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#Ididnotreport, but #webelieveyou

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Meg Kissack
WVoN co-editor and campaigns co-ordinator

It says something about the society we live in when rape and sexual assault survivors feel more confident sharing their stories via Twitter than reporting them to the police.

The hashtag #Ididnotreport has been trending on Twitter for three days, with people using 140 characters to share their assaults and the reasons why they did not report the crime.

Finding comfort in the fact that there are a lot of other people who have been through similar experiences and never told anyone, some have written detailed blog posts and articles.

The stories are brave, they are devastating and they are honest.

It is rare that survivors have safe space to share their stories, and while Twitter is not safe from trolls and misogynists who perpetuate myths about rape, it has become a space where people who have been sexually assaulted feel able to speak up, support each other, and even be encouraged to report it.

And a space where a lot of people can find the one thing that they are looking for – someone to believe them.

The reasons for not reporting include everything from: “I was a child and thought it was normal”; “I didn’t think it would make a difference”; “because I was young and had no one to turn to”; “because they convinced me it was my fault”; “because I felt ashamed”; to a “fear of retaliation” and “because I didn’t know what was happening at the time.”

But they all have one thing in common – a lack of faith in the justice system, and fear that they will be blamed.

In a country where we have the lowest rape conviction rate in Europe, and where people would rather use Twitter to report rape than use the services provided by the state (though they are the first to go in times of austerity), it is time for the government to act.

It is a time for them to start looking at the barriers to reporting rape and to start funding education programmes that teach children from a young age about healthy relationships and consent and above all, to start listening to survivors.

It’s great that the government has decided to fund adverts and a website that tackles teenage domestic abuse, but it’s no good if at the same time, they refuse to fund educational programmes.

On 13 March, Mumsnet launched their new campaign, ‘We Believe You’ to shine a spotlight on the prevalence of rape and sexual assault and to pull apart myths which mean that many women feel they will not be believed (see WVoN story).

Supportersinclude the Prime Minister David Cameron,  Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone and Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, Alison Saunders.

It is exactly this type of campaign which is needed if we are to make progress and dispel the myths that rape culture perpetuates (take a look at this advice from Cosmo, for example).

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was writing about rape culture, and argued that rape culture is not inevitable, and it never will be (see WVoN article), and I stand by my point.

We need to keep pressurising the government, raising awareness and making our voices even louder.

Gender inequality still persists, but we have the chance to change it.

We will not be told that we lie about rape and we will not be told that we were asking for it.

Billy Brag sums it up on Twitter where he writes ’Anyone who believes that equality has been achieved and feminism no longer matters should listen to the women at #ididnotreport’.

If you want to share your experience using #ididnotreport, you can do it anonymously using @ididnotreport1 with the password ididnotreport.

  1. This is a positive campaign which is the latest in a series of outpourings from women about rape and sexual assault. In some ways the current financial attacks on support services has served to mobilise resistance and underline why they are so necessary. We need to keep it up.

  2. vicki wharton says:

    Until the Government does something to deal with the media that spreads false rape myths – namely lads mags, tabloid papers like the Sun and porn – then they are failing to deal with the supporters of rape culture.

  3. I wholeheartedly endorse this campaign! So many of us were too small and scared, or intimidated by the perpetrators. The world needs to hear our voices.

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