We will not be broken: Katie Hill

Scandal-hit politician Katie Hill has given a stirring speech against after her final vote as a US Congresswoman.

She had earlier pledged to work outside elected office to tackle the scourge of revenge porn and an associated culture of misogynistic control that is threatened by powerful women in public life.

She told Congress:

“This is the last speech that I will give from this floor as a member of Congress.  I wasn’t ready for my time here to come to an end so soon. It’s a reality I am still grappling with and I will be for a long time to come.

I expected or I at least hoped to still be here for as long as the voters of California’s 25th district deemed me worthy of the honour of representing them.

I thought I could make a difference here, in making our community, our great country, and the world a better place for generations to come.  I, like so many of my colleagues, ran for office because I believed that our political system was broken. Controlled by the powerful and the wealthy, ignoring and failing the regular people that it is supposed to serve.

I came here to give a voice to the unheard in the halls of power. I wanted to show young people, queer people, working people, imperfect people that they belong here because this is the people’s house. I fell short of that, and I’m sorry.

To every young person who saw themselves and their dreams reflected in me: I’m sorry.

To those who felt like I gave them hope in one of the darkest times in our nation’s history, I’m sorry.

To my family, my friends, my staff, my colleagues, my mentors – to everyone who has supported and believed in me, I’m sorry

To the thousands of people who spent hours knocking doors in the hot summer sun, who made countless phone calls and who sacrificed more than I could ever know to give everything they could in every possible way so that I could be here: I am so so sorry. And to every little girl who looked up to me – I hope that one day you can forgive me.

The mistakes I made and the people I’ve hurt that led to this moment will haunt me for the rest of my life and I have to come to terms with that. Ever since those images first came out I’ve barely left my bed. I’ve ignored all the calls and the texts – I went to the darkest places that a mind can go and I’ve shed more tears than I thought were possible.  I’ve hidden from the world because I’m terrified of facing the people that I let down.

But I made it through because the people who love me most dragged me back into the light and reminded me that I was stronger than that.  To those of you who were by my side in my worst moments, you know who you are. I love you, I am so grateful and I will never forget.

And I am here today because so many of the people that I let down – people close to me, supporters, colleagues, people I have never even met told me to stand back up. And that despite all of my faults they still believed in me and they were still counting on me. And I realised that hiding away and disappearing would be the one unforgiveable sin.

I will never shirk my responsibility for this sudden ending to my time here. But I have to say more because this is bigger than me.

I am leaving now because of a double standard.

I am leaving because I no longer want to be used as a bargaining chip.

I am leaving because I didn’t want to be peddled by papers and blogs and websites, used by shameless operatives for the dirtiest gutter politics that I have ever seen and the right-wing media to drive clicks and expand their audience by distributing intimate photos of me taken without my knowledge let alone my consent for the sexual entertainment of millions.  I am leaving because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalised on my sexuality, and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse – this time with the entire country watching.

I am leaving because of the thousands of vile threatening emails, calls and texts that made me fear for my life and the lives of the people that I care about.

Today is the first time I have left my apartment since the photos, taken without my consent, were released and I’m scared. I am leaving because for the sake of my community, my staff, my family and myself I can’t allow this to continue.  Because I’ve been told that people were angry when I stood strong after the first article was posted, and that they had hundreds more photos and text messages that they would release bit by bit until they broke me down to nothing while they used my faults and my past to distract from the things that matter most.

I am leaving because there is only one investigation that deserves the attention of this country – and that is the one that we voted on today.

Today I ask you all to stand with me and commit to creating a future where this no longer happens to women and girls. Yes I’m stepping down but I refuse to let this experience scare off other women who dare to take risks, who dare to step into this light, who dare to be powerful.  It might feel like they won in the short term but they can’t in the long term. We cannot let them.

The way to overcome this setback is for women to keep showing up, to keep running for office, to keep stepping up as leaders. The more we show up the less power they have.

I am leaving but we have men who have been credibly accused of intentional acts of sexual violence and remain in boardrooms, on the Supreme Court, in this very body and worst of all in the Oval Office.

So the fight goes on to create the change that every woman and girl in this country deserves.

Here in the halls of Congress the fight will go on without me and I trust so many of my colleagues to be strong on this front while I move on to one of the many other battlefields – because we have an entire culture that has to change and we see it in stark clarity today.

The forces of revenge by a bitter jealous man, cyber exploitation and sexual shaming that target our gender – and a large section of society that fears and hates powerful women – have combined to push a young woman out of power and say that she doesn’t belong here.

Yet a man who brags about his sexual predation, who has had dozens of women come forward to accuse him of sexual assault, Who pushes policies that are uniquely harmful to women and who has filled the courts with judges who proudly rule to deprive women of the most fundamental right to control their own bodies sits in the highest office of the land.  And so today as my last vote I voted on impeachment proceedings – not just because of corruption, obstruction of justice, or gross misconduct, but because of the deepest abuse of power, including the abuse of power over women.  Today as my final act I voted to move forward with the impeachment of Donald Trump on behalf of the women of the United States of America.

We will not stand down.

We will not be broken.

We will not be silenced.

We will rise.

And we will make tomorrow better than today.

 

In a written statement on her twitter she also explained:

It is with a broken heart that today I announce my resignation from Congress. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I believe it is the best thing for my constituents, my community and our country.

This is what needs to happen so that the good people who supported me will no longer be subjected to the pain inflicted by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives who seem to happily provide a platform to a monster who is driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation. Having private photos of personal moments weaponised against me has been an appalling invasion of my privacy. It is also illegal, and we are currently pursuing all of our available legal options. However I know that as long as I am in Congress, we will live fearful of what might come next and how much it will hurt. That’s a feeling I know all too well. It is the feeling I decided to leave when I left my marriage, and one I will not tolerate being forced upon others. I can no longer allow my community, family, friends, staff, supporters and especially the children who look up to me as a role model, to suffer this unprecedented brand of cruelty.

For the mistakes made along the way and the people who have been hurt, I am so sorry. And I am learning: I am not a perfect person and never pretended to be. It’s one of the things that made my race so special. I hope it showed others that they do belong, that their voice does matter, and that they do have a place in this country. That is something I believe with all my heart.

Those of you who know me personally know that I’m a fighted. And it’s thanks to countless other fighters who supported me that we were able to stand up for the ideals we believe in. Now, my fight is goin to be to defeat this type of exploitation that so many women are victims to and which will keep countless women and girls from running for office or entering public light. Thank you for allowing me to turn my focus to this particular battle right now, and know that I stand with you as we continue to fight for the many important issues that brought me to Congress in the first place.

I love this country. I love all of you. And I thank you for allowing me the great honour of serving you.

This short cspan clip from twitter has her speech in full:

Following her resignation a byelection for the 25th district is expected to be held on March 3rd next year.