Speaking Out Online: The Benefits and Risks of Speaking About Sexual Violence for Young People

Tanya Serisier

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Speaking out about sexual violence has been a fundamental part of feminist politics since the 1970s. The practice of narrating experiences of violence, either publicly or to friends and family aims to combat the culture of silence and stigmatisation that surrounds sexual violence while also helping individuals to gain a sense of empowerment and connect with other survivors. However, speaking out also contains inherent risks, especially for young people. Survivors may meet with stigmatising or disbelieving responses, and they may lose control over who knows their story and the way in which it is told and retold.
These risks and benefits are altered, and potentially exacerbated, in an online environment. While social media may increase survivors’ ability to contact and connect with others with similar experiences it also makes it harder to control when and how their story is shared. The disjuncture between online and offline environments may also increase feelings of stigmatisation and isolation.
There is a need to explore the specific risks and benefits of speaking out online given both young people’s extensive use of social media for social interactions and the increasing tendency for support and educational services targeted at young people to make use of social media and online environments. This paper draws on literature and some preliminary research to consider both risks and benefits of speaking out online and to open a conversation about the creation of supportive spaces and mechanisms for young people to speak about sexual violence in online environments.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2015
EventYoung People Affected By Sexual Violence as Change Makers in Prevention Efforts - Cumberland Lodge, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Sep 201529 Sep 2015

Conference

ConferenceYoung People Affected By Sexual Violence as Change Makers in Prevention Efforts
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityLondon
Period28/09/201529/09/2015

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