*Trigger Warning – This post talks about sexual assault in a candid manner.
A couple of days ago, the hashtag #IDidNotReportIt started popping up in my Twitter feed. At first I wasn’t quite sure what it was about, but the more I read, the faster it sunk in. Here were brave souls explaining in less than 140 characters about sexual assaults that they did not report.
The hashtag was started by LondonFeminist who posted it in response to the Mumsnet “We Believe You” rape-awareness campaign. #IDidNotReport took off like wild fire, with a barrage of heart-wrenching tweets…
#ididnotreport 1) because i didn’t know what had actually happened to me, until almost a year later 2) because i froze up
#Ididnotreport because I did not know it was unacceptable for the man I loved to physically abuse me. I was taught to be loyal to a fault.
#ididnotreport that girl… woman? … girl… because who would believe girl-on-girl sexual assault? I didn’t even believe it, at the time.
I wrote an
#ididnotreport tweet and then I deleted it. Says it all really.
While the tweets I read both angered and upset me (yet sadly, didn’t shock me), it was encouraging to read ones from people offering support and solidarity (#WeBelieveYou). The tweets also felt somewhat cathartic for me, as somebody who had a questionable sexual experience in high school (and I still find myself thinking back, trying to make sense of it all).
What really resonated with me was the sheer amount of people who did not report their sexual assaults. The fact that I identify as a feminist has caused more than a few people to laugh in my general direction, asking why feminism is even relevant anymore. I’d say #IDidNotReport would be an excellent reminder.
#ididnotreport feed results in a mixture of sympathy, revulsion and downright fury. Want to get why feminism matters? Read it.
Women (and men) repeatedly mentioned how even if they did report it (#IDidReportIt), many were ignored. There was nobody to listen and believe them. And in some instances, many ended up being penalized for reporting being sexually assaulted. For all the liberation and empowerment that feminism has fought for, we still have a long way to go. Not only do we need to continue to break down and demolish the rape culture that is a part of our society, but in the meantime, we need to support and encourage all victims of sexual assault/violence to speak up.
I understand the fear, I truly do. But if a Twitter hashtag is any indication, we need to be providing a better safety net and security system to allow more people to speak up and out about their experiences.
For now, there are some good resources available for those in need. Please check them out below, and feel free to leave suggestions for others in the comments.
RAINN: The nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization
Stop Street Harassment: “Stop Street Harassment is a resource center where visitors can access lists of statistics, articles, films, and campaignsaround street harassment as well as ideas for action to stop street harassment in their community.”