A crowd gathered on Sept. 24, 2018 in Philadelphia, U.S. to support Christine Blasey Ford. She is the woman who accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.(Heather Khalifa/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Backlash grows over Trump tweets on reporting sexual abuse

Women are flocking to social media to share their experiences of sexual assault and why they never reported it to police. This follows U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweet last Friday which suggested that if Christine Blasey Ford’s account “was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities.”

Blasey Ford has accused Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexually assaulting her while they were both teenagers.

Trump’s comment sparked the creation of #whyididntreport on social media and a flood of comments about survivor experiences.

‘Survivors so tired of victim blaming’

“I think what’s at the heart of it is just (that) survivors are so tired of the victim blaming,” says Dreeni Geer, director of Human Rights and Equity at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. “They are just really tired of the survivor being scrutinized and discredited, and everyone assuming that the problem is with the survivor instead of focussing on the perpetrator.

“If we look at the stories coming out of #whyididntreport you’re seeing survivors saying ‘well, I didn’t report because the person was my boss’ or ‘I didn’t report because the person held power over me’ or ‘I did report and nobody believed me’ or ‘I faced reprisal.’”

Dreeni Geer says governments need to rethink how the criminal justice system handles sexual abuse cases.

Sexual agression knows no boundaries, says Geer

Geer notes that social media provide a safe place for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories and understand they are among many who have had the same experience. She adds that the posted comments show that such aggression knows no boundaries and is endemic in countries around the world.

And about the future, Geer says: “I’m hopeful…I’ve been working in sexual violence for 20 years. So, just to see the Me Too movement, just to see the sort of male titans be taken down because women and other survivors are feeling powerful enough to come forward, it really fills me with hope.

“I think that as survivors find their voice and our systems can be a little more flexible to hear and understand what’s going on, and to realize that the systems are part of the problem, I think this is how we’re going to move forward in the future.”

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