Speaking out, ‘speaking in’ and safety work in the digital sphere: understanding online disclosures in the aftermath of sexual violence

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  • 1 Victoria University, , Australia
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This article examines why victim-survivors of sexual violence disclose their experiences online. Drawing on findings from qualitative interviews conducted with victim-survivors, the discussion expands upon scholarly framings of ‘speaking out’ in digital spaces. The proliferation of the #MeToo movement has led to significant interest in digital activism surrounding sexual and gender-based violence, and disclosures are often articulated within feminist scholarship as constituting a political act. Findings reveal that victim-survivors understand their own digital practices with nuance and complexity, and their disclosures address a range of needs that are often apolitical. Participants primarily saw their disclosures as a way to connect with peers, to provide and receive support, and to share their stories ‘safely’. These motivations influence how and where victim-survivors disclose online, and complicate scholarly notions of digital activism as a response to sexual violence. The discussion presents important implications for how digital space and disclosure practices are understood, highlighting the significance of considering the diverse needs that victim-survivors have when speaking about their experiences online.

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  • 1 Victoria University, , Australia

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