NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Victims of sexual assault have been flooding social media with their own stories after President Donald trump questioned Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser for not coming forward with her own accusations sooner.
In response, the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport has been trending on social media since Friday. It’s gone viral on Twitter with explanations from women and men for why they kept quiet about sexual assault.
“Because I knew it was his word against mine,” read one.
“Because I’m still afraid,” read another.
Or, like author Diane Chamberlain, they blamed themselves and said nothing for decades.
“It never occurred to me really until many years later that it was rape,” she said. “I thought this was something that was entirely my fault.”
Actress Alyssa Milano revealed in a tweet, “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.”
Experts say seven out of ten victims do not report rapes and other assaults to police. The same percentage know their attacker, making it even more difficult to come forward.
“You fear that you are not going to be taken seriously and then that you are going to be the target, you are going to be shamed and humiliated, and sometimes that cost benefit analysis is just too much to bear for a victim,” Dawn Hughes said.
With the issue now so public, forensic nurse Amy Smith says it’s a good time to talk to your teens about the need to speak out to trusted parents or adults.
Smith treats victims of sex assault at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
“Your body is yours, you have autonomy over our body license,” she said. “No one has the right to do something to you that you don’t want them to do and if someone suggests it or does it, you should come forward and that’s is how we keep each other safe.”
“I hope the conversation we are having now would enable teenage girls today to know that they do need to turn to authorities instead of my generation just living with this horror,” Chamberlain said.