WhyIDidntReport takes off on Twitter as Trump questions Kavanaugh's accuser
Published Friday, September 21, 2018 2:59PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 22, 2018 10:17AM EDT
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.
I was 17. At college. I accepted a ride from two guys. It never occured to me they wouldn't take me home. There was a knife. I was cut. I couldn't report: I knew it was my fault. The family doctor stitched me up, kept the secret. My parents never knew.#WhyIDidntReport— Victoria Brownworth (@VABVOX) September 21, 2018
I did report. I went to the hospital and the SVU in Brooklyn and told them what happened to me.— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) September 21, 2018
They told me what I described was a rape. I was starting law school in 3 weeks so I decided not to press charges. Biggest mistake of my life. #WhyIDidntReport
Because he was a member of our family— Farrah Khan (@farrahsafiakhan) September 21, 2018
Because I was a child and didn't think anyone would believe me
Because I didn't have the vocabulary about what was happening to me.
Because I did not receive any education about consent #WhyIDidntReport #sexed
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."
I was humiliated. I knew everyone would find out. I was afraid it would ruin my professional reputation before I had even started. I was afraid they would not believe me and let him hold my grade back. I was afraid they would not let me graduate from law school. #WhyIDidntReport— Amee KavaNOPE Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) September 21, 2018
Because I was a baby. Because he threatened to kill me. Because my best friend was committed to a psych ward and blamed for breaking up her family because her father raped her. Because I felt shame. Because people blame the victim. I could go on for hours ... #WhyIDidntReport— Jennifer#YemenGenocide (@teddy_cat1) September 21, 2018
I did, it didn’t matter, I was dismissed, disparaged, & I still get blamed #WhyIDidntReport— Daryl Hannah (@dhlovelife) September 21, 2018
#WhyIDidntReport He was supposed to be my friend, but he beat me when I said no. This is the first time I've talked about it in public.— Jen Steer (@jensteer) September 21, 2018
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