#WhyIDidn’tReportIt lets victims share their stories of abuse

Gracie Warda, Assistant Online Editor

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Bill Clinton. Al Franken. Ed Schrock. John Conyers. Donald Trump. Brett Kavanaugh. The number of politicians involved in non-consensual sex scandals is increasing by the day, and these allegations are pulling victims out of the woodwork to testify against their offenders. However, after years of silence, defenders are asking those victims why they didn’t report their story years ago.

Victims of sexual assault are standing up with #WhyIDidn’tReportIt.

Most prominent on Twitter, #WhyIDidn’tReportIt creates a place for people to share their stories of sexual abuse on social media, similarly to the #MeToo movement. Users of the hashtag often tweet or post their story as a way of speaking out against abuse.

Despite its title, #WhyIDidn’tReportIt is meant to be empowering for the thousands that have faced abuse. It’s become a support network, where men and women can finally feel safe coming forward.

This meaning has been skewed by some, who define the hashtag as victims defending themselves for not telling their story sooner. Not only is this definition inaccurate, it’s beyond disrespectful.

The pain of sexual abuse is inexplicable, and the choices that victims make surrounding their abuse is their own choice. They should not have to defend themselves for making certain decisions, like keeping their abuse a secret. It may be ten, twenty, or even thirty years after their incident of abuse before some women choose to come forward, but they shouldn’t be scorned for that. Rather, they should be praised for their bravery.

According to Psychology Today, fear is the biggest factor that prevents people from reporting their abuse. Fear of their abuser, fear of being called a liar, fear of it happening again. It may be years before victims feel strong enough to come forward, and when they do, they are often faced by criticism of the public.

This criticism only instills more fear into victims.

Instead of accusing the victim of lying, congratulate them on having the bravery to tell their story. Instead of telling them they’re too late, support them. Instead of defending the offender, defend the victim.

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