Silent no longer: confronting sexual violence in the left - Rebecca Winter

Image by Suzy X

Excellent article arguing for and suggesting practical ways anarchist individuals, organisations and spaces can help support survivors of sexual violence. Trigger warning for mention of sexual violence.

In 2012, a member of the UK Socialist Workers Party (SWP) came forward saying she had been raped and sexually harassed by the former National Secretary of the organisation, Martin Smith. The internal ‘investigation’ which followed demonstrated a number of common ways in which sexual violence is ignored and those who experience it are demonised. Some of the members of the Disputes Committee chosen to investigate the claim were close friends of Smith. The woman who had come forward was questioned about her sexual history and alcohol use. She was made to feel that members of the Disputes Committee thought she was “a slut who asked for it”. The Disputes Committee concluded that the accusation that Smith had raped and harassed her was “not proven.” Four members of the SWP who discussed their misgivings about the Committee’s decision on Facebook were expelled from the group. The woman who had accused Smith was not allowed to attend the SWP’s conference to contest the Disputes Committee’s decision. The SWP’s response to this case resulted in hundreds of members resigning. Meanwhile, Solidarity (an Australian affiliate of the SWP) labelled the SWP’s investigation of the rape claim “scrupulously fair”.

While there was a significant outcry amongst people in left-wing circles about the way members of the SWP responded to sexual violence within their group, there was little reflection on the fact that many other left-wing organisations respond in a similarly toxic way. The lack of internal democracy within the SWP certainly hindered the efforts of those seeking change within the organisation, but informal social processes influenced by misogynist ideas about sexual violence can be just as destructive to the lives of sexual violence survivors.

Gendered violence is a key way in which women’s oppression is maintained in our patriarchal society. In Australia, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men over the age of 15 have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15 years (1). Violence perpetrated by men is the leading cause of preventable death, disability and illness in women aged 15-44 (2). Aboriginal women, poor women, women of differing abilities, and sex and gender diverse people are significantly more likely to experience sexual violence.

All too often, survivors of sexual violence are greeted with disbelief, anger, and defensiveness when they should be believed and supported. This happens in left-wing groups, our social movements, our friendship circles, our workplaces, and countless other places in society. While most left-wing groups and movements share a stated opposition to sexism, this does not make them immune to the misogynist assumptions which underlie victim blaming and which often come up when people are confronted by sexual violence committed by their friends or political comrades.

I was raped by someone who was involved in the Melbourne anarchist milieu in 2010. It was a horrible, frightening experience, made worse by the fact that it was someone who I had trusted as a friend and a political comrade. I was lucky, though. The friends, family members and people in the anarchist milieu I told about my experience believed me and the person who assaulted me is no longer welcome in many of Melbourne’s political spaces. I know too many people who have had similar experiences, but who have been called liars, ignored, lost friends and comrades, or been forced to remain silent. I can’t imagine how much harder it is for people who’ve survived sexual violence, and then been treated like this by those they thought they could trust, to keep on going.

When someone tells their friends or political comrades that they have experienced sexual violence, there are a number of common responses. Sometimes survivors who come forward are completely ignored. People who know the person who perpetrated sexual violence will say that they ‘don’t want to take sides’ and want to remain ‘neutral.’ Survivors are told that confronting a perpetrator of sexual violence will cause division in the movement or organisation. The personalities, political beliefs, lifestyles and appearance of survivors of sexual violence are scrutinised in minute detail. Survivors of sexual violence are called ‘crazy’ or seen as too emotional. If a survivor speaks out about violence they will often be presented as vindictively trying to wreck a perpetrator’s reputation. Perpetrators are frequently defended as being a ‘good person’ or a ‘good organiser’, as though this should excuse their violence. People attempt to justify their inaction by saying that they don’t want to act based on ‘rumours’ and that we should presume that a person accused of perpetrating sexual violence is ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ Some activists tell survivors not to go to the police, because of their role in supporting state oppression, but all too often provide no alternative forms of support.

