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At Vidcon 2015, we sat down with Bree Essrig, Hannah Witton, and Lauren Fairweather to talk about how to best support friends who disclose.

THIS WEEK'S CALL TO ACTION: What are some things that you can say to respond to disclosures? How do we make sure that people feel safe when disclosing? Join the discussion using the hashtag #EngageUplift.

Engage by Uplift tackles the difficult issues surrounding sexual abuse that the YouTube and online communities face. We're starting real talk for real change.

Each week, our host Kat Lazo discusses abuse and how it manifests in virtual spaces. Watch and collaborate with us through weekly calls to action, and join in with some of your favorite YouTubers as they consider the issues in round table discussions.

Panelists:
Steve Zaragoza: https://twitter.com/stevezaragoza
Hannah Witton: https://twitter.com/hannahwitton
Lauren Fairweather: https://twitter.com/laurenmyrtle

Hosted by Kat Lazo: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheeKatsMeoww

Directed by Kelly Kend: http://kellykend.com/

Discussion questions by: Kelly Kend



Real talk for Real Change. #EngageUplift
Subscribe to our channel to get updates!

Follow Uplift- Online Communities Against Sexual Violence:
Website: http://uplifttogether.org
Tumblr: http://uplifttogether.tumblr.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/uplifttogether
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uplifttogether
KAT LAZO: Hey I'm Kat Lazo, also known as TheeKatsMeoww, and welcome to another episode of Engage by Uplift. We have with us Bree Essrig, Hannah Witton, and Lauren Fairweather. Yay! Okay, so let's get right into it. When someone close to you: a friend, family member discloses to you that they've been sexually assaulted, What would you say?

HANNAH WITTON: "Are you okay?" like, I kind of just think that's the first thing. BREE

ESSRIG: "What can I do," maybe? Like, "what can I do to help?"

LAUREN FAIRWEATHER: 'Cause there -- it's probably different for everybody. Whatever somebody has been through, people handle things in different ways. They might want you to hug them, they may not want to tell you very many things about it.

HANNAH: I think, ask a lot of questions.

BREE: The number one thing that's nice to hear is "It's not your fault."

KAT: Perhaps you shouldn't say anything; you should just listen a lot. So what are some things that we should never say to someone who is disclosing?

HANNAH: "What were you wearing? Were you drunk?"

BREE: "Well you were out way too late."

LAUREN: "Did you tell them to stop? More than once?"

BREE: "Did you make it really clear?"

HANNAH: "Are you sure you made it clear that you didn't want it? Like, are you super sure?"

LAUREN: "Could you have done something differently to avoid that happening to you?"

KAT: I feel like when someone is disclosing, you know, that they've been through a sexual assault, there's a lot of curiosity. How do you balance, you know, the curiosity that you have for what has happened, and also taking care of that person?

LAUREN: I think that a lot of humans have a natural inclination towards wanting to know the story. We are constantly watching television shows where there are -- it's an interesting story and we want to know this character development. Who -- where were both of these people coming from? And we have to remember this is not a television show! These are people! And you weren't there.

KAT: And like, we're not entitled -- we're not entitled to all the details.

HANNAH: Whatever information that they're willing to give you, that's kind of all you're going to know, really. For this week's call to action, we want you to think about things to say to a friend who has opened up about being assaulted or abused. People tend to not talk about sexual assault, so it's hard to know what to say. So let's work together to think of some good replies that you can draw on in case you ever need them.

KAT: What if this person who's disclosing this really intimate information -- what if they were someone that you didn't trust? How do you deal with that?

HANNAH: There's more than one way this can go. You can believe them and they're lying, and you've just believed someone who's lied. But it might not be that big a deal. You believe them and they're telling the truth, and you were there for them in this awful, awful situation. Or you don't believe them and they were lying; nothing comes of it. You don't believe them and they were telling the truth? Worst case scenario. So I think believe them.

BREE: I think you just comfort them the best you can, but at the same time just you know in the back of your mind know that maybe it's not the truth.

HANNAH: Another one of the big rape myths is that people lie about rape. And the more that we perpetuate that, and the more that we are like, "Are you sure? I don't believe them," the more it makes people think that that myth is true. And the reality of the situation is that it's a tiny, tiny portion. And they never, like, get to court. KAT: How do we support someone that we don't personally know who has disclosed that they've been sexually assaulted? It really depends, I think, the nature of their disclosure; What they're trying to do with it. If it's just sharing a story, and just being like, "This happened to me. You're not alone," or, "This happened to me. Avoid this person, they're toxic."

BREE: 'Cause so often when that happens, it's usually against somebody else who was in the public eye, and so the first instinct is to take the side of the person who is in the public eye, and you're like "But this person's so great at blah blah blah," they're so good at this," but that doesn't necessarily mean they're not a rapist.

KAT: What I'm thinking right now is about Bill Cosby and all of the several several women who came out and yet the public just didn't believe them.

BREE: One of the biggest arguments for that was, "Well, everyone's just trying to jump on the bandwagon and get their 15 minutes of fame."

HANNAH: It is a pattern that more people will come out once one person has, because they feel safer to do it.

LAUREN: Before that you may have assumed, "I'm totally alone." "This happened to me. What if this was just a fluke? What if this person would never do it again?" And at the same time, I also think that from the perspective of someone who might have previously enjoyed this creator's work, people are having to come to terms with the fact that you can't know everything about somebody that you watch on YouTube or on television. You could never know the entire story, and you have to acknowledge the fact that there's more about them than they're showing in their characters and in their videos.

KAT: Thank you so much for your time and for your honesty and your vulnerability. It's been amazing, thank you. All right that's it for this week. Thank you so much for watching. Don't forget to answer the call to action: What are some good replies for a friend who has opened up about being assaulted or abused? Use the hashtag #engageuplift on social media, or just leave a comment down below. And while you're at it, give this video a thumbs up if you found it helpful, and subscribe, 'cause, uh, why not? I'm Kat Lazo of TheeKatsMeoww. Bye!