#WhyIDidn’tReport

We all know there has been a countless amount of hashtags that dominate social media for a period of time but most of these hashtags are usually references to silly internet videos and college lifestyle posts. This hashtag circled the world of web almost instantly, pertaining to something far more serious than a silly internet meme.

#WhyIDidn’tReport was spawned from the reactions to a post from our President Trump. After Christine Blasey Ford pressed charges against Brett Kavanaugh (The newest Supreme Court Justice) for sexual assault, Trump posted a tweet which read “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn  date, time, and place!”

The tweet, posted on September 21, received over 675 thousand responses in only two days! One response was from actress and activist Alyssa Milano, who said, “I was sexually assaulted twice. Once as a teenager. I never filed a police report and it took me 30 years to tell my parents.” She explains that speaking up means reliving the worst moment in her life, meaning she would have to acknowledge her attacker's existence and allow him to re-enter her world. Even Patti Davis, daughter of Nancy and Ronald Reagan, wrote an article in response to Trump’s tweet explaining why victims do not always recall the finer details of their assault and why they do not feel they can report right away. Afterward, several men and women came forward posting their stories on Twitter, explaining why they did not feel the need to report their attacks.

Many stated it would be a he-said-she-said case or that they did not want to acknowledge it as assault until they were emotionally ready to do so. Most pertained to the key concept that strikes fear in many assault victims who are having trouble reporting: Slut shaming. Several people claimed that when they disclosed their attack to someone they were asked questions like “What were you wearing?” “Why did you let him buy you a drink?” “Why did you let him take you home?” and so on. This is an ongoing problem with victims who feel they shouldn’t speak out about their assault out of fear of receiving judgment and hatred. Most times, young women are bombarded with questions about their appearance and if there was anything they could have done to “encourage” this behavior from their attacker. This is the reaction Ford received from our own president.

Thousands have gathered to support Ford and these nasty allegations made against Kavanaugh and people have even begun protesting out loud rather than online. This social media movement has shown victims that they are not alone and are not to be shamed for reporting or not reporting their attack. The truth is that it is not uncommon for victims to hold off on reporting their attacks. Survivors do not owe an explanation as to why they do not feel comfortable voicing their assault. After living any sort of trauma a victim should not be questioned on what they could have done differently. It is not their fault nor is it their responsibility to explain what they have gone through. For you or those you may know struggling with sexual assault of any kind, remember to direct them to your local or campus resources. We are not alone.