Former First Lady Michelle Obama offered her perspective on the bevy of sexual assault allegations that have permeated every industry from Hollywood to Capitol Hill, as the list of attackers accumulates weekly.
Delivering a speech on Thursday in Hartford, Connecticut, Obama said the slew of reports were hard to bear.
“I can’t tell you how sick it makes me, the more I see the uncovering of the truth that all us women know has been out there, that there is an ugliness there,” she said according to PEOPLE.
Obama also urged her male counterparts to shun complacency in light of awareness.
“If we want young women to be strong and have voices and advocate for themselves, then we have to realize how much work we have to do,’’ Obama continued. “And I’m talking to the men out there, who cannot be innocent bystanders and complacent … watching this happen.”
“I was one of the lucky ones. I am what it looks like when a girls is loved and nurtured and invested [in],” she said, alluding to her personal story of being surrounded by positive, reinforcing male figures.
Two in-depth September editorials in the New York Times and The New Yorker summarizing Hollywood mega producer Harvey Weinstein‘s alleged sexual exploits have led a mass of women and men who have come forward to name their attackers. Though sexual assault and harassment in the workplace is not a new idiom, victims have rallied together to overcome shaming and personal strife in an effort to shed light on the issue and in turn, to free other victims from silence.
Most recently in the past week, veteran journalist Charlie Rose and actor Jeffrey Tambor and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons have all been named as attackers by women who say the men used their status and privilege to incite their will.
This is Obama’s second public speech on the topic. Last year she made a riveting speech on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton where she strongly denounced Donald Trump‘s lewd comments about groping women.
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