More than a million people marched on Saturday, January 20, at the second annual Women’s March across the United States. At the end of the march in New York City, 23-year-old singer-songwriter Halsey recited a heart-wrenching poem titled “A Story Like Mine”, detailing her experiences with sexual abuse, to highlight the fight for women’s rights.
“It’s 2009 and I’m 14 and I’m crying. Not really sure where I am, but I’m holding the hand of my best friend Sam in the waiting room of a Planned Parenthood,” starts the poem, as Halsey continued to narrate a disturbing account of her friend’s rape.
Unnervingly, it was only the first of several stories of sexual assault and abuse that the singer recited from her personal experience. She retold traumatic sexual events from her past, including an abusive, exploitative boyfriend: “He’s taken to forcing me down on my knees; I’m confused cause he’s hurting me while he says ‘please’ and ‘he’s only a man,’ and these things he ‘just needs’. He’s my boyfriend, so why am I filled with unease?”
There’s a lot more, one tale after another, revealing that not even stardom protects a woman. However, the poem is not just a reminder of sexual abuse and assault. Nor is it a roster of incidents that most women will relate to. It’s a statement of hope for women, asserting: “This is the beginning, it’s not the finale. And that’s why we’re here, and that’s why we rally.”