State Representative Holly Rehder has been sharing her story on social media about being sexually abused at the age of 11 by her grandfather.
She recently told the St. Louis Post Dispatch the allegations of widespread sexual misconduct by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weistein brought back dark childhood memories.
Rehder’s hoping her story helps change the playing field for sexual predators. “What world changing could we do if we made it to where the shame was on the perpetrator, not on the victim, and that people were apt to speak up, and tell, than to not,” said Rehder.
She told family members about her grandfather’s abuse the next day. Her grandfather was never charged with a crime, but he did seek treatment before he died.
It was only recently that Rehder spoke out about sexual assault committed against her sister and her mom by her mother’s boyfriend.
She’s been spreading those memories through #metoo on social media, which gained traction last month in the wake of the allegations against Weinstein. Rehder was 10 when the abuse against her sister and mother took place.
The Sikeston Republican, who also spoke out about her family struggles with opioid abuse, says it’s her calling to spread the word if it serves a purpose. “God has given me a microphone,” Rehder said. “And I’ve said many times that he didn’t give me a microphone to keep my mouth shut.”
Rehder’s bill creating a prescription drug monitoring program to battle the opioid crisis narrowly failed in the legislature this year.
As far as the battle against sexual misconduct, Rehder thinks think’s progress can be made if other women follow her lead in speaking out. “When we start talking about these things, people will be less apt to be abusers, because they’ll be afraid they’re going to get told on.”
Missourinet affiliate KSSZ interviewed Representative Rehder and provided content for this story