Great Britain

Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week: Women share stories under #ItsNotOkay hashtag

Women are sharing their experiences of sexual violence on social media under the hashtahg #ItsNotOkay to mark Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, which started on Monday.

The hashtag was created to raise awareness and tackle the stigma that discourages people from openly discussing sexual assault and abuse and has already garnered thousands of responses from individuals around the globe and UK police forces.

On Monday, the Government Equalities Office tweeted about its support for the hashtag and revealed its plans to conduct a nationwide survey into workplace abuse and harassment in order to find new ways to combat this.

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"No one should have to experience this vile behaviour," the tweet read.

"We're asking over 12,000 people from all walks of life what they might’ve experienced, so we can find the problem source and tackle it."

The tweet was accompanied by a video that featured statistics such as 40 per cent of women having experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at work.

The stories shared on Twitter under #ItsNotOkay range from workplace harassment to childhood assault.

"I shouldn’t have to walk home with my keys in my hands when I’m on my own for some glimpse of protection," tweeted one user. "I shouldn’t have to be paranoid I’m being followed wherever I go. I shouldn’t be scared to go out in case I get spiked again." 

Many of the tweets under #ItsNotOkay focus on victim-blaming and urge people to combat this.

"#ItsNotOkay to victim-shame and tell a victim they asked for it," tweeted one person. "No one ever asks to be raped or sexually assaulted.​"

Another person added: "#ItsNotOK to sexually assault any person whatever their gender occupation or sexual history No one deserves to be raped or assaulted."

Other tweets under the hashtag focused on the meaning of consent. "You can say that you want to stop halfway through," tweeted one person. "If they disagree, it’s unconsented sex [sic]."

You can find more information and advice for people affected by rape and sexual abuse at Rape Crisis or you can call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.