Why Do We Report Abuse Online? Announcing Tweet Chat 3/22 3PM at #EndTheSilence about #IDidNotReport

The Twitter hashtag #IDidNotReport has been trending for over a week now.  After being started by an English blogger called "The London Feminist," men and women alike have been taking to the social network to share their stories of abuse and their reasons for not reporting the crime when it happened. But they're reporting it now.  The tweets range from "because my parents said his touches were "innocent", he just misses having a daughter" to "I always thought that I don't actually have a story. Then I realized that I do. #IDidNotReport because I thought it was my fault." There are dozens of heartbreaking and telling stories playing out all over the Twitterverse right now, showing what sexual violence and abuse really looks like, from the keyboards and memories of thousands of men, women, and children all over the world. One of the most touching parts of the campaign is the chance for anonymity.  Instead of tweeting your story from your twitter handle, you are able to log into a twitter account specifically for sharing abuse stories anonymously.   The shame and stigma attached to victims of sexual violence is global.  In some countries, the victim is seen as being dirty and no longer fit for marriage.  Recently in Morocco, a 16 year old victim of rape was forced to marry her rapist, a legal way of restoring her "honor" and exonerating him.  She killed herself by drinking rat poison.  In Western countries, victims are often simply not believed.  On every corner of the earth, the victim is blamed in a myriad of ways.  In essence, there is no relief.  And to make matters worse, even in countries that do recognize sexual violence as a public health epidemic, when economic and financial hardship hits, services for such survivors are the first to go. Every single day, three women are killed by husbands or boyfriends.  In 2010, over half of domestic violence victims who identified as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer) were turned away from NY shelters.  Between 2005 and 2009, U.S. attorneys declined to prosecute 67% of sexual abuse and related matters that occurred in areas controlled by Native American tribes. Here at home, such services are being targeted by right-wing ideologues.  While this worldwide epidemic of sexual violence attacks mostly women, but also men and children, Republicans in Congress are opposing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.   As I've written before, this legislation "is literally the centerpiece of our national efforts to combat domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  Since this bill was originally enacted, reporting of domestic violence has increased by as much as 51 percent.  To say that this piece of legislation is a triumph and a necessary component to our efforts to ensure the safety and security of our citizens would be an understatement."  Reauthorization of this bill would improve programs to assist victims, aid prosecutors, and focus more time, attention, and resources on underserved communities such as those identifying as LGBTQ or Native American, both of whom are more likely to be victimized than others. There's too much silence and too much confusion in our communities and in our culture about sexual assault and rape.  We talk about it poorly, so perpetrators don't understand that rape isn't about whether they did or did not use violence, but instead, whether the victim did or did not consent.  We illustrate it poorly, so that our youth believes gender-based violence is cool, or sexy, or not a big deal.  We prosecute it poorly, blaming the victim for the criminal actions of their assaulter. Why?  Why are we all so stigmatized, ignored, brushed over, and blamed when we do report abuse?  How did we get to a place where the safety and security and well-being of our citizens wasn't the number one priority for our government, our society, and our community? It is time to end the silence.  Join @Fem2pt0 and others at this Thursday, March 22 at 3:00 PM EST to talk about these and other issues. We'll be discussing the conversation taking place at #IDidNotReport, but in order to respect the space of survivors who are speaking out, we'll talk at a different hashtag: #EndTheSilence.  Only by bringing these stories into the light and by actively engaging in community discussion can we start to end the stigma, the blame, and the violence that too many of us are experiencing every day.  If you have ideas to promote, resources to share, or even just a concern about these crimes, check in with us at #EndTheSilence tomorrow at 3PM.

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  • http://Website A survivor

    It’s so great that you’re working to shine a light on the underreporting of sexual assaults and abuse. I’ve been following the #Ididnotreport tag for a while now, and it is both heartbreaking and
    devastating. However, I do have a few concerns about you hosting your tweetchat using the #ididnotreport tag.

    The timeline of #ididnotreport, whether the creator is a survivor or not, has
    been driven and used by survivors. Its so rare to have such a unique space where
    content and stories are truly survivor centric within the public realm. The
    added protection of anonymity for survivors has given countless survivors, like
    myself an opportunity to write words we may never be able to say out loud.
    Survivors voices are already ignored and denied. Even the brave survivors who
    seek counseling and support feel like their voices are even diminished by their
    advocates and well intentioned friends. I’d truly hate to see this tag
    co-opted and no longer be survivor driven.

    There is ample opportunity to share ideas, share stories, engage around building
    a broader community discussion without everyone using the tag #ididnotreport.
    Perhaps instead you can encourage others to read the tag and @ididnotreport
    timeline and use a different hashtag for your chat.

    Reading the timeline myself, I found myself becoming re-traumatized. The trigger
    warnings and safety of anonymity did not protect me from flashbacks and
    sleepless nights these past two weeks. So whatever your conversation be sure to
    do your best to be as trauma informed and survivor centered as possible. You
    want to help bring these stories into the light, but for many of us, tweeting
    our story in 140 characters or less did that, our stories are trending.
    That’s more support than I ever imagined getting when I hit send.

    I hope that the tweetchat goes well tomorrow, maybe I’ll even tweet
    thoughts from my personal handle. But I hope you use a different hashtag to
    track the conversation and allow the #ididnotreport tag to remain (as much as
    possible) survivor driven content.

    Best,

    A survivor

  • admin

    Thank you for your thoughts. We put this question to a broader community of supporters and ultimately agreed with you, that better safe than sorry. We’ve changed the conversation to be at #EndtheSilence instead, so that we are sure to respect that space for survivors. Thank you again for bringing your concerns to our attention.

    - The Fem2.0 Team