Offered as an open letter to Mourdock, who has been roundly criticized for saying that pregnancies resulting from rape are "something that God intended to happen," Harris-Perry discussed her own experience as a sexual assault survivor.
"Sometimes I still flinch when I’m touched a certain way, even if it’s the loving embrace of my husband," she said. "Even some seasons of the year are harder for me. Those of us who are sexual assault survivors call these triggers. We spend our lives — the lives we lead after the attack — avoiding and managing these triggers."
Harris-Perry called out Mourdock for wanting to rob women of the right to choose, after they had already had their ability to consent taken from them with an act of rape.
"You see, Mr. Mourdock, the violation of rape is more than physical. Rapists strip women of our right to choose, of our right to say no, of our right to control what is happening to our bodies. Most assailants tell us it is our fault. They tell us to be silent. Sometimes they even tell us it’s God’s will," she said. "That is the core violation of rape– it takes away choice. Richard, you believe it is fine to ignore a women’s right to choose because of your interpretation of divinity. Sound familiar?"
In deeply personal language, she touched on the challenges of being a sexual assault survivor. "When we survive sexual assault, we are the gift. When we survive, when we go on to love, to work, to speak out, to have fun, to laugh, to dance, to cry, to live, when we do that, we defeat our attackers," she said. "For a moment, they strip us of our choices. As we heal, we take our choices back. We are the gift to ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nation when we survive."