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#WhenIWas is currently trending on Twitter. It’s the top trend in the UK. The campaign, started by @EverydaySexism, aims to show the vast extent of abuse that so many people (young women in particular) have experienced on so many different levels. Users are invited to share their experiences of sexual harassment, violence and assault openly. An hour ago, they had over 20,000 stories.

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This is not the first time people have gone online to share their stories of abuse. #WhenIWas is yet another hashtag along with #EverydaySexism and #YesAllWomen to show the extent of abuse that people in the UK have been through.

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From slut shaming, to victim blaming, to stories of grotesque abuse, users are congregating online and sharing their most intimate stories. It’s out there. For everyone to see…

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…Which is amazing. But why is it that we can share some of our darkest secrets with the world wide web, when the idea of sharing them with a friend can seem impossible? Even, when we’re aware that the world wide web can and is more likely to judge us than the friends we talk to?

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Sexual abuse remains such a taboo subject in mainstream media, and in our day to day lives too. I can’t remember the last time someone spoke to me face to face about being sexually harassed. It’s not an easy conversation to have.

But that doesn’t mean we should just talk about it online only. These stories need to be shared. Not just on social, but in our real lives as well.

Children need to be taught (before they know what Twitter is) that it’s ok to talk out about anyone that makes them uncomfortable. In fact, it should be encouraged. And this openness should continue into our teenage years. And our adult life.

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The hashtag is amazing. The people submitting their stories are amazing. They’re brave. And not alone. The virality of the tag proves it.

Keep the conversation online, but let’s do more offline too. The huge amount of engagement this hashtag has had serves as a painful reminder just how normalised sexual harassment has become.

We shouldn’t stop at Twitter.

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