The Most Powerful Statements from TIME’s Person of the Year, The Silence Breakers

Billy & Hells / TIME

TIME Magazine puts the spotlight on “The Silence Breakers,” the people who spoke out against sexual assault or harassment, for its 2017’s Person of the Year. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which inspired women worldwide to speak out about their own experiences of sexual misconduct in exposé interviews and through the #MeToo hashtag online, the honor couldn’t be more timely.

“[The] idea that influential, inspirational individuals shape the world could not be more apt this year,” TIME Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal explains, calling the #MeToo movement “one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s,” thanks to the help of social media.

Below are some of the silence-breakers and victims featured in the story.

Rose McGowan: “People forget that there’s a human behind this. Someone who is very hurt and wronged. But that’s okay. It fuels my fire. They really f*cked with the wrong person,” she told TIME in an interview.

McGowan is one of the most vocal figures, especially on social media, against sexual assault and harassment. After returning from her suspension on Twitter in October, she publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her. A rep for Weinstein responded with the statement: “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”

Terry Crews: “I’m telling you, all the people who stand up, all the people who speak out, you are teaching people how to treat you. And you should not be shamed for that,” he told TIME in a video interview. The Brooklyn Nine-Nine star helped break the stereotype that victims of assault or harassment are always women. The actor stepped forward on Twitter as the Weinstein allegations gained traction and accused a talent agent Adam Venit of groping him at an industry party. He later filed a lawsuitagainst Venit. The agent denied TIME‘s request for comment.

Tarana Burke, activist and creator of #MeToo: “Sexual harassment does bring shame. And I think it’s really powerful that this transfer is happening, that these women are able not just to share their shame, but to put the shame where it belongs: on the perpetrator,” she told TIME. Burke is originally started the #MeToo hashtag more than 10 years ago as an effort to create a support system among sexual assault survivors.

Alyssa Milano: “I look at my daughter and think, please, let this be worth it. Please, let it be that my daughter never has to go through anything like this,” the actress revealed. Milano gave new light to Burke’s hashtag when she tweeted it in October and encouraged millions of women to share their experiences of assault and harassment. She noted to the AP in October that she, too, has her own story, but chose not to share it at the time to put the focus on other people.

Megyn Kelly: “I always thought maybe things could change for my daughter. I never thought things could change for me. Never.” The NBC anchor revealed in Octoberthat she warned the co-presidents of FOX about Bill O’Reilly’s treatment of women. In her 2016 memoir she also accused the network’s CEO of sexually harassing her, People reports. Ailes “categorically denied” Kelly’s allegations of harassment in a 2016 statement. He passed away in May this year. O’Reilly said no complaints were filed against him during his time at FOX.

Selma Blair: “I decided to go on the record when I saw his [director James Toback] denial,” she told TIME. “He called the women liars. But their stories were so similar to mine, and they were such credible women. There was no agenda other than they wanted to share this story, be free of this story.” Blair and fellow actress Rachael McAdams accused Toback of sexual harassment in an interview with Vanity Fair, which was published in late October. Toback has denied all harassment allegations.

Ashley Judd: “We need to formalize the whisper network. It’s an ingenious way that we’ve tried to keep ourselves safe. All those voices can be amplified,” she told the magazine. Judd was one of the women who shared their stories and accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment in The New York Times‘ exposé on the movie mogul. Weinstein’s rep gave a statement in a similar New Yorker story that arrived days later, in which the producer “unequivocally denied” any allegations of non-consensual sex, and said “there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.” See Weinstein’s full response here.

Taylor Swift: “My advice is that you not blame yourself and do not accept the blame others will try to place on you,” she told TIME in an interview. “You should not be blamed for waiting 15 minutes or 15 days or 15 years to report sexual assault or harassment, or for the outcome of what happens to a person after he or she makes the choice to sexually harass or assault you.”

Swift was sued by Denver DJ David Mueller for damages when he lost his job after she called him out for groping him during an artist meet-and-greet in 2013. The singer counter-sued for $1, and testified in August. The jury ruled in her favor. This marks her first interview since the trial. Mueller’s lawyer did not respond to TIME‘s multiple requests for a comment.

Adama Iwu, lobbyist: “It’s hard to call 147 liars. We can’t all be crazy. We can’t all be sluts.” Iwu gathered 147 women to sign an open letter denouncing sexual harassment in California’s legislature, which later led to investigations at the state capital.

Lindsay Meyer, entrepreneur: “For so long, I went around harboring this belief that because I was a nonwhite woman in my 20s that it was expected that I would be treated this way,” she said to TIME. Meyer accused venture capitalist Justin Caldbeck of harassment. After six other women also spoke out, Caldbeck resigned from his firm. In June, he issued a statement apologizing to “those women who I’ve made feel uncomfortable in any way.”

Juana Melara, a house keeper: “The way he was looking at me wasn’t friendly. I rushed to finish the room as fast as I could and get out of there,” she told the magazine. Melara says hotel guests have exposed themselves to her while she was working. Her hotel, which TIME did not name, declined to comment.

Sara Gelser, Oregon state senator: “We can’t pick and choose based on whose political beliefs we believe in. And that means we have to be willing to speak out when it’s a member of our own party,” she told TIME. Gelser is one of two senators who have publicly accused Oregon legislator Jeff Kruse of sexual harassment, according to Oregon Live. Kruse has denied touching Gelser inappropriately.

Wendy Walsh, former Fox News contributor: “I was afraid of the retaliation,” she told TIME. “I know what men can do when they’re angry.” Walsh was one of the individuals who publicly accused Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment this spring, according to ABC. He was fired from FOX in April. O’Reilly has denied allegations of misconduct.

Susan Fowler, former Uber engineer: “I remember feeling powerless and like there was no one looking out for us because we had an admitted harasser in the White House,” she told TIME. “I felt like I had to take action.”

Fowler wrote a now-popular blog post in February about her experiences with sexual harassment as an engineer at Uber. The investigation that ensued resulted in the resignation of the tech company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, and the firing of 20 employees, the magazine reports. At the onset of the investigation in February, Kalanick, who was not directly referenced in Fowler’s blog post, called the events she detailed “abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in.”

Plaza Hotel employees: “If you keep fighting, eventually you’ll see the sun on the other side,” Dana Lewis told TIME.

Lewis is joined by Veronica Owusu, Gabrielle Eubank, Crystal Washington, Paige Rodriguez, Sergeline Bernadeau, and Kristina Antonova, who sued the New York City Plaza Hotel for “normalizing and trivializing sexual assault” with its employees. The Plaza’s parent company, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts said it takes “appropriate remedial action where warranted” in cases of harassment or discrimination.

Other figures featured in the piece include an anonymous hospital worker, journalist Jane Merrick, producer Zelda Perkins, British Parliament member Terry Reintke, charity worker Bex Bailey, journalist Sandra Muller, former dishwasher Sandra Pezqueda, art curator Amanda Schmitt, University of Rochester professors Celeste Kidd and Jessica Cantlon, director Blaise Goodbe Lipman, food blog-editor Lindsey Reynolds, and strawberry picker Isabel Pascual (whose name was changed to protect her family’s privacy).

See TIME‘s full Person of the Year feature here.

From: Harper’s BAZAAR US