#WhyIDidntReport: After Trump Tweet, People Share Unreported Sexual Assaults

21 September, 2018

This is What's Trending Today...

American President Donald Trump has questioned the honesty of the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

The woman, Christine Blasey Ford, says Kavanaugh attacked her at a house party in 1982. Both were in high school at the time. Kavanaugh has denied the accusations, saying he never attacked Ford or any other woman.

FILE - U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh listens during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Sept. 4, 2018.
FILE - U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh listens during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Sept. 4, 2018.

Ford's accusation -- and how it may affect Kavanaugh's nomination -- has been a leading news story this week in the United States.

On Friday morning, Trump praised his Supreme Court nominee on Twitter. He also wrote, "If the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed" with police.

Trump continued, "I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!"

By Friday afternoon, people had posted more than 50,000 messages in answer to Trump's tweet. Many noted some of their own reasons for not reporting attacks to police.

The hashtag #WhyIDidntReport exploded on social media. It soon became the top trending topic on Twitter.

Some described why they feared coming forward.

Others said they knew they would not be believed -- by the police, their community, or their family.

Some described being abused by members of their own family.

And some said they were too young at the time to know what to do.

RAINN is the largest American organization against sexual violence. Its website says 310 out of every 1,000 sexual attacks are reported to police.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had completed its confirmation hearings for nominee Brett Kavanaugh on September 7. Then, on September 12, the Intercept online news site reported about a letter that described how Kavanaugh had assaulted a woman in 1982.

Ford came forward as the writer of the letter on Monday.

Ford is a university professor in California. Her lawyers say she has received death threats since her name and story became public. She and her family have fled their California home.

Her lawyers say Ford is willing to answer questions in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, if her safety can be promised.

Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican, has announced a public hearing for Monday where both Ford and Kavanaugh can appear to tell their stories.

However, Ford's lawyer, Debra Katz, answered that "Monday's date is not possible." She added that the committee's request that it happen on that date is without reason.

Katz said Ford's "strong preference" is that "a full investigation" be completed before she testifies.

On Thursday night, the White House released a letter from Kavanaugh to Grassley in which he said he wants to tell his side in a Monday hearing.

"I will be there. I continue to want a hearing as soon as possible so that I can clear my name," he wrote.

Republican lawmakers are trying to win Senate confirmation for Kavanaugh ahead of the court's start of a new term on October 1.

And that's What's Trending Today.

I'm Caty Weaver.

Ashley Thompson wrote this report with materials from the Associated Press and social media. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

assault - n. a violent attack

file - v. to give (something, such as an official form or a legal document) to someone in authority so that it can be considered, dealt with, approved, etc.

willing - adj. not refusing to do something

afternoon - n. the middle part of the day

preference - n. a feeling of liking or wanting one person or thing more than another person or thing