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.
In response to the president's tweet about Ford, Milano came forward about being sexually assaulted as a teenager and not filing a police report.
Actor Ashley Judd came forward with not one but two heartbreaking stories of being sexually assaulted as a child.
Oscar-winning actor Mira Sorvino tweeted that when she did report a sexual assault as a teenager, nothing came of it. This led her to believe that she wasn't important enough to matter.
Padma Lakshmi shared several stories of being sexually assaulted and why she didn't report it as well as weighing in on our culture of victim-blaming.
Patricia Arquette tweeted about how she reported a sex crime when she was 12 years old but the police didn't even respond.
The reigning Miss Michigan, Emily Sioma, tweeted that she didn't come forward about her sexual assault because she had never seen a survivor treated with dignity. Unfortunately, not much has changed.
Riverdale star Lili Reinhart shared that she didn't report a sexual assault because she was afraid of losing a job.
Former NCIS actor Pauley Perrette shared the reason she didn't report being raped at the age of 15: She was afraid her dad would murder the perpetrator and go to jail, leaving her mom alone.
Writer Jodi Picoult detailed multiple reasons why she didn't report a sexual assault that happened while she was in college, which included the assailant threatening her.
Following Trump's mocking of Ford at an event in early October, Hatcher took to Instagram to share her own story of being sexually abused at the age of 5.
In an interview on Today, Ellen DeGeneres opened up about being sexually abused at the age of 15.
"As a victim of sexual abuse, I am furious at people who don't believe it and who say, 'How do you not remember exactly what day it was?'" she told Savannah Guthrie. "You don't remember those things. What you remember is what happened to you and where you were and how you feel."
Following Ford's testimony, actor Busy Philipps came forward on Instagram with her own story of being raped at the age of 14. Though it happened 25 years ago, she only told her parents four months ago.
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