These Heartbreaking Tweets About Outing Sexual Abuse Show How Hard It Can Be
The fall of 2017 has seen a movement the likes of which many people (especially women) never thought could happen. I'm talking about the #MeToo movement and holding people accused of sexual impropriety accountable for their actions. While the hashtag #MeToo is now ubiquitous among social media, it doesn't mean that it's an easy decision for a victim to go public with sexual assault or harassment allegations. Just one look at this heartbreaking Twitter thread about outing sexual abusers will highlight the hurdles that survivors of sexual assault or harassment face as they hold their alleged abusers accountable.
The tweets in this trending Twitter thread were posted by Dr. Janet D. Stemwedel on Dec. 8. Stemwedel is a professor of philosophy at San José State University, according to Hello Giggles, and she took to Twitter to discuss all of the considerations taken before revealing one's personal sexual assault or harassment story — especially when you name the accused. As Stemwedel points out, there's a lot more that a survivor is thinking about than just when and where they will post "#MeToo."
Presumably based on the responses that some victims have received when they share their experience of sexual assault or harassment, Stemwedel began her thread by identifying things she predicts will happen as a result of her revealing her own sexual abuser. While Stemwedel uses both terms, she asserts that she was both sexually harassed and assaulted.
Elite Daily reached out to Dr. Stemwedel but had not heard back at the time of publication.
Stemwedel's initial thread consists of 26 tweets altogether, and she mentions various ways that she predicts people will attempt to discredit her professionally or dissuade her from telling her story. Among the ways listed, some other predicted responses include assertions that when the alleged incident took place 23 years ago, it was a different time in society; or that some may scold her for not contacting authorities right away when it allegedly happened. As of Sunday afternoon, the thread had been liked more than 10,000 times and retweeted more than 5,400 times.
Stemwedel shares her thought process surrounding her decision to tell her story.
She also notes that it's been 23 years since the incident occurred.
She anticipates scrutiny of her professional accomplishments in comparison with those of her alleged abuser.
His interactions absent of alleged sexual harassment will be recounted by other women he's encountered.
These examples aren't pulled out of thin air, either.
You'll recall that after Senator Al Franken was first accused of sexual harassment on Nov. 16 by Leeann Tweeden, who alleged that he groped and forcibly kissed her in December 2006, his former female colleagues at SNL penned a letter defending Franken by way of stating that he never was improper with them. While he apologized for some of the allegations, Franken also responded during his recent resignation from the U.S. Senate. In a speech on Dec. 7 he said, "Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember differently."
Stemwedel states that her willingness to be around her alleged abuser after the incident will be scrutinized.
Stemwedel says that critics of this kind of revelation will also look to her history with the intention of discovering some long-held grievance she may hold against the accused or pointing to any mental health issue as reason for her not to be believed.
The number of years between the alleged incident and her reporting of it will be used to explain away the severity or legitimacy of the alleged sexual assault.
She'll be questioned as to why she didn't do more at the time.
Instead of believing her account, she suggests his supporters will praise his public stance "as an advocate for women in philosophy."
She posits that his protectors in the field will do their best to keep her away from any means of professional advancement.
It's thanks to responses like these hypothetical ones that sexual harassers can continue committing such actions, according to Stemwedel.
As Stemwedel's thoughtful thread comes to a close, she never details the incident or releases the name of the allegedly accused. It's understandable why she's being careful and deliberate with her experience, especially after she listed the ways that she'll likely be targeted when and if she does reveal her full story.
Even after reading her thread of the toll that considering sharing a story of sexual assault or harassment takes on a victim, she was badgered on Twitter to share her story and reveal the identity of the accused. Stemwedel replied that she will do so, "When I'm ready to identify him. Or when he identifies himself." In her closing, she stated that in her ideal world, "He would apologize, privately & publicly." She continued on to add, "I'm not holding my breath."
The conversation surrounding sexual assault and harassment has progressed in recent months, but this Twitter thread is a reminder that there is still much more work to do. Galvanizing a movement with the #MeToo hashtag is a great start, but unfortunately true and lasting progress unravels at a snail's pace. Here's to hoping it continues to progress so that one day victims can be unburdened from as many of these hurdles as possible as they share their stories.
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