Video: Telling our survival stories
Philippa Willitts // 13 March 2012
Apologies for the poor quality audio, but this video is about the Twitter response to the Mumsnet #WeBelieveYou campaign.
Apologies, also, that at present there is no transcript for the video. I hope to be able to get one soon, and will edit this post to include it when it’s done.] Thanks to @disabledmedic, we now have a transcript to the video, which follows.
[When you play the video you will see that screen grabs of text, urls or individual tweets will be shown. They are all read out in the voiceover, and so are in the transcript, but you may wish to play the video alongside to see this if you’re quite a visual person.]
[voiceover] Hi, this is Philippa Willitts from the F-word. This video [ed: and therefore transcript] may contain things that could be triggering so please be careful when you’re watching it.
Yesterday Mumsnet released a report which Laura wrote about on the blog, uhm, which was highlighting how many women who had filled in their questionnaire had been raped or sexually assaulted. This has led to quite incredible things on twitter – first of all the hashtag #webelieveyou which was associated with the Mumsnet campaign appeared. Now these three words are incredibly powerful and strong words to survivors of sexual violence. A lot of us are not believed, so being told that you’re believed is a very powerful message and an important one to get across.
Now at some point later on in the day yesterday another hashtag appeared which was #ididnotreport. Now this hashtag originated with @londonfeminist on twitter who was inspired by @andromedababe and @mmelindor. Now this hashtag was dozens, hundreds, thousands of people saying ‘I did not report my sexual assault’ ‘I did not report the harassment I experienced’ ‘I did not report my rape’ and saying why. And the speed and the vast number of tweets that were appearing with that hashtag were overwhelming.
And I sent a tweet from the F-word account saying ‘The hashtag #ididnotreport is devastating. It comes with a serious trigger warning, but if you are feeling strong enough, check it out.’ Now I actually wasn’t feeling strong enough, I was overwhelmed and really upset by a lot of what I was reading. I think it was the vast numbers of women who were all sharing their stories. Now that tweet (this one) has been retweeted over 400 times and is still being retweeted now. And there’s been as well as a lot of people posting on the hashtag about their experiences, there’s also been a lot of support offered. I wanted to find a way to acknowledge this mass outpouring because it’s an incredibly powerful thing that people are doing – that people are speaking out sometimes for the first time, sometimes for the hundredth time, but speaking out is really difficult, and anything that encourages people to be able to open up in that way is really important.
Messages like ‘no wonder #ididnotreport so heartbreakingly large it’s estimated 0.1-1% of sexual assaults result in conviction.’ ‘I do not have the courage to publicly share the assault #ididnotreport but I stand in solidarity with those reporting tonight. My heart is with you’ ‘devastating and enlightening twitter feed’ ‘the shocking thing about #ididnotreport is how easy it is to think of something to write for it’ ‘for anyone who tries to justify jokes about rape the #ididnotreport tweets should be a harsh dose of reality, this is a real, awful thing’ ‘I know we should encourage people to report but seriously I think the treatment of police etc can be as bad as the abuse itself’ ‘I want to share #ididnotreport with my teenage daughter so she knows always to report, to always tell, to know she can come to me’ ‘#ididnotreport because I knew the trauma would be worse by the legal system. I was so scared I didn’t even tell my mother for years’ ‘#ididnotreport because even my parents didn’t believe me’ ‘#ididnotreport the various grabbings, gropings and grindings we experienced as teenagers because they’re part of a night out’ ‘I’m saddened that #ididnotreport is needed, I’m glad it’s around. Realising one is not alone is the most powerful thing there is.’
And that’s so true – there is power in these messages, there is power in speaking out. That’s not to say you have to speak out, that’s not to say that you’re weak or not powerful if you don’t. You have to do it your own way, you have to – it’s the only way. But for those who did speak out last night, and today, and probably tomorrow, there is power in this.
Now if you want, I did two, I created two documents with these tweets. Now last night is this first one, you can find this at www.tinyurl.com/ididnotreport in this I got the latest 1500 tweets with this hashtag and the latest 1500 tweets last night took 6 minutes. There were 1500 tweets in 6 minutes with this hashtag! The second report I did is at www.tinyurl.com/ididnotreport2 That was the latest 1500 tweets this morning and that was about 6 hours worth of tweets on this hashtag. (Sorry about these ads, there’s nothing I can really do about them) The #webelieveyou hashtag is still going which I’m very glad about. The #ididnotreport tag is still going and the #ididreport tag is still going.
I’m really proud of every woman who’s spoken out – every person who’s speaking out, it’s not just women. There’s power in our words. One of my favourite quotes: “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes”. Check out those hashtags on twitter if that’s something you feel safe doing, and thank you to everybody who’s taken part and to Mumsnet for starting this conversation.