Thousands of women took to Twitter to share accounts of sexual assault Friday after news broke that Donald Trump bragged about how his star-power entitles him to "move on" women and grope them in a leaked tape from 2005.
"You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful… I just start kissing them," the Republican presidential nominee told former "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush on their way to an appearance on "Days of Our Lives." "I don't even wait."
Trump defended it on Twitter as "locker-room" talk and later issued a half-apology, but in response, Canadian author Kelly Oxford encouraged her female followers on Twitter to share their experiences of abuse and sexual assault. "They aren't just stats," Oxford wrote. "I'll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my 'pussy' and smiles at me, I'm 12."
"I want society as a whole to recognize how rampant sexual assault is," Oxford told VICE News.
Oxford's post went viral, and within an hour, she was receiving two sexual assault stories per second, she said. "Anyone denying rape culture, please look at my timeline now." She says over a million women have responded and shared their personal accounts of sexual assault and rape.
To her and other women, the comments exemplify rape culture — how sexual violence towards women is pervasive and normalized through cultural attitudes. The accounts shared on Twitter ranged from being groped at a party, at the mall, or on the subway, to being cornered in swimming pools, to being assaulted by a family member, to being touched inappropriately during a check-up at the doctor's office.
Here are some of the stories they shared, including some graphic accounts:
"Yesterday's Trump video contained a conversation all women have heard before," Oxford said, adding that she felt "shame" when Billy Bush laughed at Trump's description of grabbing women "by the pussy" — or when Trump said "it looks good" about a women.
"I don't know how to make young girls and women who are sexually assaulted not feel shame, or like they deserve to be touched," Oxford said. "The first time it happened … a man on a bus 'grabbed my pussy' when I was 12… I was just so shocked and embarrassed. I felt sick. I buried it. If I told people, what would it do? He was gone. They couldn't find him. I felt gross."
"I am not sure how to help change that mindset," Oxford added. "Right now, I know the sharing is helping women. They are telling me it is."
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women in the United States will be raped at some point in their lives, compared to one in 71 men. Nearly one in 10 women has been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime. 81 percent of women report "significant short-term or long-term impacts", such as post-traumatic stress disorder, from being sexually assaulted.
If you have been a victim of sexual assault and need help, visit https://www.rainn.org/ or call their National Sexual Assault Hotline, 800-656-HOPE (4673)