In the caption, Breslin shared her truth, adding: “I knew my assailant. #SexualAssaultAwarenessMonth #breakthesilence.”
Her admission is powerful not just because it adds another voice to the fight against rape culture, but also because her assailant wasn’t a stranger hovering in a dank, crooked ally, as we so often envision when we think of sexual assault. It could have been an acquaintance. It could have been a co-worker. It could have been her best friend in the whole world. It could have been her boyfriend. It could have been.
Her case also isn’t isolated, not even close. 14 to 25 percent of women are sexually assaulted by their intimate partners during their relationship according to National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Breslin may fall in this category and may not, but her caption reveals a hint of the enormity of the problem that women (and men) are often sexually assaulted by people they know or even trust.
Breslin’s post also prompted an outpouring of both support and a number of retellings of her followers’ own experiences with assault.
“My sister and I shared our abuse to our parents just yesterday after years (10+) of hiding it and suffering,” one brave user shared.
“My boyfriend in high school sexually abused me for a year. I was 17. I’m now 24 and I’m just now realizing what he did to me was abuse,” another told her.
“An old friend tried to do the same to me and i haven’t told anyone about it cause i was young at the time.”
“At 59, I still have never told anyone.”
The post has hundreds of comments, dozens of heartbreaking recounts of sexual assault, and it’s powerful. Her story has not only resonated with fellow survivors, but it has garnered the attention of her followers, and she is using her substantial platform and influence to show that this is real, this happens, and we must fight as a society for it to stop being normalized, for it to stop being accepted.
Rape is rape. No one, sexual partner or otherwise, has permission to touch you without your consent.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact RAINN for national resources for survivors and their loved ones.