Women on the outside are doing their work to bring incarcerated women into the #MeToo movement. According to a piece from The Fire Inside, the newsletter for the California Coalition of Women Prisoners (CCWP), more than 80 percent of incarcerated women are survivors of sexual abuse or violence.
The piece asserts that the threat of sexual abuse increases when women are behind bars and usually these women don’t have anyone to whom to report their trauma. Now, a national movement around sexual violence is reaching them.
“Fear and shame kept me quiet when I was abused,” Rita Marie Lewis said in the news- letter article titled, “Incarcerated Women Say #MeToo.”
The #MeToo movement represents a moment of exploding social awareness around sexual harassment and violence by people in positions of power. According to the article, women who fight against this violence can wind up incarcerated.
“I understand why people keep quiet about the abuse they suffer,” Lewis said.
She explained that there is a fear of becoming labeled a whistleblower or a liar by what she refers to as the ‘good old boys’ network. “Most women do not lie about abuse.”
In a poem written for the newsletter, Alisha Coleman, Program Assistant for the CCWP, opens up about her experiences being abused as a free, and later incarcerated, woman.
“I was just a kid when he did what he did,” Coleman writes. “I was a baby who had a baby and ended up in prison to be abused again by my alleged protectors. ‘Protect and serve’ is such a joke!”
CCWP is a grassroots campaign, led by loved ones and advocates who seek to educate and mobilize the public to demand an end to abusive and discriminatory behavior be- hind prison walls. Their legal team is continuing to collect stories from other prisoners about incidents of sexual abuse