Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Blog to raise awareness about sexual violence

Some topics seem too big to blog about, particularly when I haven’t any personal experience of them. But lelyons comment “I would be happy to see anything that isn’t silence” has given me the push to participate. After all it’s true - silence is a real problem. I have been lucky enough never to have experienced sexual violence, but it is something that I have been aware of for as long as I can remember. This awareness hasn’t arisen from open discussion or education, it hasn’t been raised through media attention, instead it comes from unspoken looks, whispered comments, and passive acceptance.

In my first term at middle school I was in a different class from the girls I had been friends with at first school. We all made new friends, and formed one big group at break time. One day one of the girls from the other class wasn’t there. I had only spoken to her a few times and no one discussed where she had gone. The silence was opaque. It was obvious something was wrong but no one was going to talk about it. It turned out she and her mother had left the area following years of systematic rape by the father. This stands out in my memory both because I was ten at the time and this was the first moment that I realised these acts of violence can happen to people you know, and also because it was broached only through whispers.

Since that day the silence began to seem almost normal. A friend stood up to her dad, and nobody at school asked her where the bruises had come from. Somehow people just know, and they don’t say anything. We live in a world where sexual violence isn’t a problem - not because it doesn’t happen but because it isn’t mentioned. So I refuse to add to the layers of silence that already exist, and I will not excuse myself simply because the problem is too big. Sexual violence is devastating on a personal scale and catastrophic on a global scale – it needs to end and so does the silence that surrounds it.

Check out these links for some statistics:
And http://www.victimsupport.org for free, confidential support – no one need know you have been in touch and you don’t need to report the crime.


At 7:39 pm, Blogger TP said...

Great post on this.

I've always found schools to be the breeding ground for the worst racism/homophobia/sexual violence/enforced and voluntary scilence and conditioning in society. Partly through rules, partly through peers. It's so terrible, children have to learn, and it is good to socialise, but I would always be saddened to send children to school for these reasons and for the crushing effect it has on individuality.


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