These attitudes are used to justify a status quo within the left and within broader society in which the interests of those who perpetrate sexual violence are prioritised over those who are survivors of sexual violence. Part of the problem with many responses to sexual violence is that we have absorbed various legalistic ideas from state criminal ‘justice’ systems which are sexist and are used to justify legal inaction. For instance, the idea that we shouldn’t rush to judge a person accused of committing violence and should instead presume that they are innocent. This flawed idea is used by many to argue that we should not take the word of survivors when they tell us they have experienced sexual violence. However, as Lisbeth Latham comments in a recent piece on the SWP, “If we think of the refrain ‘people accused of rape are innocent until proven guilty’ then the opposing logic also at play is that those marking allegations of rape ‘are guilty of lying about the allegation until proven innocent.’ Defendants and their supporters (both legal and extra-legal) focus their energy not on proving innocence, but on undermining the credibility of the survivor.” We need to reject the state’s narrative about how we should deal with accusations of sexual violence.

It is crucially important for us to point out that when we perpetuate these ideas about sexual violence we are making a political choice which has disastrous consequences for survivors of sexual violence. We know that false accusations of sexual violence are incredibly rare. We know that forcing survivors to jump through endless hoops by demanding they provide ‘proof’ before we listen to and believe them is incredibly harmful and makes it extremely difficult or them to speak out about sexual violence. We know that our continual inaction allows perpetrators to continue abusing people within our communities with impunity. And we know that how we respond to sexual violence currently is killing our political organisations and movements, and frustrating their capacity to challenge sexism, racism, capitalism, and other forms of oppression and exploitation.

So, here’s what I think needs to happen: We need to make a political choice to believe survivors of violence. We need to bring gendered violence out into the open by treating survivors with trust and compassion, rather than hostility. We need to take people at their word when they tell us that they have experienced violence, including gendered and sexual violence, without requiring them to tell us about every little detail of what happened. And more than this, we need to make a choice to prioritise survivors in our political work. This means that we should have survivor-centred responses to sexual violence – where the needs and desires of survivors determine our response. We need to be open to excluding people responsible for sexual violence, at the discretion of the survivor, from our political spaces, or ganisations, and movements. And we need to be prepared to support survivors in engaging with the people who harmed them through accountability processes, if that is what they’d like to do. Most of all, though, we need to make it a political priority to actively support sexual violence survivors through all of the personal and political challenges that come in the aftermath of being assaulted.

Asking a perpetrator to leave an organisation or political space on the word of a survivor is often a point which divides people within the left. We have to remember that people are not entitled to be involved in our political spaces. Many of us would accept the need to reject an active Liberal Party member who wanted to join a radical political group based on their oppressive ideology. We need to be open to taking the same approach to those whose actions are a form of violent oppression. In my experience, knowing that I am unlikely to run into the person who raped me at a political space has made a world of difference to my ongoing recovery, especially in environments where I know I would be supported by those around me if I did see him. Asking someone to leave our spaces does not deny them their freedom or safety. But if we refuse to ask perpetrators to leave our spaces we are effectively risking the safety of survivors and forcing many survivors to self-exclude. Moreover, as women are a significant majority of sexual violence survivors, not dealing with sexual violence has the effect of reinforcing women’s oppression in our movements.

Gendered violence does not occur in a social vacuum – any response we make within our organisations and movements will be limited in scope. We will never be truly safe or free from violence while we live in a society fundamentally shaped by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Excluding perpetrators from our spaces can enable survivors to feel relatively safe in our movements, but it doesn’t prevent sexual violence from being committed in the first place or in other areas of society. To create a society in which sexual violence is no longer a tool of misogynist and racist oppression we need structural systemic change – in short, a revolution.

An essential part of fighting rape culture involves identifying these structural systems of oppression and exploitation which allow people to perpetrate sexual violence with impunity. We need to fight the dominant ideologies which suggest that some people deserve to be victims of violence, and bear responsibility for the harm that is done to them – whether because of their clothes, race, gender identity; or because they are a refugee, poor, in prison, or a sex worker. Yet it is not enough to merely struggle against sexism and sexual violence at a structural or ideological level. If we are ever going to build the collective power required to challenge these systems of oppression we must make a committed effort to challenge violence and other actions which reinforce oppression within our political organisations, our social movements, our friendship groups and all other areas of life.

