Sexual and gender-based violence: To tweet or not to tweet?

Abstract

This research explores the reasons that lead survivors of sexual and gender-based violence to share their experiences on Twitter, as well as the reasons that prevent them from doing so. Using an online survey, we investigated the perspective of 94 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. Open-ended responses were analysed with the ALCESTE method, a lexical analysis. Considering that in-person self-disclosure differs from in-public self-disclosure, we based our interpretations of the findings on self-disclosure as well as collective action and social activism frameworks. Results showed that those who shared their experience on Twitter did so to render sexual and gender-based violence more visible, and to support the #MeToo movement. They also wanted to change public perceptions of sexual and gender-based violence, while addressing violence at work and denouncing rape culture (the difficulty of filing a complaint, and victim blaming). On the contrary, survivors who did not tweet their experience expressed several concerns, such as feeling ashamed, the fear of being judged by others, and a lack of trust in the Twitter platform and its members. This research concludes that in order to understand the disclosure of victimisation on social network sites, like Twitter, it is worthwhile to complement the self-disclosure framework with insights on collective action and social activism. We also make a call for taking into account differences of social network sites when studying online disclosure of sexual and gender-based violence. Content warning: This article discusses issues of sexual and gender-based violence.

Bibliographic citation

Masciantonio, A., Schumann, S., & Bourguignon, D. (2021). Sexual and gender-based violence: To tweet or not to tweet?. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 15(3), Article 4. doi:https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2021-3-4

Keywords

Twitter; sexual and gender-based violence; self-disclosure; collective action; social network sites

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