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March 21, 2012, 4:48 pm — admin (Uncategorized)

[TRIGGER WARNING:  Please read carefully, share responsibly and seek support when needed]

On March 12, London-based blogger, London Feminist, explored the scope of silence–and silencing–experienced by survivors of sexual harassment by creating the Twitter hashtag #ididnotreport. She writes, “I had no idea how powerful that would be.  I had imagined that it was predominantly low-level street harassment which was not reported…Far more serious attacks go unreported.”

In little more than a week, thousands of tweets and retweets from around the world have included #ididnotreport, using just 140 characters to share the personal, and often painful barriers to reporting sexual assault, with many disclosing experiences of rape, incest and child sexual abuse — some doing so for the first time.

User @ohmymaggs writes, “#IDidNotReport it when I was a child to protect my family, whom I loved and didn’t want to hurt. Wish he’d felt the same.”

Another tweet, by @AnonymousLark, reads, ” I was just a kid, ashamed & afraid. I got out of the situation, w/minor trauma. But I wonder how many girls I let down cause #ididnotreport”.

These tweets illustrate the toxic effect of the harmful social norms that discourage victims from coming forward, but they also highlight opportunities for health promotion through social media and other alternative, safe spaces for victims to break their silence and be received with validation.  Our NYC friends and allies at Hollaback! note that online anti-violence activism such as #ididnotreport (and, I might add, all the amazing contributors to iHollaback.org) can “provide survivors of sexual abuse and victims of sexual harassment a mountain to shout their stories from.”  A mountain.  I love it.

Indeed, many supporters are using the #ididnotreport hashtag as a way to commend and validate victims for their courage: User @meghsaid writes, “Reading #ididnotreport is making me cry in public.  You’re all strong beautiful creatures, it was not your fault #webelieveyou”. As my colleague Jes wisely pointed out, the space is also needed to “remind people that the choice they made was ok,” and it seems many followers of #ididnotreport similarly recognize that many victims still experience challenges to reporting despite the creation of this “spontaneous support group.”

Musician and activist (and one of this writer’s personal heroes) Billy Bragg tweeted, “Anyone who believes that equality has been achieved and feminism no longer matters should listen to the women at #ididnotreport.”  His message points to the urgency of #ididnotreport: Not only do we live in a culture where individuals endure sexual violence, but we live in a culture that revictimizes those who seek justice.  London Feminist notes, “It made me wonder: what would happen if, just for a month, or even a week, every woman who is intimidated or threatened or groped or grabbed or fondled or frightened by street harassment actually did report it?  I imagine the criminal justice system would collapse.  And would it remedy or intensify the culture of disbelief?”

Alexis Marbach of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault shares her hope that the space for storytelling created by #ididnotreport generates a greater conversation about the need for “a climate where survivors feel supported, valued, and heard.”  Alexis identifies the opportunity for prevention here as well: a culture that lovingly and unconditionally supports survivors who come forward is a culture where people can live freer from sexual violence.

Action Alert: Gather to support Nafissatou Diallo & all victims of sexual assault

August 18, 2011, 11:01 am — admin (Uncategorized)
The Alliance is co-sponsoring two public events planned around the August 23rd court hearing in the Dominque Strauss-Kahn sexual assault case.  We hope you will join us at both events to stand in solidarity with Nafissatou Diallo and all victims of sexual assault.

AUGUST 22, generic 2011

The Alliance is proud to co-sponsor a Press Conference with NYC Council Member Letitia James and other women’s advocacy organizations in support of Nafissatou Diallo


Press Conference


Monday, August 22 from 5 pm – 7 pm


City Hall steps

With regard to the DSK case, the organizers and supporters have set the following goals:

  • Urge the Manhattan DA to look at the facts of the case, as well as the Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s history of conduct.
  • Cease leaking of information pertaining to the case.
  • Take into STRONG consideration Ms. Diallo’s medical report which includes testimony consistent with what the accuser told police, and which lists the cause of injuries as “rape”.


AUGUST 23, 2011

Join the Connect the Dots Coalition and RALLY in support of Nafissatou Diallo




Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 11:00 a.m.


