Feminist author who faced barrage of online hate launches Twitter campaign

Written by Sahana Venugopal

A prominent scholar has been the target of online abuse, including a sexually explicit comment from a former student ambassador at The University of Sheffield.

According to The Tab, the former student used vulgar slang to comment on Dr Jessica Taylor’s body while responding to the launch of her new book and campaign.

Dr Taylor, a senior lecturer in forensic and criminal psychology who specializes in victim-blaming, created a Twitter hashtag – #IWasBlamed – over the weekend inviting women and girls to share their stories.

The student claimed she was against Dr Taylor’s mode of feminism.

On Sunday, Dr Taylor launched “#IWasBlamed” on Twitter, along with a photo of her newly published novel, ‘Why Women Are Blamed for Everything’.

The book is a result of Dr Taylor’s own interviews with women and girls for her consultancy firm VictimFocus, which researches victim-blaming and offers educational resources.

Yet in the last week, Dr Taylor has been subjected to hateful messages, sexually explicit comments, and threats from cyber trolls, as a result of her book and the Twitter campaign.

The abuse was so severe Dr Taylor’s own personal computer was hacked, according to a police investigation.

An example of the comments aimed at Dr Taylor [screenshot from Twitter]

Despite the threats, including those from alt-right websites, thousands of women have come forward to share their own victim-blaming experiences.

Some posted screenshots of messages they had received from strangers blaming them for being assaulted, or even called out their abusers. 

One woman used the hashtag and posted a photo of herself with a bruised eye. 

Another claimed she was blamed for her abuser’s suicide and that she was called his “girlfriend” while she was a minor.

The “I Was Blamed” hashtag quickly became a Twitter trend in the UK. 

At its peak, #IWasBlamed featured in over 10,000 tweets on Sunday. [Screenshot via Trends24.in]

Dr Taylor used the hashtag to explain how she was blamed by people around her, including the police, at times in her life when trying to report an abuser.

Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham, Yardley, retweeted the post, and wrote: “I was blamed for every abuse I suffered.”

Dr Amy Kavanagh, a visually impaired activist, used the hashtag to write about how others blamed her when men took advantage of her blindness to inappropriately touch her.

Dr Taylor later wrote: “#iwasblamed is trending at #3 twitter trends and it’s only taken women a few hours to achieve that. The reason it was so easy is because millions of women are blamed for the violence of men. This is why I wrote my book.”

Dr Taylor’s book ‘Why Women Are Blamed for Everything’ was launched today. 

The University of Sheffield did not respond to requests for comment.

If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this story, know that help is near. Get in touch with The Samaritans or The Refuge today.

Written by Sahana Venugopal

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