An anthem for change, What I Want to Say to You is a forward depiction of sexual assault and the its impact. Em Hoggett’s new EP presents her own experiences through a raw, unfiltered lens. After writing about an experience as personal and traumatic as sexual abuse, not everyone would have the courage to share their story with the world like Em has. “It was difficult,” Em explains, “but my motivation really comes from the hope of helping others. When I have a bad day, or feel like I really can't do it anymore, I ask myself 'why'. 'Why am I doing this? What am I doing this for?' And the answer is always 'to help others.’ It’s for them.”
Though society has improved at acknowledging sexual abuse, we still have a long way to go. People continue to dance around the subject, making excuses for causation and blaming victims for assailants’ actions. I think that’s why I was so drawn to Em and her music. More people need to be creating and consuming media with such an important message; more people need to be listening to those who have been silenced. I spoke with her about this, and her reply struck me in a way that I know I’ll remember for a long time. “I cannot change what happened to me,” she said, “but I can hopefully have an impact on the future. I can hopefully be a part of changing the culture to one which does not accept rape, one which supports survivors, one which encourages people to speak out as soon as they are abused.”
A collection of four songs with haunting piano melodies and lyrical depictions of life after sexual assault, What I Want to Say to You is a release that inspires healing and social change.
The opening track, “What I Want to Say to You,” speaks about the numbness and confusion directly following an assault. In the accompanying music video, Em depicts her everyday routine and her efforts to find normalcy.
Appropriately named “Anger,” the second track focuses on the frustration in being unable to feel anything at all—the knowledge that you were wronged, and there’s little that can be done now. It’s the first step towards healing, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Em’s vocals melt between piano keys, declaring “now I’m just angry, and I hope that you’re scared.”
“It Will Always Be Like This,” the third song off the EP, is the first step in moving forward. Em questions whether things can ever go back to the way they were before, stating “I stay up all night, wondering if you will ever go away.” After a life-changing event, I think that sentiment is something we can all relate to.
“Get Out” is the last phase of a story that never truly ends. Em declares, “I don’t want you in my body, I did not invite you in me. Get out.” The song is about reclaiming your mind and body, and taking steps to be happy again. It is prohibiting your assailant from having any more control over you.
For those who have gone through similar experiences, this EP is a signal of change and a reminder that they are not alone. All proceeds are being donated to sexual assault charities. When I asked Em if there was anything else she wanted to say, this is the answer I received:
“To those reading who have also been through sexual assault, I would like to say this: If you have never spoken about your experience, if there is even an inch of you that feels like you could tell someone, do it. I think you will be surprised at the response. But if you feel unsafe, or feel like you won't be believed, contact ME. At www.whatiwanttosaytoyou.com, I have a 'Contact Us' button, leading to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to reach out to me and share your story, because I WILL believe you. I cannot emphasize enough how speaking out changed my life and freed me. You have done nothing wrong, and you don't deserve to live a life of buried pain. Once you can speak about and accept what has happened to you, you can begin the healing process. There are so many of us, and you are not alone. Nothing you feel is 'wrong' or 'shameful.’ Rape is… inhumane. It is something beyond what the human experience should entail. Therefore, any reaction is possible… No emotion that you feel is wrong. The only thing that is wrong is what they did to you. Do not bury your feelings away, or they will eat you up from inside. Speak out, I am here to listen.”
I want to take a moment to thank Em for sharing her story, for giving a voice to those whose had been taken, and for making people listen. My heart goes out to everyone that has been a victim of sexual assault—you are strong and brave and more powerful than you know.
Ting Ting Chen