#SurvivorPrivilege Trends On Twitter After Columnist Says Rape Survivors Lie To Get “Privileges”

The tweets that were sent were powerful and moving.

Mike Theiler / Reuters

In a weekend editorial that ran in the Washington Post and New York Post, columnist George Will caused outrage for writing that being a rape survivor on college campuses is now a “coveted status that confers privileges.”


Will’s column sparked an outcry on Twitter, and feminist writer and activist Wagatwe Wanjuki started the hashtag #SurvivorPrivilege, with tweeters recounting their own stories of sexual assault and violence. BuzzFeed spoke with Wanjuki about Will’s article and what inspired her to start the hashtag.

What was your initial reaction to George Will’s article?


Wagatwe Wanjuki: My initial reaction was that of incredulity. I could not understand how someone could ever begin to think that going through the trauma of sexual violence has benefits in any way, shape, or form.

Glad George Will showed how my #survivorprivilege of being blamed for my assault & ridiculed for coming forward is coveted.

— wagatwe (@Wagatwe Wanjuki)

What inspired you to begin the hashtag, and what do you hope will come from it?


WW: I honestly started the hashtag as a way to share my frustration with the notion that survivors have privilege. It’s one of those situations where I felt like I should laugh so I don’t cry, so I used my sarcasm to start a conversation about how difficult it is to be a survivor. I hope the hashtag will help highlight the absurdity of George Will’s column and that survivors are struggling in the aftermath of sexual violence. No one wants to be the victim of a violent crime.

How do you feel when you see people share their deeply personal stories using the hashtag you began?


WW: I am saddened that so many people have such heartbreaking stories. However, I am happy that people are finding community in something so terrible and showing publicly just how wrong George Will is. It is particularly deplorable that his piece was allowed to be printed considering how many horror stories about the very real, devastating effects of sexual violence have been prominent in the media lately.

All tweets shown here were used with permission. Join the #SurvivorPrivilege conversation on Twitter.

#survivorprivilege is getting op-ed after op-ed in your school's student newspaper revealing unnecessary details of your rape

— browniebabydoll (@♥Lana del Bae♥)

#SurvivorPrivilege is not wanting to celebrate your birthday because you share the same birthday as your attacker

— vociferous_girl (@Anastasia)

I guess #survivorprivilege is when colleges cover up assaults and pretend "that doesn't happen here" in order to appeal prospective students

— SarahAshleigh5 (@Sarah B.)

My #SurvivorPrivilege was being told by my mother I hadn't done enough to "keep myself safe" when talking about my rape.

— brazenqueer (@Ⓐ ‏#GrumpyCuntSec Ⓐ)

#SurvivorPrivilege means existing in a space where even the person you love can trigger memories of the worst thing that ever happened.

— aemccarthy (@Amy McCarthy)

having to quit your job to get your boss to stop harassing you, but still not feeling safe on campus. #survivorprivilege

— jenvaljean2 (@Jennifer Selvidge)

#SurvivorPrivilege was losing all my friends when they decided it was easier to remain friends with my rapist than stand with me.

— RSwirling (@Robyn Swirling)

#SurvivorPrivilege is having to shake your abuser's hand at every family get-together because God forgives and old country secrets stay hid.

— JaradDewing (@Wolfie J. Sugarbear)

#SurvivorPrivilege is being told I lied because "nobody would do something like that" to a pregnant woman.

— AimeeRosie (@Aimee)

#survivorprivilege is giving up custody of my daughter for three months while I was experiencing acute forms of PTSD

— CarrieMayLucas (@Carrie May Lucas)

My #survivorprivilege being told that my uncle molesting me was my fault and being threatened to be killed because of it.

— kagriffin77 (@Kelly Griffin)

#SurvivorPrivilege is being questioned about the details so they can tell if you were "just" assaulted or not.

— nonsequiteuse (@Andrea Greer)

#survivorprivilege is being scared to report assault because you already know there is little support for survivors

— BiMahogany (@BlackWomenSlay)

#SurvivorPrivilege is being told you have to be penetrated to have your sexual assault matter & your anger is pointless.

— sunflwer1975 (@Cherie L King)

The idea that someone could actually suggest that sexual assault victim is some sort of status symbol is nauseating #SurvivorPrivilege

— vetbarbie (@Sassy McBlonde)

#survivorprivilege is being told you were a moron for drinking on a date because you were then raped while blacked out.

— AllisonGranted (@Allison Grant)

#SurvivorPrivilege is having to explain my triggers to every partner I have had and will have in case I freak out on them.

— Katie_Speak (@Katie Klabusich)

Having PTSD and people telling you you're being dramatic bc you didn't go to war #SurvivorPrivilege

— CherBearBlue9 (@CherBearBlue9)

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