An influencer can be anyone; from being Hollywood famous to being well-known on the internet. While many aim to entertain the public, some use their creative platforms to do more than this. They speak out about taboo topics to shine a light on them and get others talking.
Jonathan Joly is an Irish YouTuber living in London. His channel ‘SacconneJolys’ has over 1.8 million subscribers. He posts vlogs along with his wife Anna Saccone and three children Emilia, Eduardo and Alessia about their daily lives. The family are in the public eye, but they really are just ordinary people.
Jonathan is known for talking about subjects such as mental health and raising awareness for a number of different charities. Anna has also spoken about her experience with an eating disorder. Yet, On October 11, Jonathan posted a video that shocked everyone.
He posted a video titled ‘I Am A Victim Of Sexual Assault’. The video outlines the details of sexual abuse he suffered at the age of 19. The incident happened 20 years ago, and before making the video, the only person Jonathan had told was his wife.
“It haunted me. It still haunts me. It affected how I felt intimately with other people,” said Jonathan. He explains how you try to brush it off and think it was nothing, but it’s constantly still lurking in the back of your mind.
It is a heavy video that is difficult to watch but it is so important. In the 14 minute long video, Jonathan struggles to get the words out and this shows how hard it is for people to speak about being a victim of sexual assault.
“I want to make the video and I want to share the story, but at the same time I don’t want anyone to watch it.”
Yet he does make the video and he does share his story with over a million people. He knows that talking about his personal experience on his creative platform with a huge number of viewers will help so many people.
“I am in a position of influence. I am quite well known and I have a platform and an audience. I feel compelled to share this story, this cautionary tale, for young people out there. And not just girls, for boys and girls. For anybody out there.”
Jonathan talks about the shame victims feel and how it stops them from telling anyone. They feel as though somehow it is their fault. But it is not.
“I felt so dirty, ashamed and shocked. I didn’t know what to do. I just went home, had a shower and never told anyone.”
“I’ve always felt too ashamed to every tell anyone about it because I feel like it’s my fault. I feel like I must have done something wrong. Did I lead him on, did I suggest to do this?”
“I think that shame is what makes people not talk about it. That’s the point of this video. If I don’t say something, if I don’t tell my story, other people aren’t going to tell their stories”
Jonathan decided to come out about his experience as a result of the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. More women have come out accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment and rape, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cara Delevingne.
Alyssa Milano recently launched the #Metoo twitter campaign which is another great example of how an influencer can use their creative platform to raise awareness.
“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem,’” Milano wrote in her note that introduced the #MeToo campaign.
America Ferrera, Melanie Lynskey, Viola Davis, Debra Messing, Anna Paquin and Pauley Perrette are just some of the many influencers who have used the campaign to speak out about their experiences with sexual assault.
“The way somebody is made feel is so inadequate and shameful because this has happened, you just don’t want to tell anyone that it happened. Therefore by not saying it happened, it did not happen and therefore it continues to happen,” said Jonathan.
His bravery in speaking out is incredible and inspiring. Sexual assault is a topic that needs to be talked about, and influencers like Jonathan Joly using their creative platforms to spark this conversation is a massive step in the right direction in making a change. The platform you use for your art can contain so much more than just art, it can contain pieces of who you are. Art is a window into the soul of the creator and we should not be ashamed of sharing that.
“If I can be brave, then maybe other people can be brave and other people can speak up. The more we talk about something the less likely it is to happen again. So speak up, tell your stories, don’t let people in power abuse you, don’t let people have control over you or your body or your actions.”