Why would anyone believe talk of a post-revolutionary society without sexism if we cannot support survivors of sexual violence in our midst and take a stand against those who perpetrate gendered violence among us?

There are tentative signs of a growing movement against sexual violence on the left. In 2004, three women were raped at a large punk festival in Philadelphia in the US. The concert organisers established two collectives to support the survivors and hold the rapists to account. The collectives became Philly’s Pissed and Philly Stands Up which continued this work for a period of six years. Organisers of the 2012 Toronto and New York Anarchist bookfairs asked people who had been accused of sexual violence, and who were not actively engaging in some sort of accountability process, to not attend the events. Closer to home, groups like A World Without Sexual Assault and Stepping Up in Melbourne have provided support to survivors, facilitated accountability processes, and run awareness-raising workshops.

We need to continue to build on these political gains in our organising in Melbourne. One new project that that I am excited about aims to bring together collective wisdom about how organisations can respond to sexual violence in a way which genuinely supports survivors. This website resource will also gather together ideas about how tools like grievance collectives can be used to confront other oppressive behaviour, such as racist or sexist conduct. We will be inviting anarchist, socialist, social justice, environmental and other activist groups to commit to acting in accordance with this advice. As part of this commitment, groups will need to run workshops where their members can discuss practical ways they can avoid perpetuating destructive responses to sexual violence and avoid reinforcing systemic oppression. (If you’re interested in getting involved in this project, contact Anarchist Affinity and we’ll pass your details on to the organising collective).

Conclusion

For too long sexual violence survivors have been sacrificed at the altar of ‘movement building.’ This approach has a massively destructive impact on survivors, but it also prevents us from creating the kind of movements that we need. We must create social movements which build the revolutionary collective power of the working classes to confront all systems of oppression and exploitation. But to do this we need to start practicing what we preach. We need to challenge misogynist attitudes about sexual violence within our midst and create enduring structures which allow us to support survivors and hold perpetrators to account. Only then can we genuinely claim to be fighting for anarchism and social justice.

Resources

‘What is rape apologism?’

Em BC, ‘Misogyny and the left – we need to start practicing what we preach’

‘Betrayal – a critical analysis of rape culture in anarchist subcultures’

Endnotes

(1) Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey, 2006.

(2) VicHealth (2004) ‘The Health Costs of Violence: Measuring the burden of disease caused by intimate partner violence.’

From http://www.anarchistaffinity.org/2014/03/silent-no-longer-confronting-sexual-violence-in-the-left/ Image by Suzy X

Posted By

Steven.
Mar 18 2014 11:47

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the croydonian ...
Mar 18 2014 18:03

I have to say I am quite torn about this. I had a discussion with some one about this article before having read it. They told me that basically the article said that the notion of "innocent until proven guilty" is inherently sexist which they massively disagreed with. I immediately countered that it was more about what you would rather operate under the assumption of and the relative benefits/detriment to both (i.e seeing as false rape claims are the minority id rather act on the assumption that the accused is guilty rather than innocent to support the victim, which might have a small sacrifice of genuine false claims going un detected rather than assuming the accuser is lying by default which sustains rape culture and makes their lives hell). I thought I was sure of this but as my friend continued to argue his point I did find myself sympathizing. I don't think the principle of 'innocent till proven guilty' is inherently sexist idea and I don't think it should be dismissed purely because it comes from a liberal legalistic framework. I think the principle is actually fairly good and should be stuck to, and maybe even that is inherently neutral. But then as I countered in this conversation, that it's execution and result, especially in rape cases, is anything but neutral and automatically takes the side of the accused, of the oppressor, of patriarchy, of rape culture, etc. Is it possible/right to apply innocent till proven guilty in some cases and not others (rape cases)? Where does that leave us?

A Wotsit
Mar 19 2014 01:45

Thought this was good article about very important issue. I don't feel torn about it (but see why Croy did). I'm going to give this article a second read when I'm better rested and would welcome more discussion of (and of course action on) this issue of how we stop sexual violence and provide a better environment for survivors to be supported.

I thought this quote was key:

Quote:
If we think of the refrain ‘people accused of rape are innocent until proven guilty’ then the opposing logic also at play is that those marking allegations of rape ‘are guilty of lying about the allegation until proven innocent.’ Defendants and their supporters (both legal and extra-legal) focus their energy not on proving innocence, but on undermining the credibility of the survivor.

