Trigger warning: This article contains information about sexual violence which may be triggering to survivors.
Women and men are sharing their first-hand stories about rape — and reasons why they never reported the assaults — on social media, as the accusations against former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi continue. [UPDATE: As of Friday at noon, the topic was the fifth most popular in Canada, and was trending worldwide.]
The hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported surfaced on Twitter Thursday and women are using it to talk about their experiences with sexual assault.
The hashtag surfaced in a tweet by Toronto Star writer Antonia Zerbisias, who said she had been raped more than once but never came forward.
— Antonia Zerbisias (@AntoniaZ) October 30, 2014
From there, Zerbisias shared her experiences:
It was 1969 when, if you found you were the only girl in the rec room and no parents were home, it was your fault. #BeenRapedNeverReported— Antonia Zerbisias (@AntoniaZ) October 30, 2014
1970: My friend's friend from out of town "forgot his wallet" in his hotel room, it will only take a minute. #BeenRapedNeverReported— Antonia Zerbisias (@AntoniaZ) October 30, 2014
1974: A half-empty 747 to London. Traveling alone. Fell asleep in my seat in the back. Thank Dog for the stewardess. #BeenRapedNeverReported— Antonia Zerbisias (@AntoniaZ) October 30, 2014
And other users followed with their own:
I was 16, he was 22. I was drunk. #BeenRapedNeverReported— DrSexyll (@drkimalexander) October 30, 2014
I too have #BeenRapedNeverReported. Took me years to call it rape. Because I didn't want to admit it even to myself. Still can't, really.— Sex+Bex (@BexvanKoot) October 30, 2014
I'm one of many who've #BeenRapedNeverReported. Thought I was being a bad girlfriend the first time. Only way to make him leave the second.— Raine McLeod (@puddle_of_raine) October 30, 2014
I've #BeenRapedNeverReported because I knew I would be blamed because I had been drinking.— Edgar Allan Prole (@RaavynnDigitaL) October 30, 2014
I've #BeenRapedNeverReported twice, both by partners - men I loved. I knew my mental illness would be brought up & I'd be "crazy/bitter".— hex grl ♀ (@borderlinefemme) October 30, 2014
I was attacked and reported it. My attacker went to prison. I know what it takes to speak out & I salute you all. #beenrapedneverreported— Judith Clegg (@judithclegg) October 30, 2014
Other hashtags such as #IBelieveLucy and #IBelieveThem have gathered momentum in recent days since the Ghomeshi allegations broke, as the conversation around the problems with supporting victims of sexual assault victims comes to the forefront.
In a first-hand account of her experience with Jian Ghomeshi, where she says Ghomeshi became sexually violent and aggressive with her, Reva Seth shares her reasons for not reporting the incident. She wanted to go on with her life, she says.
"And even if I had wanted to do something, as a lawyer, I'm well aware that the scenario was just a "he said/she said" situation. I was aware that I, as a woman who had had a drink or two, shared a joint, had gone to his house willingly and had a sexual past, would be eviscerated. Cultural frameworks on this are powerful."
This week, however, we're starting to see how equally powerful the sharing of stories can be.
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