by Sadie Jemmett
About a year ago I received a phone call from my close friend, Mhairi Morrison.
Mhairi lives in Los Angeles and I live in the UK so we don’t get to see each other regularly and calls are precious. Right away I could tell that something was wrong, she didn’t sound her usual energetic self, she sounded distant and scared, her voice was quieter than normal
It was right around the time that the initial Weinstein allegations had begun and the #metoo movement was in full swing.
Mhairi told me that 18 years ago, just a few months after we had both graduated from drama school in Paris, she had been drugged and sexually assaulted/or raped (she can’t remember) by an extremely prominent and famous French film director.
Needless to say I was horrified. This was the first time Mhairi had told me her story. She had hidden it for 18 years … for 18 years my dear, sweet friend had not felt that she could tell even her closest friends about this appalling and terrifying experience.
After our conversation ended I felt a surge of anger, anger that this act, that took place 18 years ago, had put my friend back into this frightened, ashamed and silenced state. I felt that my friend needed help to find her voice again so that she could come though this and tell her story, and so I wrote her a song: Don’t Silence Me, to remind her that she had a voice and that she was in control of it.
I thought about what I wanted to say to this person who had violated my friend in such a way and ‘take your hands off my sister’ were the first words that came to me.
They were direct and to the point.
I chose the word ‘sister’, because Mhairi is a woman, it could just as well of been ‘brother’, because rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone in any profession of all ages from cultures all over the world.
Mhairi and I want the words of this song to help victims to find their voices, especially in those moments when they feel too afraid or too ashamed or too bullied by others to be able to speak.
We hope that in those moments they will be able to listen to this song, watch this video and feel heard and believed.
And, eventually, they will be able to sing their truth, even if they can’t speak it.