Amandla was steadily breathing in her hotel room as she live-streamed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony on national television. Listening to Dr. Ford inspired Amandla to open up about her experiences with sexual assault in a powerful op-ed for Teen Vogue.
The 19 year-old actress and star of The Hate U Give detailed her two experiences of sexual assault, the first when she was younger, and felt as if she had no choice but to go along with the actions of her assaulter.
“I felt I only had two options,” she wrote. “I could A) voice my discomfort and protest, probably to be met with further force and/or male disapproval or B) convince myself that this was something I wanted. I chose the latter out of self-preservation and to placate male desire. I had not consented, but I had not said no.”
The second experience was more recent and initially started off consensually. Stenberg says she protested everything while it happened and was “silenced verbally and physically.” After the encounter, Stenberg woke up to a text message telling her to go find Plan B.
Initially, she blamed herself. “This was my fault for not having been smarter.”
But with the help of Dr. Ford and other survivors speaking up against their abusers, she’s come to realize, “It is not your fault. It is not your responsibility to figure this out by yourself. It is not your responsibility to sacrifice your comfort to gratify others. Assault can look like many different things. Consent is continual. You are not dirty. You are not stupid. You are not weak for needing help. You are not defined by this. You are not alone. You are loved. Cry if you need to. Breathe. Your breath and your body belong wholly to you.”
Read the entire moving piece on Teen Vogue.