Friends have send me screenshots of a conversation on FB yesterday. This is exactly the type of knee-jerk community response the OWF is trying to change.
Remember: Believe the Victim. Question the Accused.
First, the mockery:
I’ve said it on FB and I’ll say it again, anyone who mocks a group trying to create a safe place for survivors of sexualized violence is, at best, a crappy person. This particular person I had blocked weeks ago because of his misogynistic content. I see from these posts that it was a good decision.
I must say that I love public postings and screen shots. Takes the stereotypical he said/she said dilemma completely out of it.
Our community will not tolerate misogyny, and by publicly spreading misogynistic content, we will make this community unsafe for the predators. Spew misogynistic bullshit publicly and you will be outed as a sexist and a misogynist, and depending on the content, maybe as a predator, too. With screenshots.
Next, Rape Culture In Action:
Throughout the thread, in which this is only part, The Great Derailers were spewed here and there, predictably, and insinuations of a false accusation permeated every word. The one that hurt my heart was this one, from a fellow survivor. I’ve protected her identity for solely that reason.
What exactly didn’t she believe? That “No Means No” post was written nearly two years ago when I was in considerable pain and still quite trapped both in love and in a trauma bond with the perpetrator. I wrote accounts of events that spanned months, leaving the details of the most forceful part of the assault, the part that crossed into digital and oral rape, out of the description. I have since written updates that have outlined my evolving understanding of those events as I’ve learned more about rape culture, the rape spectrum, and through extensive rape recovery therapy over the past two years. So, what exactly doesn’t she believe?
Furthermore, she makes gross assumptions of what OWF is about without bothering to read what we’re actually about. The author JHA of Silver Goggles, by the way, is not one of the organizers for this “movement,” OWF, nor does she insinuate as such. JHA’s post was even entitled “In Solidarity.”
I find all the references to “slander” and threats of legal action rather comical, really, as it’s a tactic bullies use to silence victims. I’ve been threatened with legal action before, and I’ll say now what I said then. Bring it the fuck on. It would be an extremely expensive civil suit in which the accused would have to prove it significantly damaged his reputation AND that it’s NOT TRUE. I have a report with the NYC Police Department of the events, one they flew out to CA to collect in person. That’s how seriously they took my summary of events. I’ve documented the events publicly and privately. Plus, I have emails from him where he referenced how I tried to physically leave the room, and he blocked my exit with his body both times.
Bring it the fuck on.
Still. That’s all beside the point, although it’s a great example of our culture’s tendency to not believe the victim, even when she’s giving details, being transparent and honest, and he’s remaining silent.
This entire discussion was based around another prominent member of the Steampunk community, not my attacker, being called out for mansplaining and misogyny in the Silver Goggles post, stating that the author wouldn’t doubt it could escalate. Rumors about sexualized violence were at least inferred, and it’s this that the thread seemed to be focusing on. His name has since been removed from the article for the author’s safety, as threats ensued.
Predictably, again, the accused didn’t respond to the implied accusation or speak to events, but rather hid behind shouts of “slander” and the like. He even invoked the term “social lynch mob,” which is highly racist. Although he definitely knows *someone* was traumatized by his behavior, and he didn’t speak to that. He, in fact, confirmed the rumors just by referring to this someone, as Silver Goggles post didn’t put any details about any assault. But here, he confirms that he knows there is someone somewhere who is traumatized. He confirms it.***
I didn’t see what Mikeal finished saying, but if the beginning is any indication, I’m sure it had something to do with how he can’t believe he’d do such a thing. I could be wrong. Please let me remind you, fellow community members, if you’ve seen him around or shared a pint or had a conversation with the accused, YOU DON’T KNOW HIM! Even if you’re close friends, you don’t know him. I’m not saying the accused is or isn’t guilty of whatever he’s been accused of, but I am saying that predators hide in plain sight. Rapists look like everyone else up until the raping starts, and their victims are as surprised as anyone else.
Let us remember the most notorious sexual predators of our time, Catholic Priests, are great with women and children. They do so much for their communities. They work in the service of The Lord, AND some still molest children. I’m not calling the man in question a pedophile, not in the least. I don’t know him and have never met him. My point is that the excuse of “he seems a nice guy” doesn’t mean he is.
Now I’d like to see the man in question choose accountability over hiding behind reputation and rape culture rhetoric. I’d like to see him respond to the following questions without revealing the identity of who he clearly knows made the accusations, for her safety. Here is what to ask him:****
- What happened?
- Why were you pursuing/touching/having sex with her/him when s/he clearly wasn’t interested and/or said “no”?
- Why didn’t you listen to their “no” the first time?
- Why didn’t you wait for a “yes”?
- What are you going to do to make this better? To care for this traumatized person?
- Are you willing to do what the victim needs in order for her to feel safe/heard? For how long?
- Are you willing to make amends/take responsibility for your actions?
Then see how he responds. Is he willing to be held accountable for his actions?
Depending on their answers to these and other such questions, the community will decide whether or not the accused will remain welcome in the community. If they respond defensively, throwing out accusations of the accuser being “crazy” or “vindictive” or something similar, then they’re out, I’d say. They’re derailing the conversation instead of speaking to events.
If they say things like “I’d never do such a thing,” they’re still derailing the conversation and not speaking to events.
If they acknowledge that the victim has obviously been traumatized and seriously respond to the accusation by addressing events, if they are willing to make amends and do what is necessary to help the victim heal and feel safe, then you’re dealing with someone who has integrity. If the accused does this in front of his community, he will see the true power of responsibility and be more respected than ever. The victim will feel heard and validated and believed, which will facilitate her healing. The community will be stronger because of it as well.
You’ll see from these screen shots the common community response to an accusation or even insinuation, as in this case, of sexualized violence. This is what we mean to change. No need to condemn him, but question him.
From Meet the Predators:
If we refuse to listen, he can continue to pretend that the rapist is some guy in the parking lot late at night, when it’s actually him, in our friends’ bedrooms half an hour after last call. If we let that happen, we’re part of the problem.
The rapists can’t be your friends, and if you are loyal to them even when faced with the evidence of what they do, you are complicit.
Want to stop rape and sexual assault in our communities?
Change the culture. To rape again and again, these men need silence. They need to know that the right combination of factors — alcohol and sex shame, mostly — will keep their victims quiet. Otherwise, they would be identified earlier and have a harder time finding victims. The women in your life need to be able to talk frankly about sexual assault. They need to be able to tell you, and they need to know that they can tell you, and not be stonewalled, denied, blamed or judged. (Meet the Predators)
Here is what we vow: Question the accused. Believe the victim.
***After a lengthy discussion with the supposed accused on FB, I see that I was in error to claim he knew someone, somewhere was traumatized. In the above screenshot, he was referring to the author of Silver Goggles and how she had called him out before for something or another. He wouldn’t give me a link to it. That’s what he claims, so it must be true.
This is how he ended our conversation on FB. Oh, by the way, he kept going on and on about power, which is what he’s taking away from me in this quote:
“and now… I’m taking away yours… good bye. I have a life to lead that does not involve trading “Rape Culture” for “Victim Glorification”. Keep Believing the Victims and Victimizing the accused. I will support actual thought and real justice. You are irrelevant.”
****These questions were meant to be sample questions to ask the accused, as they were taken directly from the Accountability page. I can see how if you were to ask them regardless of the answer they appear leading, and that wasn’t my intention. Start with the first question, depending on the answer and what you know about the accusation, form a second question. And so on.
Apologies for the confusion.
Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.
Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com