It can seem silly, having a need for a personal and safe space on the internet. The internet is a vast, non-tangible or physical “place,” so how can it contribute to empowerment or survival?
The answer is simple: for those us who either fight against or have survived violence, oppression, and navigate a world where our experiences are sometimes belittled, ridiculed, and made the punchline of joke, a safe space that is conducive to empowerment and/or expression is sorely needed.
When someone survives sexual violence, it is not just their bodies that have been hurt. It is emotional, mental, social, and everything else that makes a person who they are. It can be ostracizing and dehumanizing and often we are re-victimized (sometimes unintentionally) by our family, friends, peers, members of the criminal justice systems, and sometimes activists who have their best interests at heart.
A space, even a virtual one, is essential for healing and empowerment. We all unfortunately live in a world where sexual violence is rarely and arbitrarily punished, where survivors are forced to “prove” their believability, where victim-blaming can be expected and sympathy can be given to those who have chosen to commit acts of violence. These acts have the effects of making formerly “safe” spaces and public spaces feel threatening, like we are outsiders and a right has been taken.
And it is true.
Reclaiming a space is an act of radicalism in a system and social world that attempts to silence survivors, their families and friends, while creating apologist ideals that enable or make invisible rape culture.
This space is not always guaranteed to be “Safe” but it can be guaranteed that it will be reflexive, open, honest, and ready to combat rape culture and myths that are pervasive in this world. It will not fully heal, and definitely is not a solution to sexual violence but it is a stand.
This is our space. To educate, to feel, and to express. Ideally, one day this space will no longer exist because sexual violence will be an old relic, one that is looked upon with disgust and used as an example on how to not treat people. Unfortunately this is not yet a reality.
Until we anti-violence advocates and community members are successful in this mission, we will continue to fight against oppressions, marginalization’s, and disempowerments of survivors until every person is guaranteed the basic right to live lives free from the threat of sexual violence. One step towards this future is this blog—a space we hope all survivors, their allies, and community members can enjoy and consider their own.