survivor

Twitter Death Threats are Tasteful and Decent

Kill all men. 3 words that erased all the times I was raped, sexually assaulted and beaten by men. These 3 words justify the death threats against me. In saying these words, I have confirmed that I am just as bad as the entitled men and any report I make of abusive behaviour against me is invalid.

I have just finished speaking to the police who called to update me with regards numerous threats to kill and the reams of racist abuse I have been subjected to on Twitter. They advised that Twitter, being based in California refuse to provide British law enforcement officers with any information even in cases where there are threats to kill because their laws around taste and decency differ from ours. Apparently they only concede for serious crimes like murder (not threats to murder).

I want to know how the Metropolitan police were able to investigate the abuse aimed at Twitter activist Caroline Criado Perez (and Stella Creasy) and were able to convince Twitter that the words used to threaten her did breach taste and decency standards even though she is also in the UK (like me). I asked the officer who called me (from West Midlands Police) why this disparity between activists on Twitter when we’re all women receiving death threats and whether she could blame me for thinking it is rooted in structural racism? She maintained that she was just passing on the message from their techie guy and it had nothing to do with race, more that Twitter was refusing to comply. She was also confused because they said it was about protecting their users from opponents of free speech and that surely this protection should be extended to me too, also one of their users.

Why would it though? The internet is awash with rapists and their apologists, misogynists who fantasise about murdering and humiliating women (and probably do in their relationships) and the overall response has been amusing for them. Social networking sites like Facebook will delete an image of a woman breastfeeding a hungry baby because it breaches standards of taste and decency (and sets them apart as somehow enlightened – Darwin award please – among the mammals) yet raging racists like Britain First get a free pass. Murdering entitled scum from the states get a shrine devoted to worshiping male power. Twitter hasn’t responded to the two tickets I got from them acknowledging I’d made complaints regarding gendered abuse and DEATH THREATS but why would they?

In a world where 50 women have been murdered by men this year in this country alone, am I really surprised that gendered abuse is still being ignored by the men in power? The kind of world where the reaction to homicide perpetrated because male entitlement is one of praise and in support of male privilege, not condemnation of the kind of society that allows sick individuals like these to thrive. In a society where rape victims are asked what they did to provoke a rapist into raping them, am I surprised that the 3 words I have at my disposal to empower me when I’m feeling weak (but angry still) are considered equally harmful to the sexual abuse I have been subjected to my whole life (the experiences I have on twitter being an extension to a collage my brain has collated over the years)?

Of course I’m not. This doesn’t change the physiological effects of silencing and legitimisation of abuse has on me. I had a panic attack and had to cut the call short. This was after I explained that I would not be deleting my online profiles because I will not let them succeed in their campaigns to silence me. I won’t let them have the satisfaction and to insist I am complicit in abuse against me if I do not is victim blaming, nothing more or less. It’s not like I have a choice, I do the things I do so that the world is a safer place, one that I can be a part of. Unfortunately this whole incident has served to remind me that I can’t expect this and that attempts to change the status quo will be met with reinforcements from the oppressors.

I’ve advised the police I would like for this complaint to be escalated to their superiors and to find out how it was possible that 2 people were sent to prison for similar offences against a blonde woman.

I’ll let you know how that goes.

The patriarchal media and its victims

It’s hard being a victim. The very word implies submission to a violent or aggressive act, one in which we were overpowered and controlled. It makes us feel helpless and vulnerable. Being a victim or coming across as one leaves us open to further victimisation. And so we prefer to say we are survivors. We were able to overcome the horrific circumstances that threatened to shut us down and because we have survived we deserve praise for our resilience and ability to rise up. To do this, we need recognition. Firstly to recognise for ourselves that we fought hard and that it wasn’t our fault. Our clothing is not to blame, nor our looks or the time of day. Secondly, that our supporters believe us and in doing so protect us from further harm, defining the line for what is acceptable, ensuring that we do not begin to believe the lies our media and politicians spin in order to control our movements and associations.

A sex scandal is what happens when a supposedly happily married media ‘personality’ cheats on their long suffering, eternally loyal partner. Why it is any of our business, I won’t pretend to understand but for the sake of a comparison, that is how it reads to me (and I hope for most people). My aversion to the phrase aside, I strongly object to those words being used to describe CHILD ABUSE/STATUTORY RAPE (where patriarchy calls the underage victim willing and ‘older than their years’). In one article exposing the child abuse/sexual violence perpetrated by the voice of Elmo (yes, really), he is described as having ‘sexual relationships’ with underage ‘accusers’. Minors cannot consent to ‘sexual relationships’.

NON CONSENSUAL SEX IS RAPE.

