WOMEN

Cecile Richards Opened Up About Being Sexually Assaulted As A Young Woman

The Planned Parenthood president appeared at Tina Brown's Women in the World Salon on Monday.

12/06/2017 10:44 EST

Cecile Richards had a “me too” moment onstage Monday night.

The president of Planned Parenthood appeared at Tina Brown’s Women in the World Salon in Dallas. Richards and Brown, who conducted the interview, discussed women’s health care, Richards’ leadership this past year and, of course, the recent viral #MeToo conversation around sexual harassment and sexual assault.

When Brown asked if Richards had ever been sexually harassed, Richards responded with a laugh and said, “Of course! What woman has not been sexually harassed?” 

Richards didn’t go into a lot of detail about the incident, but she said she was sexually assaulted by a lawyer she worked for when she was younger. 

“I feel like I had to talk about it because at the time —and of course it’s shameful now to say — I was terrified of losing that job opportunity,” she said. “Working in the summer, working for a lawyer who was like titanic, being sexually assaulted … who was going to believe me?”

She said she had a lot of shame at the time of the incident, but is speaking up now in order to create change. 

“I think it’s important that we do share our stories and that we don’t let this repeat for our daughters and for another generation,” she said. “I think a lot of us have a lot of shame about the incidences and about the fact that we didn’t do more at the time.” 

Earlier in the conversation, Brown asked Richards the question many people have been wondering: Will the #MeToo movement truly effect change or will the culture of sexual violence go back to what it always has been once a few predators are ousted?  

“It’s not going to be enough if just folks topple and men take their place,” Richards told Brown. “If we don’t put more women into elected office, that’s the final power source that we have to have. And, again it’s been amazing to see thousands and thousands and thousands of women running for office ... the record numbers of women winning in this most recent election. If we don’t do that all the rest of this will not matter.”

Watch the full interview below.