Actress Dakota Johnson is using her celebrity status to give sexual assault victims, whose stories often go unheard, a chance to share their stories.
The Peanut Butter Falcon star announced the launch of her new podcast, The Left Ear, a weekly show that shares stories from survivors who have experienced sexual assault, abuse, and other traumas.
In a recent Instagram post, she said,
“One year ago I asked women and girls around the world to call me and leave a voicemail telling their stories of sexual violence, harassment, and gender-based inequalities. I didn’t want to speak on their behalf, I wanted to listen to them.”
Last year, while attending the Global Citizen Festival (an annual music festival that works to combat extreme poverty), Johnson shared a phone number with the audience, which she later posted on Instagram.
“Women and girls in every corner of the world face extreme violence and sexual harassment on a daily basis. Over 800 women and adolescent girls die every day because they do not have access to reliable contraceptives and basic maternity services.” She wrote in the caption. “I don’t want to speak for you. I want to listen to you. This is my phone number. Tell me your story in my voicemail, and I will listen. Together with @glblctzn I will compile your stories and get your voices heard.”
The podcast will consist of the voicemails that were sent to Dakota over the past year. And according to the website, The Left Ear will be used as an “introduction into non-judgemental listening, and a space of refuge and healing for the survivors who called in droves in order to finally share their stories.”
What Dakota is doing is a huge deal. She’s giving a voice to people who have experienced something traumatic and she’s giving them the space to speak about their experience on their terms, free of judgment and victim-blaming.
According to RAINN, victims of sexual violence can experience, depression, PTSD, as well as flashbacks. It’s a testament of strength that these women found the courage to come forward and share their stories with not just Dakota but to the world.
In her Instagram post promoting the podcast, she informed listeners that even though the voicemails are difficult to hear, listening to them is one of the most powerful things they can do.
“These are real stories from real people around the world. Listening to these stories can feel very intense. So please take care of yourself if choose to listen. And I hope you do choose to listen because listening is the most important thing you can do for someone. I want to create a space where the listener is listening just as honestly and bravely as the speakers who had the courage to call.”
And why did Dakota call her podcast The Left Ear?
Your left ear is the ear closest to your heart. And by listening with your heart, you can save someone even just a little bit.
You can listen to the first episode of the podcast now — which clocks in at around 12 minutes — and new episodes will be uploaded every Monday starting on October 7.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence, you can call RAINN’s hotline at 1-800-656-4673.