Sexual Assault Victims Share their #WhyIdidn’tReport Stories on Twitter

Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, 1 out of every 6 women have been a victim of an attempted or committed rape in the United States. 1 in 10 rape victims will be men and while those numbers don’t seem very high, since 1998, 2.78 million men have been victims of attempted or completed rape. Meanwhile, only 6 out of 1,000 perpetrators are caught.

The hashtag #WhyIDidn’tReport is trending on Twitter currently for a good reason. With our new Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh, recently facing sexual assault charges from multiple women, people have been sharing their stories all over the internet using this hashtag. Thousands and thousands of men and women have come together and have supported each other as they share their stories and a part of themselves.

This movement directly relates to one that was started about a year ago called the #MeToo movement. Where people went to Twitter to publicly discuss stories of abuse, sexual harassment or assault. Yes, both these hashtags sound like they are addressing the same issue, but the #WhyIDidn’tReport answers the question “Why didn’t you say something sooner?”.

It all started when a women by the name of Christine Blasey Ford took the United States by storm when she accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her about 35 years ago, when they were teenagers. Whether or not these allegations are true is under debate, but it has sparked a unity of people who now do not have to stand alone. It will give people the courage to stand out and they will know they have a strong supporting cast behind them.

One Twitter user by the name of Jennifer Stove said “because after saying “no” so many times and him still relentlessly trying to convince me, I gave in. So I thought that was me giving consent even though I didn’t want to. Really it was coercion…but no one else would see it that way.” This is just one example of many that exemplify what these survivors have to go through and it gives them a platform to speak their mind.

This hashtag has changed the way people think about rape and sexual assault as they have started calling themselves survivors instead of victims. One definition of the term survivor is “a person who copes well with difficulties in their life”.

Rape and sexual assault are things that can traumatize someone for their entire life, and while they may not receive justice, this new movement gives them the chance to relieve some of the emotions they have bottled in. For some people, it may look like something that is not that big of a deal, but for others it could be life changing.

“It may take a survivor a while to process that trauma, and even to identify what has happened,” said Carolyn M. West, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington who has written and spoken extensively about sexual abuse and trauma. We do have to take this information into account, but there has to be evidence because people will accuse even if it isn’t true.

It is common for survivors to blame themselves for the events that have occured because of what they were wearing or how they acted. It is one of the only crimes where the victim is doubted immediately and that needs to change. It is never the survivors fault and should not be viewed in this way.

Social media is often a place where people take to to bully or judge other people, but in this case it gives people a sense of hope and unity. These social media movements are amazing because they allow hundreds of thousands of people sharing their story and letting others and themselves know that they aren’t alone.

Survivors of these attacks should be heard, whether or not they will receive justice,  the fact that they can receive support is an amazing thing. It has helped unify people in a way that was unexpected but much needed and social media should be used in this manner more often. Do not ever let rape or sexual assault ruin your life, speak out, be heard.

by Matthew Stone

photo by CBS News

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