Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault
It has been two months since San Francisco housing activist Sasha Perigo spoke out about being raped by local activist Jon Jacobo. At that time, our board issued a call-to-action to condemn sexual abuse, assault, harassment and predatory behavior across political lines and stature in San Francisco’s political circles. Today, we’re following up with an additional statement and asks of our political community because former elected officials and community leaders are ushering Jacobo back into public life, promoting a culture in which sexual assault is permissible and putting additional women+ at risk. Doing so without addressing and/or fully investigating the claims against him is shameful and unacceptable – whether in this instance or in the case of other abusers who have and continue to exist in San Francisco politics. Our board demands that people who rape and abuse women+, no matter their tenure or how much their perceived contribution to the community, be cast out of political life. We cannot continue to perpetuate a culture in San Francisco that protects predators.
Since we published our first statement, other women have come forward to our organization regarding their own experiences with Jacobo. The size and scale of harm alleged is greater than anyone knew, but Sasha’s account should have been enough to cast out an abuser. How many women+ need to be harmed or come forward before an abuser can be held accountable?
We demand that people within the community do right by all the survivors of Jacobo’s abuse. By continuing to try to normalize Jacobo and uplifting him within communities throughout San Francisco, the message being sent is that violence against women is permissable. And that abusive men in politics have nothing to lose and will face no consequences for their harmful behavior. This puts women+ throughout our community at risk. We all must band together to end this cycle of violence in San Francisco politics.
Protection of abusers and rapists conveys to survivors that the trauma inflicted upon them does not matter. It dismisses the experience of survivors, is triggering for survivors, and is demeaning to all women+.
The SFWPC board calls on the San Francisco political community — particularly those in positions of leadership, influence and power — to take the following actions against all abusers, including Jon Jacobo:
- Demand abusers acknowledge and fully own the harm they have caused and seek rehabilitory care. This is the first step of restorative justice — admitting that the abuser has a problem, acknowledging the harm they caused, and getting the help that is needed to correct their harmful behaviors. An abuser must invest time and energy in working on themselves to ensure they do not hurt anyone else. This is the priority over their return to public life — period.
- Ban abusers from any and all events in San Francisco. If a known abuser RSVPs to your event, reach out and tell them they are not welcome at the event. If they come anyway, ask them to leave as soon as possible. If they come as the guest of someone with influence and/or power, ask their enabler to leave, too. People who enable and empower abusers are part of the problem.
- Remove and ban abusers from participating in any political or community organizations in a leadership capacity. Abusers should not be uplifted as leaders – full stop. This includes being removed from any public facing roles in a volunteer or professional capacity. Leadership is a privilege and elevating abusers and allowing them to hold positions of power tells the community those they’ve harmed are not valued in public life, future victims and survivors aren’t as valuable as the abuser. This is unacceptable. We demand leaders who ensure that survivors feel safe, not retriggered or dismissed.
- Voice your condemnation of violence against women and take steps to make it a tenet of your policy agenda. As we have stated in the past, silence is complicity, and we need our leaders to address the pervasive issue of violence against women as it is an issue that has either directly affected us or women in our lives — 1 in 3 women have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. Your voices and the actions you take matter. Please voice your support for believing women+ and believing survivors and condemning all forms of violence against women – including sexual, psychological, emotional and physical abuse.
Abuse is pervasive when there is silence and we will not be silent. The SFWPC board is committed to continuing to shine a light on this issue within San Francisco’s political community and will continue to demand accountability and justice. If the four calls-to-action outlined above are not met with the desired action, we will continue to bring transparency to what’s going on and continue our drumbeat for justice.
We acknowledge that it is not always widely known when someone is accused of or has committed abuse. We invite members of the community to let us know if our organization has unintentionally promoted or invited an abuser to an event so we can ensure that it doesn’t happen in the future. Moving forward, SFWPC is exploring how best to ensure transparency and accountability regarding abusive behavior in our endorsement process and beyond.
SFWPC strives to be a source of support for women+ in San Francisco and welcomes anyone who would like to reach out to us about Jacobo or any case dealing with abuse in the political community. You can connect with us via our social channels or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are here to support you but it is also important to also get proper professional support. If you have experienced sexual assault in San Francisco and need assistance, the city has information and resources available. Additional resources and hotlines to call for 24 hour assistance, crisis counseling, and other support services can be found here.