In a climate where the majority of rapes go unreported, it's disheartening to consider the many stories that will never be told, the many victims who may never find comfort, and the many silences that remain untouched. Fortunately, the new Twitter campaign #BeenRapedNeverReported seeks to give a voice to these silences. As members of this campaign, many survivors have taken to Twitter to share their stories of sexual violence with the hope of seeking solidarity and inspiring others.
The campaign began thanks to the efforts of Toronto Star writer Antonia Zerbisias, who created the hashtag in support of actress Lucy DeCoutere. DeCourtere is one of the nine women who have accused former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi of sexual violence, and one of only two women to have made her accusations public. After support for DeCourtere manifested on Twitter via the hastag #IBelieveLucy, many other users sought to share their experiences of sexual violence. Zerbisias's new platform provides a profound way to make these experiences known. To kick off the campaign, she shared her own story with the world:
Over time, Zerbisias's courage proved contagious. Many other victims chimed in by offering up their own experiences, and they are included below with permission.
Family and friends joined the cause as well:
As some of these Tweets make clear, many victims have previously held back from reporting their rapes for fear of the societal stigma that accompanies going public. For others, it's too late to seek justice:
Whatever the reason may be for leaving a rape unreported, it's important to respect the decisions of these victims as to how to handle their very painful and personal experiences. It's also important to remember, however, that while it may be too late to seek justice in a court of law, situations of sexual violence are never time-sensitive, and it is never too late to speak out about an experience of rape. This could be on Twitter via the #BeenRaperNeverReported campaign, or in a conversation with a friend or family member. In any case, it's up to the victim to decide.
The important takeaway from this campaign, then, is perhaps best described in a Tweet by Susan Clairmont, columnist for The Hamilton Spectator:
Like Clairmont says, one can only hope for a day when all victims feel empowered to speak out against the injustices of rape. Until that time, however, we look to the #BeenRapedNeverReported campaign as a voice for the many silences that continue to pervade our society.