(You can read the article here http://huff.to/WMoubA)

The writer of this article calls it underage sex and suggests the voice of Elmo continues to experience ‘misfortune’ as a result of the allegations. Hey Elmo, it really is bad luck that you’ve been caught abusing children. Maybe if we tarnish your young victims with the sort of language that implies something sexual happened but they’re only making it known now cos they want to see you go down, you’ll be spared a proper punishment and the victims will be ridiculed instead.

What do Berlusconi, Dominique Strauss Kahn, Jimmy Savile and Elmo have in common? They have raped and abused and violated women and children without their consent. In the British press, they are all allegedly involved in ‘sex scandals’. There are numerous attempts on behalf of the patriarchal press and media to silence the victims by giving a platform to the perpetrators (‘I’m not an abuser and that’s the end of that. Now give me money’) and using language to convince you of their innocence. Victims do not want to be associated with a sex scandal. It is sordid and implies they were actively involved in some way. By implicating the victims and suggesting that they are in some way to blame, patriarchy ensures that survivors remain victimised. It creates a barrier for other victims to speak out too. It normalises abuse by rebranding it as just sex and the ‘accusers’ as jilted lovers or scroungers after their 15 minutes. Just like the many women who believe partners have more rights to their bodies than they themselves do (wish I’d been there when patriarchy invented this one) even when she doesn’t feel like it, the message we are consistently given is that there are levels of rape and your rape isn’t even rape rape. In fact rape rape is extremely rare so in this way patriarchy has convinced you that sexual violence against women just isn’t even a thing (what rape culture?).

This is one of many examples I could give regarding the way news is reported in a patriarchal system and how it influences society’s attitudes to victims of gender related crime. In as many weeks, 2 perpetrators of domestic homicide murdered their wives before committing suicide. Neither case was reported to involve domestic abuse. There was an emphasis on the behaviour of the murdered woman in the run up to the incident, perhaps she liked a drink and was ‘bubbly’ (read overly friendly/in your face). There were no indications as to the behaviour of the perpetrator except maybe he’d had a spell of depression (sympathy please) and don’t forget what an amazing personality/leader/sportsman he was and what a loss this will be to the world. The language used attempts to invoke sympathy for the abuser; it paints a tragedy not a brutal murder.

It is powerful and influential and they know this.

..Don’t even get me started on child ‘porn’.

How To Support A Survivor Of Domestic Abuse

When 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives, we all need to be prepared to deal with the fact that it might happen to someone we love. If you suddenly found out that your sister was being abused by her loving, doting husband, how would you react?

DON’T SAY: I can’t believe he would do something like that, what did you do? Why would he hurt you?

Perpetrators of domestic abuse are often charming and sociable characters. They know how to manipulate people into thinking they are calm and reasonable. Your sister will not have seen this side to him; he was hardly going to begin the relationship in his true colours. Asking her what she did and why the abuse took place is justifying the act. There are no excuses for physical and emotional abuse. I have had people argue that “she deserved a slap” for her behaviour. Or “she made me do it”. Nobody makes an abuser do or feel anything; they allow themselves to feel a certain way because it is never their fault, somehow they are always the wronged party. However she might behave, the decent thing for him to do is walk away.

DO: Offer to listen, without judgement or advice. However much you may want to protect your friend/family member, you cannot start telling them what to do. Chances are she is trying to leave a controlling situation, the last thing she will want is more orders. Instead, calmly offer your shoulder and listen. This might be the first time she has disclosed anything so you want to remain calm and in control. If you break down, she might feel she is burdening you. If she does ask for your help, you can call the National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247 where they can advise you on how to plan around safety and advise on the steps she will need to take should she need to flee.

Remember: It has taken a lot of courage to break her silence. Confidentiality is key. You are there to buoy her spirits and offer reassurance that she is not alone. She might want an immediate solution, then again she might not. Relationships are complicated and there are bonds that run deep. He might be her abuser but he could also be her first love, the father of her children. She might just want him to seek help. You are not there to judge but to make life more bearable.

I have been approached once or twice by women who are dear to me. In these situations, I knew their partners, we all socialised together. Holding it together for them, kissing their abuser on the cheek when meeting, is difficult and requires strength and diplomacy. You can never lose sight of the trust your friend/family member has placed in you by confiding. Should they see past the façade, the consequences for your loved one could be devastating. Also, although you are trying to save the day here, don’t be a hero, you do not want to make yourself a target.

If you do find yourself involved in a situation where harm is imminent and your loved one needs to escape urgently, get together some essentials. Toiletries, passport, a change of clothes. Children’s favourite toys. Refuges are furnished and if she is not able to get away with more than what she is wearing, some refuges can make arrangements for provision and may also be able to enlist the help of the local police should she need to return to the property for the rest of her belongings. Ensure this is all done in a safe manner, if it is not possible then simply leave to another day.

As I have previously mentioned, the National Domestic Violence Helpline can help with queries. I am also here should you need additional support.

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