Before the #MeToo movement drew attention to the ubiquity of sexual assault, Iyonah Fard, 23, had already made a ripple in what’s become a nationwide push to hold sexual predators accountable.
While attending a cousin’s funeral in September, the North Jersey resident was surprised to see the man she said molested her as a child. It had been 13 years since she last saw her aunt’s ex-boyfriend, Robert Foster. Fard was frequently looked after by her aunt her while her mother worked overnight shifts. Foster would often be in the home.
Fard said the assaults began when she was 6 years old and occurred regularly throughout four years. She shared that he had threatened to share her dirty underwear with her classmates at the time to coerce her into silence. As the years went on, Fard said it was just a matter of time before he began raping her, which is when she told her mother.
Although Fard’s mom pursued charges against Foster, he was eventually imprisoned for an unrelated conviction, which consequentially disrupted the case. When Fard was 14 years old, her mother passed away. None of her other relatives believed her.
The Australian Childhood foundation found that 1 in 3 parents would not believe their child if they claimed they were being sexually abused. Yet, the NSW Community Council reports that in 98 percent of child abuse cases reported to officials, the allegations from children are true.
Thirteen years after being molested, Fard made a decision to hold her abuser accountable in front of her family and thousands of others.
“It’s a time and a place for everything so I’m trying to be strong,” she can be heard saying at her late cousin’s repast while getting up to approach Foster, who she refers to as Lance. “But I want to introduce y’all to somebody.”
In front of the camera, she confronts Foster about the first time she said he molested her. She was in bed with her cousins and brother.
“You remember that Lance?” she asks. “Remember when you was touching on me and you went to wash my drawers out? When you told me not to tell my aunts and put a quarter in my pocket?”
Fard even mentions to Foster that she’s seen his name in a sex offender database.
Foster said nothing throughout the entire video. Fard said the silence continued even after throwing a plate of food in his face, which the camera did not capture.
Although the original video was posted in September, it went viral after another Instagram user shared her video this week. The post has since received more than 100,000 views. By posting the video, Fard said she sought the emotional support that she hasn’t received from family, aside from her late mother.
“Sometimes, I would have to question myself,” she told EBONY on Wednesday. “[Ask] if I was telling the truth because no one would believe me.”
“I was looking for some kind of closure because, to this day, I still can’t find [anybody] in my family that believes me,” she continued. “I felt like this would be a way for other people to hear my story since my own family wasn’t trying to listen.”
There was no dearth of solace Fard sought in the responses she received. Hundreds of users commented on the post to express their support and applaud Fard’s tenacity. But when it comes to her family, the video had no such effect. Three months after Fard posted the video, her relatives still have yet to discuss the traumatic experiences she shared with social media.
“Nobody wanted to talk about what I was saying to him,” she said.
Another motivator behind her revelation was to show girls who’ve also been sexually abused that they have an ally. Fard, the mother of a 3-year-old son, also wants to work toward ensuring children know when they are being violated and feel comfortable reporting the abuse to an adult.
She also plans on using her experiences to educate parents of the Boys and Girls Club of Newark about warning signs of sexual abuse. She’s even working on a book based on her trauma.
“There’s not about to be a day off,” she said of her planned endeavors.