– Anastasia Powell and Tully O’Neill

We tend to think of “justice” as meaning having one’s day in court – and that justice is done when the perpetrator is convicted and punished. But for many victim-survivors of sexual violence, that day may never come.

While one in five Australian women and one in 22 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime, most do not report it to police. Even for those who do, conviction is difficult. And the trial process can further add to victims’ trauma.

Research with victim-survivors has also repeatedly found that “justice” itself can mean many things. Some survivors describe “justice” as meaning that their experience is heard and the offender is held responsible for their actions.

Some victims also describe wanting to be able to tell the whole story about what happened to them to an audience that believes them and that acknowledges the wrongfulness of the harm done.

Perhaps this is why some survivors are using social media and other online platforms to share their experiences of sexual violence and seek support from a community of peers.

What’s happening online?

Digital technologies are receiving a lot of criticism for being tools for abuse, harassment and violence against women. You could be forgiven for thinking of the internet as, by design, a largely negative place for women. And it can be.

But technologies are tools and can be used in both negative and positive ways.

Victim-survivors are seeking support through anonymous and confidential reporting apps and sites for sexual assault. Free smartphone applications and websites such as SARA (in Australia), ASK DC and Callisto (in the US) provide information, support and anonymous reporting options for victims of sexual violence.

Read the full article on The Conversation.