About one year after the #MeToo movement became a rallying cry for survivors of sexual harassment and assault to speak out, some victims are using another hashtag to explain why they stayed silent about their experiences.
Twitter was aflame Friday with the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, which came in reaction to a tweet early in the day from President Donald Trump attacking Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were in high school. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied Ford’s story.
It is well-documented that the majority of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, and that there are a variety of reasons why victims choose not to say anything. Trump, who has dismissed as liars the 19 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, claimed in a tweet that Ford would have reported the alleged attack to authorities if it had been “as bad as she says.”
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), two out of every three sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Reasons for the lack of reportage vary; RAINN’s statistics say 20% of victims fear retaliation, 13% believe the authorities would not do anything to help and 13% believe it is a personal matter.
Trump’s tweet prompted hundreds of people to share exactly why they did not report their rapes and assaults. Alyssa Milano, an actor and prominent #MeToo activist, addressed Trump directly.
Ashley Judd, one of the high-profile actors who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, also shared her story. Judd said she shared her experiences with adults who dismissed her by siding with her attackers.
Several of the accounts shared Friday echo Judd’s story. Abigail Hauslohner, a reporter for The Washington Post and a former TIME correspondent, said the only person she ever told about her rape said to her, “He would never do that.”
“I didn’t think anyone would help me,” she tweeted.
Even more stories emerged as Friday went on, revealing how difficult it can be for victims to come forward.
Others shared that even after they came forward, they received blame instead of help. The actor and activist Daryl Hannah said she did report her assault — and that it “didn’t matter.”
“I was dismissed, disparaged, & I still get blamed,” she said.
Stories from other people revealed a similar experience.
By Friday afternoon, #WhyIDidntReport was one of the top trending topics on Twitter as people came together in solidarity.