100 Centre Street

(We will line the front of the Criminal Courthouse holding signs and banners.)

RAISE YOUR VOICES to demand a continuance of the Manhattan criminal case against Dominque Straus-Kahn

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominque Straus-Kahn was arrested and charged with the May 14, 2011 sexual assault of Ms. Diallo, a housekeeper at the Sofitel hotel. Ms. Diallo’s medical report is consistent with her account of the attack, and the NYC hospital that treated her lists the cause of her injuries as “assault” and “rape.”

A court hearing before Judge Michael Obus is set for late morning on August 23rd at the Criminal Courthouse at 100 Centre Street. Media reports from anonymous sources indicate the case may be dropped because of “credibility issues.” Make sure you are present to show your solidarity with Ms. Diallo and all sexual assault victims, and to protest the barbaric practice of victim-blaming.

Ms. Diallo deserves her day in court!

Connect the Dots is a coalition comprised of CONNECT, Crime Victims Treatment Center, Feministing, National Organization for Women (NOW-NYC), The Healing Center, New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault and Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN).

Reflections on the DSK & Nafissatou Diallo case: What we know about sexual assault & victim-blaming

August 1, 2011, 11:16 am — admin (Uncategorized)

The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault applauds the courageous victims of sexual assault who come forward to report the crime. Victim-blaming is a common defense tactic, viagra and the risk is greater when the case involves a famous or powerful person: This has been the experience of Nafissatou Diallo, store the Sofitel housekeeper who has accused former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in his hotel room last May.

In this highly polarizing case, healing both Mr. Strauss-Kahn and Ms. Diallo have been tried and “convicted,” in a sense, by the international press. While the outcome of this high-profile case is in limbo, and we may never know the full details of what happened behind closed doors, here is what we do know about sexual assaults:

We know that victim blaming is practiced widely in our culture. While celebrity rape cases grab the headlines, many sexual violence crimes treat the victim as “suspect” because he/she dressed provocatively, drank alcohol or used drugs, engaged in some form of consensual sex prior to the attack, or did not put up a struggle. Defense attorneys routinely attack the credibility of a sexual assault victim by digging up any incriminating details from his/her past. This practice has a chilling effect on survivors. Victims of sexual violence are deeply ashamed, humiliated and fearful of scrutiny of their private life.  Many are afraid to report the crime for fear of being “put on trial.”

We know immigrant women are more vulnerable and at greater risk for victimization and exploitation by individuals in a position of power or authority, due to factors such immigration status, isolation, cultural and language barriers, as well as fear of, and uncertainty of seeking help from the police.

We know sexual assaults are crimes of violence and power, not of passion. The attacker’s motivation is to humiliate, debase and control the victim. Perpetrators often select victims whom they perceive as vulnerable or whom they have power over. In a workplace setting, the victim may not report the crime for fear of retaliation, fear of being blamed for the attack or fear losing her/his job.

We know there is no “normal way” to react to a sexual assault. Reactions vary significantly, and run the gamut from anger, withdrawal, hysteria, numbness and apathy. Some victims cope by resuming normal activities, such as going back to work, shopping, or even returning to the setting where they met their assailant.

We know false accusations are extremely rare. Victims of trauma commonly experience shock, numbing, and dissociation as well as effects on memory of details. As a result, it is not uncommon for a victim’s statement to contain inconsistencies and/or untrue statements. This, however, should not be confused with a false allegation. According to a study by the American Prosecutors Research Institute, false rape allegations account for 2 – 8% of all reported rapes.[1]

We know sexual assault is a public health crisis in the United States. One in six American women– and one in 33 men – has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.[2] Until we accept the prevalence, nature and scope of sexual violence, and stop placing blame on victims, sexual assault will remain the most underreported crime in the nation.

[1] Lonsway, Kimberly A., Joanne Archambault, and David Lisak. 2009 False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate and Prosecute Non-Stranger Sexual Assault. The Voice 3(1):1-11

[2] National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey. 1998

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Blog posts are the responsibility of their authors, and do not reflect the opinions of the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.

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