Women Are Sharing Their Assault Stories With The #WhenIWas Hashtag And It Is Heartbreaking

20 April 2016, 11:50 | Updated: 8 May 2017, 17:09

When I was header
Nicky Idika

By Nicky Idika

56% of girls say they've been harassed in the last year. Not okay.

It's an unfortunate rite of passage for young women to experience sexually motivated harassment before they reach adulthood. Sexual harassment can be anything from a stranger shouting comments about your breasts from their car, to being physically touched without ever having given consent.

We know it's an epidemic because we have the stats: 

In 2011, a representative survey found that 56% of girls said that they had been harassed over the course of their school year. 
In 2014, one in five girls said their harassment took place at school.  

Strangely enough, this widespread experience is rarely addressed in social discourse. We talk about everything else across the spectrum of women's safety issues, but rarely address the ubiquity of sexual harassment from an early age. That may be the reason why feminist campaigners, Everyday Sexism, started the hashtag #WhenIWas. 

A quick glance a Everyday Sexism's twitter account and you won't be able to stop scrolling. The account is retweeting dozens of stories that will make you completely positive that intelligent design is a myth. Stories of young girls who had to endure terrible experiences at the hands of strangers, their peers, and authority figures.

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Hashtags and trends like #WhenIWas are so important because they highlight how similar these experiences are. They paint an important picture about not normalizing abusive behaviour and believing/supporting women when they say they have been harassed.

The sheer number of stories that have been told is dizzying and mind boggling considering the fact that we claim to live in a civilized society. Major claps for Everyday Sexism for using negative experiences to teach solidarity.