Writing this was strange, and a bit hard; part of me is surprised by that, I’ve seen my fair bit of violence, and get faced with it through work as well on a regular basis. Someone who is very close to me, and dear to me was raped, and it took me a while to even express my support to her. Part of me just couldn’t figure out what to say, while I thought I had enough experience with expressing support in such cases it has been a while since something touched me this close.
Black lesbian in Southern Africa raped. I’ve heard such words too often, and at some point part of me stopped feeling, well anything really. Trans person killed, gay man beaten up, the reality that we live in a violent world, and that at certain intersections of class, race, and sexuality safety barely exists, just becomes mind numbing. At times there is a sigh of relief that at least to some extent (due to not being Black and my more comfortable life in the suburbs at this point) my privilege shields me from some of it. But the reality of such violence strikes often, though in recent years not so close to my heart as now.
So here is where my head just works weird… When it comes to violence I care and am committed through my work to try and create at least some change; but in many ways it has turned into a job, where I find it best to let stories of violence not get to me too much, out of fear for it getting… well, too much. When it comes to my personal life, the idea that I might face (some) violence and discrimination at some point is quite settled in; I’ve dealt with it before, and will deal with it again, and just am a bit numb about it. But, it happening to someone this close to me… it all just hit way too hard, somehow.
As I see posting online her efforts in reporting this to the police, going to the hospital, and the shit she gets at every point, I am reminded of the fact that in all my years I never once went to report violence I faced… and never had the strength she displays. It reminds me that, despite all my commitments to social change, on a personal level I mostly prefer to ignore and move on when things happen to myself. I admire her, and her courage; I admire that she can do what I never could: to face the accusations, stigma, and bullshit when reporting violence of this kind.
And I think of the others who face the same, and take up such courage… And I realise that I live in a world full of heroines, and hope I can learn to be the same…