I think that is pretty clear-cut. In these cases it should always be 'the survivor is to be believed' (edit: actually, less ambiguous: 'telling the truth').

I also think the points made about excluding anyone who is accused (and almost certainly guilty of) sexual violence from spaces where they might pose a risk to others or cause distress to survivors was well made. In the extremely rare cases where someone might be falsely accused, well, that's just too bad (not trying to downplay how bad a false accusation would be but) the alternative of enabling/ failing to prevent further violence or trauma is just far worse.

Based on what friends have told me (knowing I am the kind of person who will believe them, even when they would not tell many others, even an 'impartial' researcher gathering statistical data) I would be amazed if the statistics of how many women are survivors of sexual violence are not massively lower than the reality (nor would I be surprised to learn I know more survivors than have felt able to tell me- not to give the impression that I ask or fish for this sort of info). I believe false accusations are so rare that we shouldn't let fear of action against innocent men muddy our thinking on how we best support survivors.

There is another point I want to make on the 'innocent until proven guilty' thing on how most crimes where guilt needs to be proven with defence, cross-examination, evidence etc. These are often crimes for economic gain or even necessity- crimes communists should attribute to people acting under capitalist logic, or to people made desperate by capitalist relations. Some of these crimes are committed by vulnerable, desperate, dispossessed, people (not saying much class-on-class crimes such as mugging, burglary, 'bad' drug dealing etc don't cause harm & distress to members of our class). These crimes seem to be qualitatively different from sexual violence somehow (due to an economic relationship, rather than one of patriarchy). If you remove the baggage and assumptions of legalism/ state law I don't think 'innocent until proven' stacks up to much. I can't make that point in a way I'm happy with, and think it's secondary to the much more important issues discussed in the article.

edit: just to add, I find the sort of arguments characterised in the image and ones in the article like 'but he's a good person/ organiser' so utterly ludicrously abhorrent I don't even know where to start with critiquing those. (edited rest of post a bit)

A Wotsit
Mar 19 2014 01:50

One more thing. It is incredibly fucking hard to tell people you have survived sexual violence whatever you anticipate their reaction to be (especially since some awful reactions are almost inevitable and well-meaning and sympathetic types can also be shit about it- e.g.- go to the police/law they will always help/ you can stop him doing it to someone else whatevs- is just as naive as saying don't go to the police/law they are agents of the state/capital). The fact it is distressing and potentially alienating, traumatic and relationship-straining to come forward as a survivor is one of the many reasons I think false accusations are virtually non-existent (and survivors tell the truth)- why the heck would you want that stress and baggage if it wasn't true- just to get someone else in trouble for malicious reasons- nah, almost never happens.

Finally, just to add, none of the survivors I know went to the police. None of them tell very many people what happened to them. (and as I said I'm sure I know more than have told me too)

Rebecca Winter
Mar 19 2014 23:49

Hi, I'm the author. Thanks Steven for reposting this! It's exciting to see these issues getting discussed more! And thanks for the responses.

Re: Innocent until proven guilty. I don't think it's an inherently sexist idea. I think that the way that it's applied in legal systems has a sexist and generally destructive effect on sexual violence survivors and reinforces patriarchy. My point wasn't that we need to reject this principle in all circumstances, but that we need to acknowledge the role it plays in maintaining rape culture in the legal systems of states.

But I think the key question for anarchists/other social justice folks is whether WE should be using this principle to guide the way we respond to sexual violence (and other violence) within our political groups/movements/social circles. And I think we shouldn't. I think that the consequences of not believing survivors or making them jump through hoops to be heard (demanding 'proof') are so disastrous - both for individual survivors and for our political movements - that we have to take a different approach.

An important thing to remember is that the decisions we make in groups/movements are not about whether someone gets locked up. We're deciding who we want to politically associate with. Even if people think that 'innocent until proven guilty' is a useful principle when it comes to decisions about a person's basic freedoms (obviously something that is contentious to start with, given prison abolitionism), this doesn't mean that it's going to be right in the context of our political organising and friendship circles. I think that the principle is a problem at both levels, but I think our political priority right now is to stop people from shaming/disbelieving survivors, so I think it's most important to think about how this principle plays out in our spheres of influence.

