Just last year, #MeToo paved the way for sexual assault survivors to share their stories with the world. Now another hashtag has been created, this one sharing the reasons why many sexual assault survivors never come forward with their assault. Through #WhyIDidntReport, sexual assault survivors are showing the world just how difficult it is to report their assault to authorities and even their own families and close friends, as many survivors are silenced through victim-blaming and trauma from assault. The trending hashtag is in response to Trump’s tweets on Friday morning that questioned why Christine Blasey Ford did not come forward decades ago when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump’s tweets exemplify one of the many victim blaming tactics people use to silence sexual assault survivors, essentially telling survivors that their assault is only valid if they report it when it happens and that if they wait “too long” to report it then they must not be telling the truth. But instead of blaming the survivor for not coming forward with their assault when it happened, people need to start focusing on the reasons why sexual assault survivors are discouraged to come forward with their assault when it happens or even at all, which is why #WhyIDidntReport was born.

Actress Alyssa Milan, who made Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement go viral in 2017, replied to Trump’s tweet by sharing the reasons why she never came forward. She then told sexual assault survivors to share their stories under her tweet using #WhyIDidntReport, which inspired thousands of survivors to share their stories, for many this being the first time.

Then other celebrities started using the hashtag to share their stories as well, causing the hashtag to soon trend on Twitter.

Catherine Blasey Ford was allegedly sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh when they both were in high school, and she has received death threats among other forms of harassment since she has come forward. The shows that the reason why so many survivors do not come forward with their assault is because of how negatively society treats them once they do. When survivors vocalize their assault they are oftentimes blamed, harassed, threatened, discouraged, ignored, and sometimes even harmed. Hopefully, with this hashtag, our society will learn to stop blaming survivors for their assault, and negating the validity of their assault if they do not come forward the second it happens.

Photo: Alexis Parker

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