TRIGGER WARNING: Mentions of Sexual Assault and Abuse. Transphobia, Victim blaming.
These are all my own experiences as a Survivor of physical & sexual abuse.
Holidays are rarely good for me. Where other folk spend time with their families, I am left with solely bad memories of the people I grew up with. Long before the rise of Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists, there has been a strong belief that women cannot be sexually abusive to others. Women are seen as carers, nurturers, Victims, not perpetrators – if they are “bad” then it’s only ever as emotionally or financially abusive, never physically or sexually abusive. People who readily believe me when I speak of the men in my old family, and how they hurt me, rarely believe me when I say similar things about my sister and her female friend or my mum. Once I ran away from my old family, I’ve been pretty open about my experiences, but this refusal to even acknowledge women can be abusive, is incredibly painful and stops me sometimes from seeking help or sharing my experiences. Acknowledging women can be sexually abusive isn’t a way to put women down or pass the blame: it’s a way of believing survivors and what they say when they talk about painful things.
Something I read on Twitter recently made me despair: “Women can’t rape, because women don’t have dicks!”*** And other tweets along the lines of trans women are really men, hell bent on sexually abusing women and girls. The fact that these kind of statements often come from other women, is the icing on the cake of wretchedness.
1: Men don’t have to pretend to be anything or anyone else in order to sexually abuse others; they will just do it if they want to.
2: Perpetrators of sexual abuse don’t need to have a dick, when they have fingers, bottles, handles of hairbrushes or anything else insertable.
3: Trans women are women. Some are abusive, and some are not, just like any type of human.
Transphobia only adds to the silencing and dismissal of survivors of sexual abuse, but this problem was there long before the addition of trans folk to the argument. I’ve been called a liar for saying anyone in my family could be abusive, because “That doesn’t happen to black kids**”. There is such a desperate push to mantain the narrative of abusers solely being men, that it railroads over the experiences that take such bravery to talk about in the first place. I wish my mum and my sisters had not sexually assaulted*** me, but they did. i wish I wasn’t forced to run away from my old family and everyone I knew, but I did. and 26 years later, I wish I didn’t have to deal with people who deny and dismiss the things that almost cost me my life. But I still have to.
** I gave this horrible quote as the title to my first zine, on surviving child abuse. https://writteninshadows.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/surviving-csa-zine.pdf
*** In the UK, non-consensual sex between women is defined as sexual assault, not rape. Other countries have different definitions, so please don’t generalise or use this as a way to derail survivors. Whatever it is called, it’s still a terrible thing.
A link to a few UK specific resources for survivors of all genders https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/rsa/rape-and-sexual-assault/support-for-victims-of-rape-and-sexual-assault/