The heated conversation in the United States over the accusations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh, took another dramatic turn as people began opening up about their own incidents of sexual assault online.

On Twitter, people have come out in droves to contest the U.S. President Donald Trump's assertion that if the attack against Kavanaugh's accuser, U.S. professor Christine Blasey Ford, had been so bad, she would have reported it to the police at the time.

Using the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, people began recounting their own brutal experiences involving rape, sexual assault and molestation to explain why they either never told anyone publically or why they never reported it to law enforcement.

Many people have accused the president of not understanding what victims go through after an attack and even mentioning Trump's own history with accusations of sexual assault.

Trump's comment had defied what his advisors had hoped by entering into the fray and forcing the public to debate how survivors and victims deal and come to terms with trauma.


People online out that their feelings were mixtures of shame, not feeling enough support and fear of being ostracized.

On Facebook, Kathy Gosnell, a retired newspaper copy editor in DeKalb, Illinois, was inspired by Ford's revelation to finally share with a group of Facebook colleagues -- a day before Trump's tweet -- that she had been drugged and raped, she said, by a colleague more than three decades earlier.

"It's time to say something," Gosnell, now 73, wrote on Facebook. "In the early 1980s, I was drugged, beaten and raped by one of our colleagues at the L.A. Times. ... Never again did I say his name or speak to him."

In an interview with the Associated Press, Gosnell said the man is now deceased and she still has no desire to say his name. He had invited her to dinner, she said, then gave her a drink, and that was the last she remembered until she woke up hours later in his bed, naked and bruised around her arms, chest and neck. She went home, "took seven or eight showers" and told no one until 15 months ago, when she told her daughter.

"I wanted to keep my job," Gosnell said. "And I was afraid I would be ridiculed by colleagues, who might have said, 'But he's a great guy!"' (The newspaper did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment.)

Gosnell said she's furious at the treatment of Ford, especially Trump's tweet. "Of course I understand why she didn't report. She must have known what would happen to her. And look what's happening to her now."




President Trump tweeted on Friday morning that, "I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!"

His insinuation came as the professor's lawyers negotiates with the Senate Judiciary Committee on the terms for her possible testimony next week. This is the latest development in the dramatic nomination process with the accusation threatening to torpedo the judge's confirmation to the highest court in the United States.

The same reasons are only exacerbated when victims are in their teens, he said, adding that 54 per cent of those under 18 who call the National Sexual Assault Hotline say they have not told a single other person.

Ford and Kavanaugh were high school students -- she 15, he 17 -- when she alleges the assault occurred. And that, Berkowitz pointed out, was decades ago, when the environment was even less welcoming than it is today for reporting an assault.

Katie Cogan, a trauma psychotherapist in the Washington, D.C., area, said teenagers especially "almost never tell anyone (about an assault), and if they do it's usually years later. They think it's their fault or try to convince themselves it was no big deal."

Cogan said she received a number of calls on Friday morning, following Trump's tweet, from patients expressing distress over the comments and feeling anew that "they will never be believed."

With files from the Associated Press' Jocelyn Noveck