I Did Not Report

Trigger Warning for rape and sexual abuse

Image via Change.org

Social media can be powerful. Yesterday, a Twitter trending topic reminded me of that. On #IDidNotReport, people explain why they didn’t report rape or sexual abuse. The results are a strong reminder that we still live in a rape culture.

I encourage you all to check out this trend. Here are a few tweets:

#ididnotreport because she was female, smaller than me, & we were at a club. The fact was I felt powerless & she didn’t accept ”no”.

#ididnotreport because I was locked up and the prison guards wouldn’t have believed me.

#ididnotreport because I was ~4 years old and only recently was able to accept it.

#ididnotreport because where the fuck can a trans woman report sexual assault and be taken seriously?

#ididnotreport because who believes teenage blackgirls anyway

#ididnotreport because I had been made to believe doctors only did what was medically necessary and in their patient’s best interests.

#ididnotreport because my mom also warned of the dangers of discussing personal business with strangers (like counselors)

#ididnotreport because he was a military coworker and I was terrified of consequences under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

#ididnotreport bc I believed the lie that it was my fault for not defending myself better. Even though I was a child.

I shared a few of my own reasons for not reporting as well. Here are a few–some that I’ve already shared on Twitter, and others that I haven’t.

#ididnotreport because church taught me that if you make out with someone or show too much skin, you deserve what you get.

#ididnotreport because my school’s abstinence program tried to scare kids into abstinence by comparing rape & sex. didnt know the difference

#ididnotreport because I would have been kicked out of my Baptist high school for my sexual history with my rapist.

#ididnotreport because I thought rape could only come from strangers, not from someone you loved.

#ididnotreport because he told me that because I was sexually abused as a child, I was damaged goods anyway.

#ididnotreport because I thought he would kill me.

#ididnotreport because I was friends with his family. I didn’t want them to hate me.

Another Twitter trend, #IDidReport, started up, confirming the fears of those of us who did not report.

#ididreport the guy who groped me in high school to the vice principal. VP said he “didn’t have time to deal with this”.

#ididreport when assaulted at knife point in front of our boys Cops wouldn’t arrest him as we were (divorcing/separated for months)”married”

#ididreport and the most grief that came my way, came from other women.

#ididreport and was treated like the criminal. I lost friends and ended up deep in depression. I wished #ididnotreport. No charges laid :(

I can’t pretend I was surprised by any of these tweets. I’ve been a feminist long enough to know that rape culture exists and is powerful. But I also know that many are either blissfully unaware that this kind of crap goes on in the world or have experienced this crap and think they are alone.

That people are sharing their stories on a forum as public as Twitter is amazing, and I believe has the potential to open some eyes and change some minds and maybe even begin the process of dismantling the rape culture that we live in.

These short 140 character stories are tragic, disheartening, and painful to read. But they are important. To those who have shared them, thank you. Thank you for your courage and strength. I pray for you to find healing.

You are not alone.

We believe you.

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  • http://singleandpicky.blogspot.com Jenn

    Thanks! It is a hard road to make the first step, I’m not going to lie about that – BUT it is worth it. It is worth it when you can hold on firmly or reclaim that because you are human (and you are) that you are worthy of respect and love – and in saying that you were dehumanized and that’s not okay is how you start that process with yourself – you acknowledge you are worthy of love. It’s hard but in the process I found that the loudest voices against me are victims themselves (my mom being one of them).

    Not as a fear tactic but more as a place of concern for me – abuse doesn’t end with you. It continues in how each victim relates to the world and their children. I can tell you as someone raised my molestation victim – her silence perpetuated abuse in his family and in ours. Speak. You don’t have to press charges if you don’t want to but you must put words to it.

  • http://sibelcatana.wordpress.com Sibel

    Thank you so much for this post!

    Ultimately, if the generation of girls coming after us won’t have to deal with this sort of crap as much as we have… that would be heaven for me!

    • http://gravatar.com/sarahoverthemoon Sarah Moon

      agreed!

  • Marcus

    The one about the groper in high school reminds me of my sister. At 13, she was already 5’10″ and endowed in ways that other 13-year-olds typically aren’t. Some guy decides to reach both hands around her from behind and gropes her in the hallway. She reminds him that she’s bigger than him, stronger than him, and isn’t going to take his shit by slamming his head into the next locker hard enough to break skin.

    The school had a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harrassment. But guess who got suspended…

    • http://gravatar.com/sarahoverthemoon Sarah Moon

      siiiigh. :( so sad.

  • http://stitchinguptheseams.wordpress.com Stitch

    (hug)

    I have a friend who has gently recommended that I report my assault from six years ago. I didn’t report at the time because I thought that wasn’t turning the other cheek, and I was trying to be a good Christian and a good pacifist. That, and I really believed (and sometimes still believe) that it just wasn’t a big deal. I was groped. Not raped. Yes, I had bruises for a week or so and I still have PTSD. But most times, even now, I feel like I’m just overreacting to a “normal” part of life.

    This. The above. All of these stories, all of this fear. This is what rape culture looks like. And it HAS to stop.

    The state in which I was assaulted doesn’t have a statute of limitations. But I’m still so engulfed with fear. The struggle between doing something enormously hard with little support and keeping my head down while he has unfettered access to others…I can’t handle it most days.

    • http://gravatar.com/sarahoverthemoon Sarah Moon

      I’ve been thinking about reporting too. But I doubt anything would get done since it was also about 6 years ago. And I would honestly fear for my life if he didn’t end up in prison…

      • http://stitchinguptheseams.wordpress.com Stitch

        (HUG)

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t initially say anything out of fear (and yet in ways I was saying it all along when I would beg my mom not to leave me home alone with him)

    when I did tell my parents promised secrecy because what else could be done? they lied and confronted him. he told my grandparents. my grandmother is in a state of slowly dying and doesn’t even know who I am anymore but my grandfather thinks I’ve lied and is very upset which makes it hard to visit my grandmother even though I don’t know how much longer she’ll be around.

  • http://www.facebook.com/diana.loveurneighbor Diana Margaret

    *Whew* You’re right, it’s tough to read those stories, but SO important! I heard echoes of my own reasons as I read through others. I can’t count the number of times that I have shared my story and then, someone shares their story with me and it is THE FIRST TIME EVER that they’ve talked about it. It’s important to share and brave. Thank you for sharing! }l{ <– (That's supposed to be a butterfly.)

  • http://aredemptionofhope.blogspot.com Ally

    i did report. i was a sophomore in college. i knew my rapist, yet there was never an arrest, let alone a trial. As a result, despite the fact that it had taken place in his dorm room, the college never took any disciplinary action against him– the vice president of student affairs told me “Without an arrest, it would be in violation of his rights to evict or expel him.” Many of my friends didn’t believe me, or worse, they said it was my fault: i should have known, i should have fought back, i should have screamed, i should have done this, that, or the other. In short, i shouldn’t have let it happen. My (evangelical) parents made similar remarks and said since i hadn’t made any progress, it was a waste of time to take me to therapy that summer. i don’t remember much of the first two years or so after the rape; it’s a blurry mix of razor blades and pills as i did what i could to fight off those demons inside. i’ve been sober for (almost!) 3 years. i still struggle with PTSD, to the point that i’ve had 3 hospitalizations in the last six months alone– yet the doctors didn’t believe “my story” and said i have BPD, not PTSD. So even now, five years later, i wish i’d never spoken up about it.

  • meme

    how do you send your post to @ididnotreport anonymously?

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