Steven.
Mar 20 2014 22:58
Rebecca Winter wrote:
Hi, I'm the author. Thanks Steven for reposting this! It's exciting to see these issues getting discussed more! And thanks for the responses.

no problem, thanks very much for writing it! (I wasn't sure if you with the author or just the person who posted it to the AA website; I will credit you on the article above)

Quote:
An important thing to remember is that the decisions we make in groups/movements are not about whether someone gets locked up. We're deciding who we want to politically associate with. Even if people think that 'innocent until proven guilty' is a useful principle when it comes to decisions about a person's basic freedoms (obviously something that is contentious to start with, given prison abolitionism), this doesn't mean that it's going to be right in the context of our political organising and friendship circles.

I think this is a really key point here.

As the article explains well, the way "innocent until proved guilty" is used today with sexual violence allegations that essentially mean the accuser is "guilty" of making a false allegation unless they can prove otherwise, which is usually impossible. And we're not talking about punishment beatings or locking people up, so the same standards of evidence don't have to apply in the name of "liberty", as no one's liberty is at stake.

leftover
Mar 21 2014 19:57

I'm wondering if you have any response to Margaret Flowers' "Staff Note" that was added to the beginning of this essay at Popular Resistance.

Juan Conatz
Mar 21 2014 20:42
Steven. wrote:
And we're not talking about punishment beatings or locking people up, so the same standards of evidence don't have to apply in the name of "liberty", as no one's liberty is at stake.

It's usually more someone's reputation, but, people have been jumped/beaten in these situations, so I don't think it's accurate to say that's not what we're talking about, because I think this does happen in some radical left responses to sexual assault.

EmC
Mar 22 2014 02:12

So are you trying to suggest that if groups exclude people accused of rape then they are somehow responsible if someone chooses to beat that person up? Do you really think if that was going to happen it wouldn't happen anyway? And why is protecting a possible perpetrator's reputation a higher priority than protecting a survivor's reputation, or her physical safety? 99% of rape allegations are true. So why is protecting one percent of men more important than 99% of survivors?

Juan Conatz
Mar 22 2014 03:55

Nah, I was saying usually in these situations its a reputation that's at stake. I don't think that reputation is more important, I don't think its important at all, certainly not within the context of sexual assault and harassment I was just saying that reputation is usually the stakes here rather than imprisonment or physical retaliation. I also made no value judgement of physical retaliation, I just mentioned that it is sometimes what we're talking about in these situations, and that it does happen and will be in the toolbox of any collective response, I imagine.

Steven.
Mar 22 2014 12:46
Juan Conatz wrote:
Steven. wrote:
And we're not talking about punishment beatings or locking people up, so the same standards of evidence don't have to apply in the name of "liberty", as no one's liberty is at stake.

It's usually more someone's reputation, but, people have been jumped/beaten in these situations, so I don't think it's accurate to say that's not what we're talking about, because I think this does happen in some radical left responses to sexual assault.

yeah, I'm aware of this in a couple of cases, but this above article is not suggesting punishment beatings (nor am I). And my comments above were related to this article.

Fleur
Mar 24 2014 01:16

I really wasn't sure about commenting on this, mostly because all my points have already been made but also because I am well and truly fed up of having the same conversations over and over again but when I saw people were down voting the comments of a survivor on the IWW thread, without even having the courtesy or courage of their convictions to explain what it was they were disagreeing with, then I thought there might be some small merit in speaking up.

