Do you know Angela Shelton?
According to a story written by Alison Bowen and published this week at Womens enews , Shelton is a filmmaker and activist who advocates women to speak out against sexual abuse. Her autobiography, “Finding Angela Shelton,” is being released on April 1 and to mark the occasion rallies will be held at Barnes and Nobles bookstores across the nation calling for women to report being sexually assaulted.
Shelton was raped as a teen by a stranger and repeatedly abused by her father. In her 2001 documentary “Searching for Angela Shelton,” the filmmaker interviewed 40 women with same name as her and learned that many of them had also been abused.
The discovery of widespread abuse didn’t really surprise her. What did stun her was that not one of the women she interviewed had reported the abuse.
Shelton was a major voice in a nationwide campaign last month that launched Report IT, a Web site designed to enable victims of abuse to report their stories anonymously and encourage them to report it to authorities.
Shelton partnered with a Chicago group called PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment to launch the site, which was timed to the opening of a retrial for the case of Tory Bowen, who was banned from using the word “rape” in a Nebraska trial.
Bowen pressed charges against her alleged rapist but when she testified at his trial, the judge would not allow her to use the word, instructing her even to describe a sexual assault nurse examiner as a “sexual examiner.”
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and on April 29 Shelton and PAVE is encouraging others to show up at courthouses across the country and report abuse to the authorities.
It’s not easy telling someone your story. In April’s issue of “flaire for women” (which is due out Friday) I wrote about my ordeal as a teenager and how I was sexually assaulted by friend. It’s not easy telling your story, but I believe that we should not remain silent.
Like Shelton I feel that acknowledging abuse is the first step toward recovery.
“We should no longer remain silent, because your story is no longer your story,” Shelton says. “It’s everyone’s story.”