A single New York Magazine cover is prompting an incredibly important conversation for sexual assault survivors everywhere.
On Sunday, the magazine released a cover story of interviews with 35 out of 46 women who accuse actor Bill Cosby of sexual assault.
The magazine's cover included stunning black and white shots of each of the 35 women sitting on chairs, leaving one chair empty, symbolizing any women who have not yet come forward.
But on Twitter, the hashtag #TheEmptyChair emerged, serving as a space for men and women to speak up about victim shaming and why so many women, just like these women who came forward in Cosby's case, continue to be disbelieved.
Not only are survivors of rape, sexual assault and abuse afraid people will accuse them they're lying, but often, they delay telling authorities or remain silent because of the long process that follows coming forward. As the Globe and Mail notes, that can include being dragged through a court system, getting their loved ones involved and being forced to repeat the horrific events that happened to them over and over again.
Last fall, after allegations against former CBC Q host Jian Ghomeshi came to light, many Twitter users began using the hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported to talk about their own experiences of sexual assault and staying silent in a similar message of solidarity.
Here are some powerful tweets we saw on Monday under #TheEmptyChair. You can check out the full feed here.
Almost 14 years later, I still hear "You shouldn't have left the window open."#TheEmptyChair— Alexandra Kontes (@AlexandraKontes) July 27, 2015
83% of women w develop. disabilities are sexually assaulted
49% are assaulted more than 10x
3% are reported #TheEmptyChair— IsaJennie (@IsaJennie) July 27, 2015
#TheEmptyChair represents women and men who are told (directly and indirectly) they're less important than their attackers.— Olivia Neauxp (@KatrinaLRogers) July 27, 2015
When we have to fight this hard even to be believed what hope is there that it will ever change? #TheEmptyChair— Laurel (@laurelgreen) July 27, 2015
when we foster a society that focuses on the criminal and not on the victim we will no longer have #TheEmptyChair.— chika unigwe (@chikaunigwe) July 27, 2015
#TheEmptyChair represents how society has and continues to scare women into silence. "Who will believe you" is still a very valid question.— C. Marrewa-Karwoski (@CMarrewa) July 27, 2015
That's crazy. The bravery of all of those women in the face of a culture that shames us into silence, more times than not. #TheEmptyChair— kelsey. (@_brinflakes) July 27, 2015
"when you sneak out to visit a guy and he rapes you, how are you going to tell your mother knowing she'd kill you?"#TheEmptyChair— chika unigwe (@chikaunigwe) July 27, 2015
#TheEmptyChair isn't big enough to fit all the people who have been raped, unheard and shamed.— Charlene Carruthers (@CharleneCac) July 27, 2015
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