Innocent until proved guilty, in relation to rape/sexual assault is not neutral, as other people have pointed out. As soon as a survivor speaks up they are variety of responses, blaming, shaming, disbelief. To assume innocence until guilt has been proven (and how exactly is this proof going to be extracted?) implies, to some degree or another, that the survivor's word cannot be taken as the truth. Given that we know (and we do know that, don't we?) that the number of false allegations are very, very low, surely it should be the default position to to lay the emphasis on supporting the survivor and one of the basic ways of doing that is to try to not further undermine their feeling of safety by allowing the accused to be hanging around in the same spaces. It's not a lot to ask.
Absolutely, some people's reputations are at stake. However, the minute a survivor speaks up, their reputations are destroyed. You can have as many policies and statements in place as you like but anyone who has ever spoken up about sexual violence perpetrated against them have been subject to conjecture, gossip, victim blaming, assumptions of lying etc, especially if the man involved has any redeeming features (oh, he's such a nice guy - he wouldn't do that.) And we all know this, it's the thing which stops us from speaking out in the first place, knowing the kind of shit we're going to take, because we've seen it happen to other people. So, it's completely ludicrous to imagine that there are armies of vindictive women willing to lay down false rape accusations in order to vilify someone we don't like, or to get revenge on an ex etc. We're not stupid, we know the score, if you speak up your life turns to crap.
If any organization wants to have women participating and wants them to stay, they should bear this in mind. I'm genuinely sorry if some men have had their reputations harmed by false allegations but I am also absolutely furious at the vast number of survivors who have had their lives utterly turned upside down by sexual violence and way society reacts to it.
Everybody has a right to know what it is they have been accused of, however the survivor has a right not to have their abuser in their faces, in their spaces.
It seems peculiar to me that when we want to reject just about every aspect of the criminal justice system, the police, the courts, prisons etc, that we would want to hang on to one particular tenet - innocence until proven guilty - when in practice it so discriminates against the survivor.

A Wotsit asked what we can do to stop sexual violence. I have no bloody idea. Bring up the next generation so that they understand the concept of consent as well as their ABCs maybe. Meanwhile what we can do is talk about it. Talk about it until we're fed up of talking about it, like I am, discuss it to the point that there is no ambiguity about having a zero tolerance for sexual harassment or abuse.

And I'll just sit back and wait for the anonymous down votes now.

Shorty
Mar 25 2014 12:40

Great post. I've given you an 'up'.

There's this thread/article too: https://libcom.org/forums/general/crimethinc-accounting-ourselves-breaking-impasse-around-assault-abuse-anarchist-s

As I said there, a big issue is that a lot of the theory and practice we're looking at is coming out of subcultures and "communities" where many of the problems faced by these processes are wrapped up in the problems with such scenes.

I think here on libcom we would be more interested in a discussion related to groups and organisations which are more formally structured, not that these aren't without problems either, as we can see.

Kureigo-San
Mar 24 2014 12:05

Want to say first of all that I'm still digesting the article and the comments above, and that what I'm going to say is basically thinking aloud.

"In the extremely rare cases where someone might be falsely accused, well, that's just too bad (not trying to downplay how bad a false accusation would be but) the alternative of enabling/ failing to prevent further violence or trauma is just far worse."

'Too bad' seems about as cavalier as it gets. I've experienced the consequences of lies, though they weren't lies of sexual assault, but instead lies about how I slapped my ex around. I can say that in my case the consequences of that rolled on for about 4 years, because once I got to college she kind of set her new fella and friend circle on me, and I dealt with the threat of violence weekly despite never actually having done anything to her in the first place. On 2 occasions I had to defend myself physically. I still agree with what you guys are basically saying we have to do, because it appears that we have no choice but to side with the overwhelming odds, but I have to insist that there be some kind of process or even a GESTURE that goes beyond 'too bad', because those 4 years were terrible and have affected my psyche permanently. It is not my own personal fault that other men have actually commited awful acts of violence against women.

A Wotsit
Mar 24 2014 18:05

OK, 'too bad' was the wrong phrase 'an unfortunate consequence to which the alternative is far worse' perhaps is better.

Anyways, I just basically wanted to give mad props to Fleur- my comments do not do this issue justice at all. I just agree fully with Fleurs post and would like to just enthusiastically agree to everything she said. I would retract my entire comment just to parrot hers.

btw- 1st day in my new job (all male team) and I had to speak up against someone saying the recent spate of celebrity 'accusations' were probably false and motivated by women who 'want a payment... why would they wait so long... blah misogyny blah'- to the agreement of every other man in the room. I seriously cannot abide this shit. When I said 'actually, I know people this has happened to' they cut in to ask if I knew men who had a false allegation made against them. I could barely contain my disgust and had to take a deep breath before explaining, that no, actually I know survivors who did not want to speak out publicly precisely because of the bullshit attitudes most men hold. After my careful explanation of why survivors don't report or pursue charges straight away (or often at all), they still said, 'yeah, but I still think most of these allegations are false'. Smash the patriarchy tbh.

