Background: In September 2018, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused then-nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. When then-U.S. President Donald Trump questioned her credibility on Twitter, sexual assault survivors began tweeting their reasons for not reporting using the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport. This study examined how these posts were discussed on Twitter and to what extent the tweets fit within levels of the Social Ecological Model (SEM).
Method: This study used quantitative content analysis to code 1,000 tweets with #WhyIDidntReport for violence type, reasons for not reporting, and SEM levels.
Results: Overall, 68.7% of posts mentioned a specific reason for not reporting; of these, 24.1% referred to the perpetrator being in a position of power, 36.3% feared not being believed, and 20.6% mentioned that others invalidated the assault. In addition, 47.6% mentioned a specific form of violence. Within the SEM, 47.6% referred to individual, 52.6% to relational, 43.2% to community, and 21.7% to societal reasons for not reporting.
Conclusion: Reading social media content allows healthcare providers to directly discover how survivors talk about their experiences, priorities in the care environment, and how to support a patient-centered and trauma-informed approach.
Implications: Understanding reasons people do not report sexual assault is critical for healthcare professionals to engage patients in open, honest screening and intervention efforts.