40 years ago, on a cold winter night at a prestigious college campus, this time on the east coast. I was an 18-year-old student. I was going to a dance. The dance was at a fraternity and I intended to enjoy the evening with my friends. We danced. We listened to music. We enjoyed the evening and we enjoyed the party. Until one young man assaulted me in a crude and insulting way and I ran, alone, into the cold, dark night. I have never forgotten that night. I was filled with shame, regret, humiliation, while he was egged on by everyone at that party standing by.
Several years later, I was working as a legislative assistant right here on Capitol Hill. And I was assaulted again. This time by a distinguished guest of the United States congress. I was 23 years old. And as Judge Poe referenced tonight, I did not say a word to anyone. And In fact, until I wrote these words to share with you tonight, I had never told anyone this story. My family didn’t know. My husband. My children. My friends. I was 23.
A few months after that evening, I was walking home from dinner, at a diner right here on Capitol Hill. If I named it, you all would know it well. I was mugged. I was grabbed in the dark and I fought free and when I broke free, I ran again. Alone into the cold, dark night. I tell these stories tonight on the floor of the United States congress, not because they are remarkable or unique. Sadly, I tell these stories because they are all too common. You see, all of us, members of congress, college students, soldiers and sailors, mothers and sisters, we are all Emily Doe. And the message we hear and the message that the courts -- that the court sent In Stanford Is that we are not safe. We are not secure. And we do not deserve to be free. Free from sexual assault. Free from rape. Free from rude, crude, obnoxious, offensive assaults on our bodies, on our beings, on ourselves.
What we hear on college campuses, on military bases, in the workplace, and in the courthouse, is that he has a future. He has potential. He was drunk. He didn’t mean any harm. He just wanted to have fun. To get some action. And then get on with his life. What about her? What about her future? The student, the soldier, the sailor, the mother, the sister? We have been silent for too long. We also have potential. We also have a future. We are all Emily Doe, and tonight we will not be silent any more.
Tonight, we stand together, republicans and democrats, mothers and sisters, from across the country to take a stand for liberty and justice for all. We will fight for consequences, for the 3% of men on college campuses and in our communities who are sexual predators and a menace to women everywhere. We will fight for bystander education and sexual assault prevention, for the 97% of men on college campuses and in our communities who can be part of the solution. Join us in taking a stand against sexual assault. We will reward college campuses that are open, transparent and not only change their policies and programs, but actually hold the perpetrators accountable and provide real and effective counseling and support for those students who have been assaulted. And we will impose sanctions on college administrators who fail to act, fail to change, fail to prevent, fail to protect. Every student deserves to be safe, every student deserves to be secure, to live her life and to live her future. So remember, tonight we are all Emily Doe. She has given us our voice and we will not be silent any longer.
-Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
New Hampshire's 2nd district
Kuster Voices Support for Sexual Assault Victims
House Members Unite to Read Stanford Rape Victim’s Letter