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After the Jane Austen announcement I suffered rape threats for 48 hours, but I'm still confident the trolls won't win

Let's start feeding the trolls.

Caroline Criado-Perez.
Caroline Criado-Perez (right) with Mary Macleod, Mark Carney and Stella Creasy unveiling the new Jane Austen £10 note. Photograph: Getty.

On Wednesday the 24 July, the Bank of England made the historic announcement that, in response to over 35,000 people signing a petition, they were confirming Jane Austen as the next historical figure on banknotes.

“this Perez one just needs a good smashing up the arse and she’ll be fine”

Even better from my perspective, the Bank of England also agreed to institute a review of its criteria and procedures, admitting that its current processes were inadequate if they wanted to live up to promote equality.

“Everyone jump on the rape train > @CCriadoPerez is conductor”; “Ain’t no brakes where we’re going”

The day was overwhelming. Press from all over the world were getting in touch, wanting to talk about the power of social media, and how ordinary people could take on a huge institution and win.

“Wouldn’t mind tying this bitch to my stove. Hey sweetheart, give me a shout when you’re ready to be put in your place”

This has been my life for the past three days: a mixture of overwhelming pride at what we can achieve when we stick together – and overwhelming horror at the vehement hatred some men still feel for women who don’t “know their place”.

The rape threats started on Thursday, and have continued for the past forty-eight hours. And this experience is by no means unique to me. Amid the abuse, I have received countless messages from women telling me of their experiences. The head of WHO called violence against women a “global health problem of epidemic proportions”; she should take a look at twitter, where we have our own nasty little epidemic: an epidemic of misogynistic men who feel so threatened by any woman speaking up, that they feel they must immediately silence her with a threat of sexual violence.

There are those who tell me that I shouldn’t feed the trolls. Ignore them, they’ll get bored and go away. They’re just looking for attention.

Except these ones are different. They’re not looking for attention. They are purely and simply looking to shut me, and any other woman who dares use her voice in public, “the fuck up”. And we shouldn’t give them what they want. We shouldn’t give them what they want because we have a right to speak and be heard. And we shouldn’t give them what they want because, when we don’t, we are stronger than them.

The don’t feed the trolls adage is one that suggests they have the power. But if my experience from the last 48 hours does anything, it is to give the lie to this impression. Troll accounts have been going private left right and centre. My twitter mentions are now overflowing with messages of support, messages from people saying that they want to shout back too. Messages from people realising that if we use our voice in unison, we are legion.

While Twitter’s manager of News and Journalism, Mark S. Luckie, locked his account when a people started tweeting him to tell him about the hours of rape threats I had been receiving, countless more have stood with me. One person, Kim Graham, set up a petition asking twitter to put a “report abuse” button on each tweet; it’s received over 6,000 signatures in about an hour. And it will only continue to grow.

Over the past few days I have been overwhelmed by abuse, and I have been overwhelmed by support. I have felt elated – and I have felt close to defeat. But as I watch my timeline, it is clear which group is bigger. It is clear which group is louder. It is clear which group is stronger.

Let’s remember this. Let’s start feeding the trolls. Let’s start shouting back, and show them that we’re not going away, that we won’t be defeated. Let’s take them on. And let’s win.