Photography by John Middlebrook/CSM/REX/Shutterstock

#MeToo Vanguards Add Their Voices to the #WhyIDidntReport Movement

On October 15, 2017, American actress and activist Alyssa Milano sent a simple message out onto the Internet: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” It was this gesture, which brought forth thousands of replies, that put the #MeToo movement in the mainstream. Now, just under a year later, Milano is lending her voice to another hashtag: #WhyIDidntReport.

A lot of change has been made around conversations about sexual harassment and assault as #MeToo has gained momentum. A glance at the President Donald Trump’s Twitter page, however, will tell you that we still have a long way to go. “I have no doubt,” he wrote last Thursday morning, “that if the attack on Dr Ford was as bad as she says charges would have been immediately filed with local law enforcement by either her or loving parents.”

Here, the President is responding to Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. And, in direct response to this tweet, survivors of sexual assault are tweeting thoughts of their own: with #WhyIDidntReport, people are sharing the reasons why they didn’t come forward with their assault stories sooner.

“It took me years after my assault to voice the experience to my closest friends,” Milano wrote in a first-person piece for Vox, expanding on her story, “It took me three decades to tell my parents that the assault had even happened. I never filed a police report. I never told officials. 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,” she wrote.

Ashley Judd, Patricia Arquette and Mira Sorvino—along with hundreds of other survivors of sexual trauma—have also come forward to share their #WhyIDidntReport stories.