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Been raped tweets help break silence, expose shame.

Ever since Montreal Gazette reporter Sue Montgomery and Toronto Star writer Antonia Zerbesias co-created the hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported in October, thousands of people have come together virtually to share their experiences of sexual assault.

Explained Montgomery, a justice reporter at the Gazette, "In the wake of the Jian Ghomeshi scandal, I impulsively and angrily composed a 140-character tweet with the hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported.

"I tweeted that I had been raped and never reported it. I tweeted about sexual abuse at the hands of my grandfather and how the police didn't believe me."

It was a watershed moment--and not only for Montgomery and Zerbesias. Twitter postings came from South Korea, South Africa and Colombia. Media interest in the campaign reached Pakistan--a sign of the force with which the floodgates of silence were opened. Sharing experiences in 140-word postings served as a kind of virtual international consciousness-raising group. For participants, it affirmed victims' dignity and served as an expression for their rage and suffering.

Montreal supporters of the BeenRapedNeverReported online community held a fundraiser in December at Cabaret La Tulipe to celebrate the broken silence and to reflect upon the Ecole Polytechnique shooting on December 6, 1989, at which 14 women were shot and killed. Native drumming, Haitian dance and live music were part of the celebratory evening, and proceeds were donated to the Native Women's Shelter and the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre.

Montgomery hopes BeenRaped NeverReported will "unleash a global revolution" by encouraging women to refuse to be shamed by sexual violence.

"Let's transform this discussion into action," Montgomery said. "We are more powerful and stronger than we think."

Of the 460,000 sexual assaults estimated to take place each year in Canada, 90 percent are not reported.

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Author:Mitchell, Penni
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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