Interview by Anna-Claire McGrath
Shanon Lee is a contributing writer for The Huffington Post, a filmmaker, a Women’s Media Center SheSource Expert, a member of the Speakers Bureau for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) and the host of The Hush!, a blab talk show for feminist voices. Her current documentary, Art as a Voice, features five artists-activists who are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
THE FEM: You work a lot with victims of domestic abuse as a member of the Speakers Bureau for RAINN and as a filmmaker. What led you to go down that path? Why is it important that we talk about these issues?
SHANON LEE: I was a young divorcee and survivor of marital rape that went on to study clinical mental health counseling because I wanted to understand the mentality of my abuser and my relationship patterns. A decade after my divorce, my rapist started harassing me online during the height of the #IamJada movement. I felt that if a teen could be brave enough to speak out, after images of her rape were spread across social media, I could help others by sharing my story. After my essay about marital rape was published on xoJane.com, I was interviewed on HuffPost Live and invited to join the Speaker’s Bureau for RAINN. This year, I had the opportunity to submit a short film to an art event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and I loved the experience. I am a storyteller; everything I do is influenced by my life experiences and desire to advocate for other survivors. Marital rape is not only stigmatized because women are still fighting for equality, the crime is overlooked because people are uneducated about consent.