A Changemaker Among Us
When you talk to a woman like Chelsea Burkett, it’s evident just how much impact the #METOO movement has had. “If nothing else, the movement has made it harder to dismiss claims… Social tides are changing so victims are enabled to come forward without the fear of being harshly judged.”
Victimized at a young age, Burkett was psychologically groomed and sexually assaulted by her teacher at a prestigious girls’ school in Los Angeles. She stayed silent. It wasn’t until years later when she read another victim’s article from her alma mater that she came forward with her truth. The story made headlines.
Burkett soon learned that this same teacher had faced similar claims at another school and was quietly let go—only to be enthusiastically recommended to her school. In the education system, it’s called Passing the Trash: Quietly passing along a perpetrator to a vulnerable new community of kids, instead of investigating or going to the authorities.
Now Burkett is on a mission to have sexual offenders in schools investigated from the very first claim, as opposed to just moving them through the school systems. She has testified in the senate on The Sexual Abuse-Free Education (SAFE) Act--a bill that would stop California schools from Passing the Trash and put legislation in place that prevents stories like her own from repeating. Though the bill has yet to pass, Burkett continues to speak out and fight alongside local senators for change.
As someone who young victims feel comfortable reaching out to for guidance, Burkett is a survivor and source of inspiration for so many who’ve followed her case. Her advice to all women: Speak up.
“Find someone you trust and speak up immediately… I wish I could shake my 16-year old self and tell her that.”
Today she is finally relieved of self-blame. Now proud of how far she’s come, Burkett describes herself as relatable, quirky, and fearless.
We’d like to add Changemaker.
If you or someone you know have been sexually assaulted, seek immediate support. Burkett credits The Rape Foundation in Santa Monica, CA for saving her life.