riot grrrl showed me that this stuff really happens. that sexual abuse, rape and violence have been experienced by so very many young women. riot grrrl demonstrated, in typewritten and scrawled words and screams and guitars the sheer power of breaking the silence. that survivors have the right to tell their truth of what happened to them.
this is kind of a first step. as a woman (as a person) among the minority who have never experienced any physical violation, how did i become someone who is prepared to accept that these violations are real? i ask because i am frustrated and angered and saddened all the time by people who turn away from this. who deny and minimise and blame the victim. who turn away in their own minds from what their friends have been through. "if women told the truth for one day..." survivors are telling the truth, and survivors are waiting to be asked. abuse requires silence and denial. abuse withers when people look it in the face and start dealing with it.
if you have the privilege of never having experienced abuse you owe it to the world to figure out how to be an ally to those who have. like any other form of privilege: your comfort is at the expense of silencing and oppressing those who lack your privilege. this is unacceptable. you can start by accepting that you know people who have been through abuse, even if no one's ever told you such a thing. (if this is the case you could also ask yourself why no one's felt comfortable sharing this with you. do you indicate in your speech or behaviour that you deny or minimise abuse or hold victims at all responsible? do you make jokes about rape and/or paedophilia? how would you know if someone who'd experienced rape and/or paedophilia was in the room?). then the next step is, if someone tells you they have experienced intimate violence, believing them. meanwhile you could do some research about abuse, how it works, what effects it has, and how to support survivors. there is a lot of material out there to help you help people you care about. at some point i will make a list of the ones i know about on this blog. a starting point could be Support zine.
"I am not proposing that sexual violence and domestic violence will no longer exist. i am proposing that we create a world where so many people are walking around with the skills and knowledge to support someone that there is no longer a need for anonymous hotlines..."
Rebecca Farr of CARA, in The Revolution Starts at Home zine produced by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence.