#wheniwas goes viral as women share heartbreaking stories of sexual abuse

The EverydaySexism project called on women to reveal how young they were when they first experienced sexism and sexual harassment, and the answers were both distressing and unsurprising.

by Hannah Ongley
20 April 2016, 4:18pm

The statistics surrounding sexual assault are horrific. One out of every six American women has been a victim of rape, with 15 percent of these victims under the age of 12. And that's just the reported cases. Even more frightening is how easy it is to become numb to such faceless information, which makes it all the more important to hear the personal experiences of women who have been these victims. Yesterday we heard a lot of them on Twitter with a hashtag that quickly went viral. The doubly harrowing facet of #WhenIWas is that these are stories from people who were only children or young teenagers at the time. 

Everyday Sexism, a project that catalogs instances of sexism reported by women on an everyday basis, started the hashtag by tweeting: "Help us raise awareness of how early the problem can start by tweeting about your early experiences using the hashtag #WhenIWas." Very quickly it brought up some pretty heartbreaking anecdotes. And while the stories often involve some seriously messed up people — such as one Grade 6 teacher who held a beauty contest where boys were asked to vote by ranking the girls on a blackboard(?!) — the worst are often the most recognizable. More depressing still are the (male) responses to these tweets. Shout out to the dude to replied to one story with, "took you 30 years to fight back... Women are so weak lmao" for demonstrating the whole point perfectly.  


Text Hannah Ongley
Image via Flickr

sexual abuse
everyday sexism