Q&A with Hannah Giorgis, creator of #WhyIDidntReport

What’s on Deck: ​ #WhyIDidntReport, a Twitter hashtag launched ​in April ​by Hannah ​Giorgis— ​a 23-year-old Black feminist writer and organizer from New York​—with accompanying Tumblr account created for survivors uncomfortable with sharing on Twitter who want to share their stories anonymously; #WhyIDidntReport curates tweets from survivors expressing why they chose not or were unable to report their assault and society’s role in that decision. #WhyIDidntReport is exceptionally poignant today as mainstream anti-violence advocacy groups, college administrations, and even the Obama administration are leaning heavily on reporting as a primary solution to curbing sexual violence. Many other advocates find the call for more survivors to report their assault as ill-conceived and problematic. ​Read Hannah’s first-person telling of the hashtag and her own story of survival, published on June 6 over at The {Young}ist.

Motivation Behind​ #WhyIDidntReport:​ Giorgis was motivated to start the hashtag after reading multiple news reports on college sexual assault policies and adjudication processes that “demand all victims/survivors come forward and report their assaults as THE primary method of stopping the unchecked epidemic of sexual violence.” “That just felt wrong on so many levels,” Giorgis said. “I’m a survivor myself, and I know there are so many complex reasons people either don’t trust the criminal justice system, have no desire to engage with it, or believe carcerality isn’t the answer.”

Why the Hashtag was Started: Giorgis ​first tweeted #WhyIDidntReport ​to create an active space that brought together all the many different—but connected—reasons why survivors and many others do not rely or want to rely on reporting as a method for justice and healing. “I felt like the conversations about reporting demands were a bit fragmented,” Giorgis said. “There were folks discussing their concerns about being retraumatized by police and courts, others still discussing prisons as an instrument of (racialized) violence themselves, and so many more seemingly disparate reasons for not wanting to rely on this one method.” It was also a way to provide a safe outlet for victims/survivors to discuss how they ​are handling their trauma with “people who actually get it.” “It’s frustrating to be condescended to about your own experience, and I think so much of that already happens–increased emphasis on reporting will only make worse,” she said.

What Giorgis Hoped to Accomplish: “I set out wanting to just create space for people to share. We all have untold stories lurking inside us,” Giorgis said. “I figured if I could encourage a few people to share theirs and actually feel safe doing so, that would be enough.” But the 23-year-old feminist writer didn’t anticipate the volume of responses—even though her “statistical knowledge of rape culture” should have informed her otherwise. “It’s hard not to be both heartened and saddened by how many people have similar stories,” she said. “I’m really invested in supporting people as they stand in their truths.”  Check out Hannah Giorgis’s writing at http://ethiopienne.com. Follow her on Twitter, @ethiopiennesays.

Annamarya Scaccia (for annamaryas.com)

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