Be prepared to see some sobering tweets about rape and sexual assault this week on Twitter. The hashtag #ididnotreport began popping up in people’s feeds on Monday and Tuesday. A flood of tweets from people discussing unreported sexual crimes brought some somber reality to the Twitterverse.
An unknown blogger for London Feminist says she started the hashtag on Tuesday after reading a survey about sexual assault victims who reported the all-too-common response that they did not report the crimes to authorities for fear of not being believed.
“I had no idea how powerful that would be,” she wrote on her blog. “I had imagined that it was predominantly low-level street harassment which was not reported, but it wasn’t just this sort of abuse, that came up on that hashtag. Far more serious attacks go unreported.”
The hashtag prompted broad discussion about a variety of sexual crimes from child abuse to violence against transgendered people. The tweets can be pretty raw. Some are less descriptive, but nonetheless heartbreaking. Here’s a sample of a few: One tweeter says, “#ididnotreport because I was ashamed I hadn’t been able to fight harder or scream louder. I thought I deserved to be punished for failing.” Another person tweeted, “did report after assault at gunpoint. Never heard from police again. 3 yrs ltr, #ididnotreport when a guy shoved hand up my skirt. Futility.” And. “#ididnotreport cos I was 4 & didn’t know the words-children learn silence with the abuse. #webelieveyou.”
Mashable reached out to the London Feminist blogger to find out her identity. We heard back several hours later from the blog’s operator, Julian. She said she hopes the blog promotes the London Feminist Network, a women-only feminist activism group, but it is not the blog for the 1,600 member group.
Julian tells Mashable, “I didn’t really plan this hashtag. I started it imagining that a few people would join in and that I might get some shared experiences for the blog. I had no idea how deeply it would touch people and I’m awed by how people have been willing to participate,” she said. “After this I hope to use hashtags again in the future. I didn’t know before how powerful they could be!”
The hashtag did not burst through the top trending topics in the United States or the U.K. by Tuesday mid-day in San Francisco. However, at the rate tweets with the hashtag #ididnotreport came pouring in, we might continue to see this topic rising in popularity on Twitter in the coming days.
The blogger wrote she hoped the hashtag would encourage women to report sexual assaults that she deems, “low level” — the ones that women typically ignore, like, bring groped on public transportation or being prodded in any other way while in public. “And although those things are all offenses,” she writes. “We don’t report them because they’re ‘too minor’ and because we didn’t get a good look at the guy who did it, and because the hassle of reporting it would be so great.”