Three Simple Words
A couple of years ago on Twitter, the hashtag #IBelieveHer sprang up. It was in response to the Ched Evans case and, since then, the hashtag has become part of a feminist Twitter response to cases of sexual abuse, sexual violence and domestic abuse.
Sometimes it is specific to a particular woman; most recently #IBelieveDylan.
Mostly, it is used to demonstrate solidarity with a survivor who has disclosed.
It doesn't matter if they are anonymous, celebrities, famous or a woman on our twitter feed; the intention remains the same.
We use it so regularly and yet it's the one hashtag that has never lost it's impact or significance, and I think this is because so many survivors face disbelief as a matter of course.
We face disbelief from family, friends, partners and organisations.
@EVB_Now coined the term, 'Institutional Disbelief' to refer to women and children whose stories are doubted by professionals such as social workers, police officers, CPS, or the media.
Disbelief can be incredibly damaging to survivors, and having the strength to disclose your abuse takes a huge amount of courage. We know that when we disclose there is a 50-50 chance that we will be doubted. That the person we disclose to will ask questions that cast a question mark over your recollections and experiences.
Questions such as,
"are you sure?"
"Why didn't you tell someone sooner?"
"Do you think they misunderstood?"
This is why, when someone - anyone - says, "I believe you" it can be the most powerful three words in the world. To know that someone takes your word, accepts your experience, accepts your reality, I wonder if there is anything more powerful?
So, no matter how many times you are tweeted at by those who seek to undermine #IBelieveYou, let's keep saying it.
Thank you to all those who believe me. Your solidarity, support and acceptance has helped me to acknowledge my trauma and live a little easier.
To anyone reading this who has experienced any kind of abuse; I believe you.