#Me(n)Too? Online Social Support Toward Male and Female Survivors of Sexual Victimization

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13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Much has been written about the difficulty of sexual victimization survivors to disclose their experiences to others and about the crucial role social support play in their recovery process. However, the vast majority of the literature has focused on face-to-face interactions, while in recent years, more and more victims are turning to online self-disclosure, whether privately or as part of proactive network protests such as the #MeToo hashtag campaign. The few existing studies that examined online responses to disclosures of sexual victimization have focused on female survivors only and didn’t examine whether men and women elicit different responses based on gender stereotypes. The current study addresses this lacuna through a quantitative content analysis of 2,635 responses to 734 self-disclosures of male and female survivors of sexual victimization published on Facebook and Twitter during the first 3 weeks of the #MeToo and #WhyIDidntReport protests in Israel (October 2017 and October 2018, respectively). The findings indicate that social networks, despite some of their affordances, such as lack of eye contact or physical gestures, are supportive environments for survivors of sexual victimization of both sexes. However, women who self-disclose online are more likely to receive emotional support and network support, whereas men are more likely to receive retributive support—a new support type that was found in the current study. The conclusion is that users’ reactions to sexual victimization disclosures are mainly supportive but are also affected by gender stereotypes. Practical and theoretical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)NP13541-NP13563
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Volume36
Issue number23-24
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • #MeToo
  • #WhyIDidntReport
  • feminist hashtag campaigns
  • self-disclosure
  • sexual victimization
  • social support

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