womyn of colour

5 Things From One Survivor To Others

Fam, to those of you out there who are survivors I am speaking only to you. As a survivor of rape and years of sexual assault in my home, I negotiate daily as well as in all of my relationships the effect these experiences have had on my body. I have had to negotiate my desire, expressing desire, receiving both wanted and unwanted desire. I have worried if these things have made me dirty, or unlovable. I have worked hard to be a 'good girl' with few sexual partners with hopes that somehow neutralizes the violation of my body. 

And as I connect with more folks who want to decolonize, and deconstruct shame and liberate us, I have learned new and important things that have been integral to my healing that I thought I might share:

1. It's okay if you want to be sexy. Sometimes the people who abused us might have said that we 'made them do it'. It isn't true, there are many different ways to respond to something that is sexy. I am sure you have many different ones. Your sexy is not the problem. The problem is that capitalism and sexism commodify our bodies and people are taught to derive power from desecrating us. 

2. It is ok if you enjoy 'rape fantasies', power play, S & M. It is okay if you enjoy even re-enacting your experience. You may find it feels liberating to have control over a situation that you didn't have control over. It might feel like going back in time and getting to have a 'do-over'. If you don't like or enjoy this or this feel scary, that is okay too. You deserve the sex that makes you feel affirmed. There is violence, and pain in sex that can be healthy if you consent to it. Violence isn't the problem, consent is. You are not dirty or bad if you like violence in your sex.

3. Racism, Ablesim, Transphobia, Classism - Some/all/other/none of these things may have been a part of your experience and your healing. There is a hierarchy that is applied in 'victimhood' (you may not identify with this term, that is okay too). Male or masculine of centre folks' experience can be met with disbelief, sex workers, Folks of Colour. These things can also affect the kind of help, support and responses you get from other people. Trust your gut and trust your struggle, if something someone says feels icky, go with it and remove yourself from that space physically, mentally, emotionally - disassociate if you have to. Disassociation can be a powerful tool that you have to take care of yourself.

4. This is real. It effects you, it doesn't define you, but it means things and it evokes feelings, strategies and responses which are all your bodies way of taking care of itself. That is really great. You don't have to force yourselves to watch movies with rape scenes, or cuddle if you don't want to, or hug a new friend or an old friend. It's okay to feel sad and get depressed about it cause it is hard and we often have to carry it by ourselves and never get to talk about it and the whole world just keeps going and expects us to do the same. That is fucked up and we didn't choose that. 

5. You are precious beyond measure.

Who Are You Calling A Slut?!: Speaking At Slutwalk 2012

What is distinct is that we as womyn of colour and First Nations Womyn face the experience of having a negative meaning assigned to being female and to being of colour or of being First Nations (which is different because this is also profoundly related to land).


These experiences are further complicated by ability, class, status (as well as other social locations). Differently abled womyn have an additional layer of dehumanization, which often cloaks their experience of sexual violence at the hands of caregivers and the medical industrial complex. As well ideas like ‘freedom and self-determination’ too are privileges when you are not able to even dress yourself and subject to the decisions of others, as is the experience of some differently abled womyn. Non-status womyn and incarcerated womyn are provided no recourse in cases of violence and are faced with threat of deportation and/or continued violence. And cash poor womyn and girls voices are consistently devalued and silenced and cannot afford the ‘luxury’ of time to heal so are often forced to continue their labour post, as well as during sexual violence and harassment.

 

We must continually recognize that there is privilege and complexity that comes from claiming the word ‘slut’, ‘dressing like a slut’, knowing that for the vast majority of those womyn who are victimized through rape, sexual harassment, sexual violence and state sanctioned violence that this is impossible.

 

And as a cis womyn, with Canadian citizenship, English speaking whose femme ness is expressed in short skirts, tight dresses, glitter and push up bras; and can afford to do so due to relatively stable self- employment and a community of support, I too must recognize my privilege.