For more than a year now, a local nonprofit called Break the Silence has been helping survivors of rape and sexual abuse come to terms.
Founded by Sarah Super, survivor of a 2015 rape by her ex-boyfriend Alec Neal, the organization serves as a support group and an outlet for cathartic release. Victims (male and female) of sexual trauma tell their stories and reveal their identities in whichever way they feel comfortable, either in person at one of the group's events, or online, through the Break the Silence Facebook page.
On Monday morning, visitors to that page were met with one of the city's most recognizable faces: Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.
In four plainly written paragraphs, Hodges wrote that she'd survived sexual abuse "for many years" as a young girl. Hodges connects her experience with abuse to her later alcoholism as a teenager.
Now in her first term as mayor of Minneapolis, Hodges, 47, has been sober since she was just 19. As mayor and a former city council member, Hodges has been fairly open about her addiction to alcohol, and chose to keep her abuse a secret until now. She says keeping her past hidden "regularly creates a distance between me and those who know me or meet me."
Read Hodges' full story about her experience below; click here to learn more about the Break the Silence organization.
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.
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