Why April 24 TikTok Hoax Is 'Harmful' to Survivors of Sexual Violence

Over the past week, TikTok users have been making videos warning people about an alleged "national day" of rape and sexual assault.

They warned that videos were circulating on the platform where some men had allegedly declared April 24 "National Rape Day." Some said they were not sure if the claims were a joke, but warned people to be wary on the day just in case.

But a spokesperson for TikTok told Newsweek that it has not found any evidence of videos promoting a "national" day of carrying out rape and sexual assault on the app.

They added that "our safety team is remaining vigilant and we will remove content that violates our policies."

Now, anti-sexual violence organizations have told Newsweek about how the hoax is harmful to survivors of sexual violence.

"Language that condones sexual assault is unacceptable and harmful to survivors," Heather Drevna, the vice president of communications at RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), said.

"Sexual assault is never something to joke about or make light of, and we are glad to see so many speaking out against it in response."

A spokesperson for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) told Newsweek that rape jokes are "always harmful"—including those made in online spaces.

"When unchecked, rape jokes send a harmful message that the trauma of sexual assault is not taken seriously—and that it's okay to use that trauma to be deliberately offensive or shocking for attention on the internet," the spokesperson said.

"Just because disrespectful, dehumanizing, or threatening comments take place behind a screen, it doesn't make their impact on the victim any less real."

For support, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-656-HOPE(4673) or visit the RAINN website to chat online with a trained staff member who can provide confidential crisis support.

Experts warn that such comments can traumatize survivors of sexual assault and normalize not taking sexual abuse seriously.

"Sexist jokes, rape jokes, and victim-blaming comments may not seem like that big of a deal, but they contribute to the same way of thinking that fuels real-life violence," the NSVRC spokesperson said.

"When sexual harassment, abuse, and assault are minimized in online comments, videos, memes, or otherwise, our real-world spaces are influenced by those same disrespectful beliefs and attitudes."

They added: "Although these experiences are unfortunately all too common in the online world, it does not make them any less harmful."

Noting that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the spokesperson added: "When all of us see our role in keeping others safe online by stepping in when we see harmful content or comments, we can build an environment where this type of content cannot thrive."

Learn more about how to prevent online sexual harassment and abuse on the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website.

TikTok illustration
This illustration picture taken on May 27, 2020 in Paris shows the logo of the social network application TikTok. Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images