Opening up about a past sexual assault isn’t easy. Not only are you dredging up a memory you’d rather forget, but you are also, unfortunately, opening yourself up to criticism about everything from what you were wearing when it happened to why you didn’t fight the person off to why you didn’t report the crime to authorities when it happened.
This is exactly what happened to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who recently came forward accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault that took place more than 30 years ago. In addition to the backlash from conservative media outlets and hordes of anonymous online commenters, the president of the United States took it upon himself to weigh in, tweeting that “if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.”
I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2018
What the president doesn’t understand is that Ford — along with everyone else who has hesitated to go to authorities about their attack — has countless reasons for deciding not to report a sexual assault, including the significant impact on their mental health.
In response to the president’s tweet, actor Alyssa Milano publicly responded through a tweet of her own, explaining why people like Ford and herself opted not to immediately come forward about a sexual assault. She then encouraged others to share their own stories, immediately following up with another tweet bearing the hashtag, #WhyIDidntReport.
So far, the following celebrities have added their voices to this important discussion.
If you have experienced sexual abuse or assault, call the free, confidential National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or access the 24-7 help online by visiting online.rainn.org.
A version of this article was originally published in September 2018.