A Survivor’s Take On Twitter, Privacy And Telling Somebody Else’s Rape Story

I feel for BuzzFeed writer Jessica Testa. While our blog may not get the massive traffic that BF does, I’ve still experienced brief bouts of hundreds of people being furious with me because I wrote something that genuinely held no ill-intent. I think that no matter how obvious it is that the Internet is full of millions of humans who disagree with you–who can and will let you know that in a heartbeat–it is still stressful when your words become a source of both brief and lengthy critical thought.

In case you missed it, this morning we wrote about a very incredible conversation started by Christine Fox (@steenfox). She asked survivors to tell her what they had been wearing when they were sexually assaulted, and the outpouring of responses were amazing. While we all knew the conclusion–it doesn’t matter what you were wearing, nothing you do attracts or invites rape–it was just so much more powerful when it came from survivors themselves.

So, when Jessica Testa compiled a list of these tweets for BuzzFeed, stating she had explicit permission from every user whom she quoted, many of the discussion’s participants and outsiders alike were upset about the amount of exposure these extremely personal details were getting. Christine Fox was asked permission regarding Testa’s use of her Twitter conversation, but apparently never gave it.

The amount of exposure the thread was getting was likely unexpected, as writer Anil Dash noted.

Rewind: To be honest, I missed all this was going down last night. I wish I had seen it, though I have little doubt in my mind that it would have made my night a rough one; I don’t have very much memory of my rapes because my brain blocked large chunks of my childhood and teen years out. Once upon a time nearly two years ago, I wrote about this for The Gloss. It was the first time I had ever talked about it on such a public level. Sure, people who knew me were aware of my PTSD, or at least that I was “crazy”–I was a raging drunk who had frequent panic attacks and a very poor handle on reality–but I had not yet written it out all at once that way. The guilt and regret I had experienced on a daily basis for nearly a decade were desperate to come out, so they did.

After I sent my piece in and it was published, I felt profound sense of relief. I was crying and I was sick, sure, but I was relieved. I chose to tell my story, I chose to have my article published, I chose to have strangers read it. In doing so, I shared one of my most personal, painful stories and wound up communicating with many other survivors in the process–something that made me feel less fucked up, less lonely, less guilty.

When I read through the tweets from last night’s discussion, I felt that same sort of relief and warmth, like a blanket of knowledge reminding me that I’m still not alone. Of course, I do not know the motivations of the survivors who participated in @steenfox’s discussion because I don’t get to speak for them. Yes, I’m a survivor too, but we all have our own stories and even among those who have experiences, there are so many different opinions and feelings toward how others talk about our stories. And that brings me back around to the “ethics” debate.

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    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Ye Olde Murderthread.

      • Samantha Escobar

        Ye New Disqus Upvote.

      • Amanda

        I may not agree with everything written on this website, but I can’t imagine ever wanting to rape or kill one of you writers. A lot of the time, I read The Gloss because the view points are much more liberal than mine and I feel like it’s healthy to read things that you don’t necessarily agree with because it forces you to constantly challenge your own worldview. But I respect all of you and you are all quite brave and share much more of your personal lives and stories than I would ever be brave enough to. I’ve seen a lot of bashing in the comments on here lately and I just wanted to let all of you know that even if I don’t agree with your viewpoints, I love to read the things that you write.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        This is the best!

      • Samantha Escobar

        Agreed with Alexis, this is the best thing! Thank you :)

      • Cindy McNary

        Well stated, Amanda. It was a pleasure to read an adult, calm, reasoned response to a fine article.

        Samantha, thank you for sharing your story. This is my first time on Gloss, but it won’t be my last. Best to you always.

      • FemelleChevalier

        I actually clicked on that and WHOAH.

        I wanted to apologize, though. There’s an entry there and I kinda chuckled when I read it (because it’s SO ridiculous). Is that bad? I DIDN’T MEAN TO, I PROMISE.

        But really, I hope that those awful, unimportant, and anonymous — albeit morbidly imaginative — trolls won’t deter nor affect you. While sometime I, too, don’t agree with some of your articles, your humor and sarcasm nevertheless makes me laugh every time — as do most (Some? A few? A handful? Is fingerful a thing?) of your readers, I’m sure (No, not really. I’m horrible at guessing).

        If it makes makes you feel better (or something), I’ll share a thing or two. I’m suffering from MD since I was a kid. Most of us with this disorder likes/needs (sometimes) to be surrounded with happy/funny people as a therapy of some sort to compensate with our low moods.

        Now, I’m mostly cooped up at home reviewing for exams and internet and TV is my only source of entertainment — I can’t afford to waste my time going to a store just to get a bottle of vodka and binge drink. I, then, lazily surfed the net and this is the first celebrity site I found that primarily focus on being satirical, so I started reading.

        And then I found out that you’re a (mostly) funny bunch, so I like you folks a lot. You also double as my therapy and it’s for FREE! That’s awesome! Thanks!

        …it’s free, right? RIGHT??

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        $200, please!

        No but really, this is awesome, thanks so much for sharing. Sorry to hear about the MD aspect, but really glad we can contribute to your life in a positive way even when we don’t all agree! That makes me feel great.

        And yes, always feel free to laugh at that thread. I frequently Google it to do just that.

      • FemelleChevalier

        You’re welcome. Just wanted to share that with every person who says mean things to you (especially when they’re out of line), there will always be those who are simply laughing and enjoying your stuff. Just as long as you never “went out of line” with your articles (which hasn’t happen… YET).

        …and that advice cost you $250, but I’ll knock off the fifty bucks because I’ll be laughing at your expense later when I read that thread. :D

    • diane

      you are very brave and your take on this is correct

      • Samantha Escobar

        <3 Thank you for reading!

    • FemelleChevalier

      You know, one of the most insightful, sensible writers here in my opinion (besides Cathryn) is you. And I commend your strength; experiencing trauma and trying to live with it isn’t exactly an easy task. It takes strength and determination.

      In addition, I like your take on this. Awareness really is important because it raises the issue so that people will know that yes, this IS an issue that needs to be looked at. And what better way than the internet? (Just ignore the trolls, though.)

      • Samantha Escobar

        Thank you so much, seriously. I think readers underestimate how much we actually care about you guys, so when we hear negative things it genuinely makes us sad (unless it’s from like, random MRA trolls) and when we hear positive things it makes our day 100x better. And it makes writing openly, honestly easy. <3