When Kaylee Kapatos posted on Facebook this month that she was a survivor of domestic violence, using the hashtag #WhyIStayed, the response among her friends was muted.
Only the week before, she had posted about sexual assault with the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport and got what she called “overwhelmingly positive feedback.”
“It’s totally different,” said Ms. Kapatos, 25, who works as a residence life coordinator at Michigan Technological University. “People just don’t want to talk about it.”
Over the past year, the #MeToo movement has transformed culture, in many ways expanding beyond sexual assault and harassment to become a transcendent force for empowering women. There have been discussions about what it’s like for women to go on bad dates, how women must calculate the risk of mundane tasks like selling an item online or going on a run, and why it’s important to believe women when they tell their stories.
But how does domestic violence, one of the most common ways women suffer at the hands of men, fit into that conversation?
October is domestic violence awareness month. We talked to experts and survivors about why the conversation around domestic violence differs from sexual assault and what would need to change for domestic violence to have its own cultural reckoning.
Domestic violence victims often have serious safety concerns that keep them from sharing publicly.
In 2018, the National Domestic Violence Hotline and its youth outreach effort, loveisrespect, have experienced a 30 percent increase in calls, texts and chats compared with the same period last year — a larger than usual year-over-year increase.
“We think #MeToo is part of that,” said Katie Ray-Jones, the chief executive of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
She believes that domestic violence victims identify with the national conversation, but that they feel safer speaking confidentially as opposed to sharing publicly on Facebook or Twitter.