Amy Johnson: Dear survivors of sexual assault in Federal Way

Dear Survivors,

I believe you. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I want you to know that I believe your stories, I see how prevalent you are in my community, and I honor your experiences.

Whether you are boldly proclaiming #MeToo, or suffering in silence, I know you are in every Federal Way school, as students, and as faculty; as athletes, scholars, coaches and advisors.

I am aware that you are in every place of business, as owners, employees and customers.

You work for the City of Federal Way, for department stores, movie theaters, restaurants, service providers, libraries, medical facilities and more.

I know you attend churches in Federal Way every Sunday, and mosques and temples other days of the week — sometimes at the same place of worship as your abuser or assaulter.

I understand that you represent every gender and every sexual orientation. You are single, married, in a relationship and dating. You represent every ethnic group in our community.

I know you are our leaders, our mentors, our hope for the future.

And I know you are strong because you’ve survived. You’ve survived demeaning comments, injuries to your bodies and wounds to your souls. You’ve survived being blamed for what happened to you, self-doubt, rage and depression. Many of you are actively surviving these things each and every day.

Sexual assault is horrific and inexcusable. Yet, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 57 percent of women and 42 percent of men experience some type of sexual abuse by the time they reach age 17. And for all the press it gets, it’s important to know that research shows that only between 2 percent and 10 percent of all reports are false.

With numbers like these, we all own this problem. We all have responsibility to change how we talk about sexuality in our homes, our schools, our workplaces, our places of worship.

It’s up to each of us to know and teach all our young people that verbal harassment is harassment. It’s not OK.

It’s up to each of us to know and to teach about consent — full, ongoing, enthusiastic consent — and to start with young children regarding how they play and touch each other. We cannot afford to wait until the teen years or college to teach about this crucial topic.

It’s up to each of us to stop shaming and stigmatizing survivors, and to start recognizing the resilience, strength and healing of those among us.

It’s up to each of us to model healthy relationships, communication, and affection for the children in our lives.

It’s up to us to continually improve how we address these issues, so that we are not blaming those who are assaulted, and so that we are educating people about how not to unintentionally become a perpetrator. So, while we’re doing the work that needs to be done to make this a better community, a safer community, a more compassionate and educated community — I want you to know. I believe you, and I believe in you.

Amy Johnson, MSW, is a trainer and educator in the Pacific Northwest. She is co-author of three books and facilitates classes and workshops in the Puget Sound area. Amy specializes in sexuality education and in promoting safe and healthy sexuality culture in faith communities. All opinions are her own. Contact:

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Season of change for the Federal Way Mirror

I have always been a firm believer that out of something bad comes something good.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact
Federal Way political action simmers amid COVID-19

District 30 seats are up for grabs.

Fickle finger of fate has descended on Federal Way

Having a strong local government is a benefit to all of us in a crisis.

How using a face mask to cover my Asian face could put me in danger

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Asians and Asian Americans have been targeted.

Opinion: Public deserves honest information on sex education

The Washington comprehensive sex education bill passed in the Senate on March 7.

Grocery store staff are working hard to keep the shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo
Thank you grocery store clerks

Recognizing the sacrifices of our unsung essential workforce.

To our elected officials: Be bold, be consistent, be honest, be helpful

By Patrick Grubb, Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Governor Jay Inslee has been… Continue reading

Baruso appointed to Federal Way Council amid chaos

There will be many other interpretations of the mayor’s actions, and this episode will have repercussions among the eight elected officials that run City Hall.

Federal Way trapped in a ‘Catch 22’

We are mediocre in a region that is rapidly becoming global, educated and economically relevant. We have a mountain to climb.

State of the City

Elections are next year, and with the high profile marketing for the event, the speech always sounds more like a “please vote for me” campaign kick-off.

Welcome to Olympia Mr. Johnson

Sometimes making a law isn’t pretty, and by the time everybody weighs in, that great idea may look completely different.

Mirror’s role in vetting Federal Way Council candidates

The Mirror conducted a background check on all 19 candidates who applied for the Pos. 2 vacancy.