#IDidNotReport

*Trigger Warning – This post talks about sexual assault in a candid manner. 

Image via Mumsnet

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.

#Ididnotreport when he leaned on my throat and tried to rape me. He said I was a ‘tease’. I had offered him tea.#boyfriend‘s pal.

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.

Reading The #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 statisticsarticlesfilms, and campaignsaround street harassment as well as ideas for action to stop street harassment in their community.”

7 thoughts on “#IDidNotReport

  1. I don’t know if you saw mine, but I tweeted about not reporting an assault that took place at age nine because I thought my mom would believe him–the adult. I got into several conversations with other women who had been assaulted as children, and even some who did try to tell a trusted adult weren’t believed. There is no safety net if we don’t believe it could happen in our families, to our loved ones. I didn’t know that there was a #WeBelieveYou counterpoint, but I LOVE that. I wish I could have sent my abuser to prison to stop him from touching any other child, but for my personal recovery, I really needed someone to believe me. For all kinds of complicated reasons, my mom couldn’t say it until about a year ago. It’s the biggest deal. Long after the sexual issues healed, the trust remained broken. But she was finally able to listen to my story and accept that it did fit with what she remembered about that day. I will never forget how it felt, and I’m so glad we didn’t give up on each other. 17 years after my assault and 12 years after I told a single person that it had happened, I learned that “I believe you” can never come too late.

    • I didn’t see yours, but thank you for sharing your story here, Anne-Marie. I can’t even imagine going through that as a child, and I’m so glad you’ve been able to get to a better place with it re: your mom. And yes, just hearing those words “I believe you” can mean so much…for some it’s validation, for others its acceptance or even a chance to forgive themselves. much love xo

    • I’m sorry for what happened to you! What happened to me wasn’t as bad, I am sure, but your post brought it to my mind (I usually keep it in a dusty corner of my head where it is largely left alone).
      When I was a little girl, my much older adult cousin (I called him “uncle) felt me up, I slapped him across the face and then I got yelled at by my parents and sent to my room! I screamed bloody murder but nobody listened, all they knew was that I had slapped my “uncle” across the face in front of everybody and needed to be punished. Nearly 20 years later, my cousin/uncle’s name came up in conversation with my parents and whatever I had locked up in me set loose. They FINALLY HEARD ME, believed me, and apologized. It might not seem a big deal to a lot of people, but the vindication meant a lot to me, especially when I heard my mom say to another relative that this person would not be invited to family events that had anything to do with us, and WHY. But what really bugs me is that I heard he is in another country now where he is some sort of preacher. If I ever have disposable income and can travel, showing up and making him have a very bad day is on my bucket list. Sure vengeance is “bad”, but it would probably feel really good.😉

  2. It wasn’t a sexual assault, but my ex-husband put my head through the linen closet door, and I didn’t call the police. I was embarrassed to have police show up at my house. I don’t come from a family where anything like that would ever happen. And I insanely rationalized that somehow if the cops were called it would be my fault, I’d go to jail, and all of the neighbors would know. I have a college degree, a really strong mom, and a dad who would never hit a woman. Even when I found the courage to leave my ex (after he’d also punched me in my sleep several times, threatened to kill my dog, and left me sitting in the passenger seat after he jumped out of the car and ran off in traffic -twice,) I was so embarrassed to tell anyone that I had experienced any of this because I didn’t report it when it happened. My parents believed me. My best friends believed me. My lawyer believed me. I had photographs and signed affidavits, and yet I still get embarrassed and ashamed because I feel like I just let it happen. My friends tell me, “but you did leave. you did survive,” and I try to find some comfort in that. But I’m now also almost certain I’m not the first woman he did this too. He had a child with an ex-girlfriend in another state, and she left him shortly after she realized she was pregnant. She’s never asked for child support in exchange that my ex stay out of her and her son’s life. The little boy doesn’t even know my ex exists, and his mother continues to go to great lengths to keep him away. Why didn’t I ask more questions about that? Not that he would have been honest, but so many should-have-been red flags now seem to connect so many dots. If what I suspect is true, she didn’t report it either. And he’ll probably do it again.

    • It’s NOT your fault! Abusers destroy their victim’s self esteem and cause serious psychological damage. I know so many women who were afraid to leave, and afraid to tell anyone because of how badly the abuser messed with their minds in addition to the physical abuse. One of the first thing abusers like to do is to destroy their victims social support systems, they isolate their victims and it gives the abuser more control which helps to protect the abuser from being stopped. I am so glad you finally got away from him and I send you my best wishes for your healing and future happiness.

  3. I’m not on Twitter but were there lots of posts and could male victims post too? I believe it’s a gender issue and I wondered if the number of posts by women vs men would go some of the way of dampening the arguments that there’s an unknown hoard of men who suffer female-perpetrated violence. If it were the case then this hashtag would be the perfect chance to have their voices counted.

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