On Friday, President Donald Trump attacked Christine Blasey Ford’s credibility on Friday when he tweeted that “charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents” if her allegation of attempted rape against Brett Kavanaugh “was as bad as she says.” But seven in 10 sexual assaults go unreported, according to anti-sexual violence nonprofit RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, so social media responded to Trump en masse with the viral hashtag #WhyIDidntReport. Thousands shared their stories of sexual assault or harassment and why they didn’t report them to the police.
Now, dozens of celebrities have joined the conversation, with Lili Reinhart, Ashley Judd, Alyssa Milano, and more, using the hashtag to share their stories in an effort to support Ford and also show that not reporting an assault does not make it less painful or damaging.
Reinhart, who first wrote about her experience with assault after many women spoke out against Harvey Weinstein, tweeted on Friday about why she never reported it: “Because I didn’t want to lose my job or make people think I was a drama queen. #WhyIDidntReport”
Reinhart first detailed an experience on Tumblr in October 2017. “In light of the Harvey Weinstein allegations… I feel the need to share a story of my own personal experience where a man in a position of power over me, used that said power to try and take advantage of me,” Reinhart wrote. She said that she had a crush on a guy she worked with as a teen, and when they went on their first date, he tried to force himself on her. “I had to stop him and say ‘no, I don’t want that,’ and ‘I can’t do that.’ I physically walked away from the situation before it could get any worse. I remember feeling like this was a scene right out of a horror movie.”
Other celebrities shared their stories in an effort to show that survivors of sexual assault and harassment often don’t report for a multitude of reasons, whether it’s because they are ashamed, because they were children and their abuser threatened them, or because they fear retribution from their abuser’s friends or family if they do speak out. Even when survivors do report, they rarely receive justice, statistics show. RAINN, estimates that, out of every 1,000 rapes, 310 are reported to police, 57 lead to arrests, 11 get referred to prosecutors, seven lead to felony convictions, and six perpetrators end up incarcerated.
Alyssa Milano, who is credited with helping Tarana Burke’s Me Too movement become the viral #MeToo hashtag, joined Reinhart in showing why survivors are often too afraid to seek justice. She wrote on Twitter, “Hey, @realDonaldTrump, Listen the fuck up. I was sexually assaulted twice. Once when I was a teenager. I never filed a police report and it took me 30 years to tell my parents." She elaborated on her experience in a personal essay for Vox on Sunday, writing, “I never tried to find justice for my pain because justice was never an option. For me, speaking up meant reliving one of the worst moments of my life. It meant recognizing my attacker’s existence when I wanted nothing more than to forget that he was allowed to walk on this Earth at all.”
Ashley Judd shared her story in a powerful tweet, writing, “#WhyIDidntReport. The first time it happened, I was 7. I told the first adults I came upon. They said ‘Oh, he’s a nice old man, that’s not what he meant.’ So when I was raped at 15, I only told my diary. When an adult read it, she accused me of having sex with an adult man.”
Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi also joined the conversation, describing multiple instances when she was abused. “I was 7 the first time I was sexually assaulted. He was a relative of my mom’s second husband. I told my folks and they sent me away. #WhyIDidntReport,” Lakshmi wrote. She followed up with two more tweets that read, “The second time I was 16 years old and a virgin. He was my boyfriend. ‘Date rape’ wasn't discussed in the 80's. I was horrified and ashamed. #WhyIDidntReport.” And then, “The third time I was assaulted I was 23. I thought that no one would believe me, because no one wanted to stand up to him. I had seen the way Anita Hill was treated when she came forward. #WhyIDidntReport.”
More on survivors and their supporters:
- Three Teenage Girls Penned a Moving Letter of Support for Christine Blasey Ford
- Lucy Hale Speaks Out About Being Sexually Assaulted While Intoxicated
- Amal Clooney Opens Up About the #MeToo Movement
Now watch five women discuss overcoming self-hate: