The #MeToo movement received a jolt this weekend with the new hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, prompted by Donald Trump’s pushback on allegations raised by Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
Actress Alyssa Milano was among the staggering number of people who tweeted heartbreaking personal stories of being sexually assaulted and choosing not to report it for any number of reasons. In a new essay for Vox, Milano unpacks the stigma of reporting sexual assault and how reactions like Trump’s and Kavanaugh’s are exactly why survivors are so scared to come forward.
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 me parents.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) September 21, 2018
“Victims of sexual assault often don’t report what happened because they know all too well that our stories are rarely taken seriously or believed — and that when it comes to sexual misconduct, our justice system is broken,” writes Milano, who described current events with Kavanaugh as the worst nightmare of sexual assault survivors.
“This is the reality for survivors of sexual assault: our journey begins in fear and … it continues in fear for the rest of our lives.”
“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. This is what every survivor goes through. Telling our stories means being vulnerable to public attacks and ridicule when our only ‘crime’ was to be assaulted in the first place.”
She encourages readers to explore the #WhyIDidntReport hashtag and read survivors’ stories, difficult though they are. Milano herself is a vocal social activist and working on mobilizing voters in the midterm election.
She concludes the essay with explicit support for Ford and a denouncement of Trump and Kavanaugh. And she has a message for her fellow survivors: “You are valuable. You are human. You are important.”
“The courage of survivors will always be stronger than Donald Trump’s hate,” Milano opens her essay. That has been proven time and time again – that an upswell of voices against misuse of power can and will rise, but it is up to us collectively to make sure they do not get swept away.