How we talk about sexual assault online | Ione Wells | Summary and Q&A

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How we talk about sexual assault online | Ione Wells


The speaker discusses her experience of assault and the power of social media in addressing injustice.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What happened to the speaker on her way home from a night out with friends?

The speaker was attacked by a young man who followed her from the underground station. He assaulted her, beat her, and dragged her to the ground before ripping off her clothes.

Q: What inspired the speaker to write about her experience?

The speaker wanted to find a way to condense her feelings of vulnerability, shame, and injustice into something ordered that she could work through. Writing about her experience felt most natural to her and served as a cathartic exercise.

Q: What did the speaker do after writing about her experience?

The speaker decided to publish her letter in the student paper at Oxford University, hoping to reach out to others who may have had a similar experience. She also asked others to share their experiences under the hashtag "#NotGuilty" to create a community of survivors speaking out against sexual assault.

Q: What impact did the speaker's letter have?

The letter went viral overnight, and the speaker received hundreds of stories from men and women across the world, which she published on a website she created. The hashtag "#NotGuilty" became a campaign, and the letter was covered by national press and translated into several languages.

Q: What concerns does the speaker have about the online response to injustice?

The speaker is concerned that the online reaction to injustice can sometimes be reactive without leading to meaningful change. It can also drown out the voices of those directly affected and perpetuate a sense of defeatism, creating a binary between the affected and the perpetrators.

Q: How does the speaker suggest using social media as a tool for social justice?

The speaker encourages a more considered approach to social media responses to injustice. She advises asking why the injustice is felt and how it can be reversed, whether through holding perpetrators accountable, opening up discussions, or educating others. She also emphasizes the importance of not reacting instantly and thinking before speaking on social media.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker recounts a personal experience of sexual assault and the emotional aftermath.

  • They wrote a letter addressing their attacker and started a campaign called #NotGuilty to provide a platform for others to share their experiences.

  • The campaign went viral and received stories from men and women around the world, sparking discussions and creating a sense of empowerment and solidarity.

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