Disclosing that you have experienced sexual violence can be the first step to getting better. Talking about it takes a lot of courage, whether it is privately with loved ones or publicly on social media.
Many victims have told their stories publicly in order to reclaim power over the narrative of their experience as well as easing their pain. Sharing one's story is a way to seek help from others, as well as to show other victims that they are not alone.
Making a statement online has certain benefits. In the context of a collective movement, it gives a sense of being part of a larger group and coming together against rape culture. Unfortunately, there can also be consequences. The following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing on an online platform the sexual violence that you have experienced:
- Reclaiming power over the narrative of your sexual violence experience
- Building support
- Reporting the person responsible for the sexual violence
- Become informed
- Identify people that can be counted on
- Being part of a collective movement
- Exposing yourself to people who don't believe you or make hurtful comments
- Unwanted re-sharing of your story and the permanence of the digital trail
- If a police complaint is filed, there is a possible risk if the versions of the story don't match up
If you are interested in sharing your story online, here are some thoughts to help you decide what is best for you:
- What reactions do you anticipate from your loved ones or others?
- Do you plan to share your story anonymously or not? For what reasons?
- If the story is anonymous, will the person responsible be able to identify themselves?
- How do you feel about your statement staying online for many years and being re-shared?
- How do you feel about your statement remaining online for several years and then being re-shared again in the future?
- Are you considering filing a complaint with the police? How do you feel about the fact that public testimony that identifies the person responsible for the abuse could be used in a lawsuit?
- Is there anywhere you would not want your statement to be? Are there people who should not read your statement?
- What are your motivations and fears about sharing your story online? How can you avoid or minimize those fears?
- What are your needs and are there other ways to meet them?
(Inspired from Témoigner de son agression à caractère sexuel sur Internet, fiche pour les intervenantes (2018), UQAM, RQCALACS, Je Suis Indestructible. https://sac.uqam.ca/upload/files/Temoigner_ACS_Internet_fiches_intervention.pdf)
The telephone counsellors at the Sexual Violence Helpline are here to help you identify your needs. We offer listening and resources to help you get better as well as supporting your choices. Your safety and recovery are our priority.