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#TheEmptyChair Opens Up a Painful, Powerful Dialogue About Sexual Violence

35 women shared their trauma with New York Magazine. Thousands more joined on Twitter.

Image via Flickr user Flabber Degasky

On Sunday, New York Magazine published a groundbreaking article featuring stories from 35 women who claimed that Bill Cosby assaulted them. The 36th chair, which came to be known as #TheEmptyChair, was left empty to symbolize stories from survivors who weren’t featured in this article, but who also had painful stories of sexual trauma that desperately needed to be heard. Like lightning, users on Twitter started sharing their stories and voicing their support for a problem that, for far too long, has been silenced.


In less than 24 hours, the Tweet had been used 13,000 times. Journalist Elon James White started using the hashtag, sharing statements from women who had direct messaged him, but weren’t comfortable sharing their stories themselves. Of course, members of the Internet also abused the conversation (welcome to the Internet), but by and large, the conversations held were critical, meaningful, and powerful. Take a look at some of the stories below.

(Via: The Washington Post)

[tweet url="https://twitter.com/JamilSmith/status/625521703096090625" author="Jamil Smith" handle="JamilSmith" text="Do not wait for a man to speak to believe women who are already talking. Nothing to add. #TheEmptyChair" date="2015-07-29" time=""]

[tweet url="https://twitter.com/janetmock/status/625478627220692994" author="Janet Mock" handle="janetmock" text="#TheEmptyChair signals the women who couldn't come forward mostly b/c we, as a culture, wouldn't believe them" date="2015-07-06" time=""]

[tweet url="https://twitter.com/FeministaJones/status/625770693238591488" author="Feminista Jones" handle="feministajones" text="Perhaps #TheEmptyChair will finally get long-time deniers of systematic sexist oppression via sexual assault to accept the reality..." date="2015-07-27" time=""]

[tweet url="https://twitter.com/schemaly/status/625510663826337792" author="Soraya Chemaly" handle="schemaly" text="#Cosby is a visible & repugnant example of #RapeCulture, but #TheEmptyChair can be filled by hundreds of thousands " date="2015-07-26" time=""]

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