Warning: This post is about sexual assault and may cause distress for some readers.
Last year the #MeToo movement used social media as a powerful protest tool.
Those who were ready to speak about their experiences of sexual assault and abuse went public with their stories, and people were forced to take notice.
You may have seen another hashtag go viral over the weekend. This time, it aims to answer a question often asked of victims: Why didn’t you report it?
Thousands of women and men shared their stories of sexual assault, and why they did not report their abusers with #WhyIDidntReport.
The hashtag was trending online all weekend, and it’s no surprise that reading its messages stir up a lot of feelings: The stories are maddening, powerful and heartbreaking.
Where did the #WhyIDidntReport hashtag come from?
People shared the challenges in reporting abuse after United States President Donald Trump took to his very public diary, Twitter, to question why Professor Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, took so long to come forward.
“If the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed,” he tweeted.
Speaking to the Washington Post, Ford alleged that Kavanaugh and a friend – both “stumbling drunk” – corralled her into a bedroom during the 1980s.
Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and attempted to remove her clothing and bathing suit. When she screamed, he covered her mouth with his hand.
She said she was able to escape when his friend, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them and sent them all tumbling. She ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.
Ford told no one of the incident until 2012, when she and her husband were in couples therapy.
Earlier this year she wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging the assault. In the early weeks of September, she watched her story be told without her name or consent.
She decided to come forward: If her story was going to be told, she wanted to be the one to do it.
In a statement to the Post, Kavanaugh “categorically and unequivocally” denied the allegation.
As Ford’s lawyers negotiated to give her more time to decide if she would give testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Trump shared a number of tweets.
He had earlier tweeted that Kavanaugh was “a fine man, with an impeccable reputation, who is under assault by radical left wing politicians.”