Kureigo-San
Mar 24 2014 19:08

I feel so much better now mate.

A Wotsit
Mar 24 2014 20:17

I have honestly (afaik) never met anyone who was falsely accused of something maliciously, as serious as this (domestic violence being closely related to sexual assault, I guess). I genuinely appreciate that would be a horrendous experience and I do see now many flaws in my original posts (this is an emotive subject for me and it affects my ability to post well).

Back to my experience today though, day fucking one of a new job, people are trying extra-hard to be nice to me ("new boy" status) and bonding over shared-misogyny is the way forward on this. Fucking hell. (Max Clifford was on the TV in the mess room which prompted this btw, I am not making this up- rape culture is bloody everywhere).

(edit: sorry v drunk right now- I don't know if this reads way I intended)

EmC
Mar 25 2014 06:03

Kureigo-San, I feel very bad for you or anyone who goes through that. I really do. The thing is that most rape survivors endure that kind of bullying as well, but they also have the trauma of being raped. So every one of those acts of emotional or physical violence also brings back the original trauma. That's why it's very rare for false accusations like the one you've described to occur.

Kureigo-San
Mar 25 2014 10:00

But if the accusations are false then it follows that there was no 'original trauma'..? It's a false accusation, isn't it..? Maybe I'm very very slow this morning but I'm not sure I understand what you said.

Serge Forward
Mar 25 2014 11:18

While false allegations are indeed very rare in terms of criminal complaints made by women to the police, in terms of family break up and disputed access to children, accusations of sexual violence and child abuse are less rare. Talk to any family court solicitor or barrister and they will tell you that such false allegations are now pretty much run of the mill in divorce or access proceedings.

Victims of abuse have to be believed but at the same time, revolutionary/anarchist/communist ideas of justice have to be better than the bourgeois legal system.

the croydonian ...
Mar 25 2014 13:20
A Wotsit wrote:
people are trying extra-hard to be nice to me

Could say the same about the post you made before this to be honest, bending over backwards.

EmC
Mar 25 2014 15:06

Kureigo, what I'm saying is that what happens to rape survivors is much worse than what happens to victims of false accusations. Sorry but this is the truth. And it's why false accusations are incredibly rare.

Serge, ask any MRA and they'll tell you that. Any family court lawyer would not.

Serge Forward
Mar 25 2014 15:26

EmC, that's really not true. No one is talking about claims by so called 'men's rights activists' here, I'm talking about a family court barrister (female) and a solicitor (also female) who said that courts often don't listen to allegations against the former male partner of child abuse because such allegations have virtually become an all too common means of attack in fights over custody/access. In disputes over kids, both sides are equally guilty of dirty tricks, however, naive views of what women do or don't do and implying that anyone who questions such idealised views is an MRA is really unhelpful.

EmC
Mar 25 2014 15:38

Yeah and I so believe you. Lol.

EmC
Mar 25 2014 15:39

Waiting for the down votes btw. I heart it when rape apologists don't like me.

Serge Forward
Mar 25 2014 15:42
EmC wrote:
Yeah and I so believe you. Lol.

Like I say, unhelpful. As I said earlier, revolutionary/anarchist/communist notions of justice needs to be better and fairer than anything the bourgeois legal system stands for.

no1
Mar 25 2014 16:05

Serge, a couple of thoughts about this:
(1) I can think of lots of reasons why accusations of sexual violence/abuse to be unexpectedly common in those situation - sexual violence/child abuse are pretty strong reasons to end a long-term relationship ; that kind of violence may be more common because a perpetrator is trying to dominate their partner when a relationship is falling apart ; sexual violence is generally common anyway people just keep silent about it but in disputes over kids there's obviously a good reason to speak up etc. Their frequency doesn't mean that the allegations are false, regardless of what barristers think. Do you have anything more than anecdotal evidence ?
(2) How is this relevant to what happens in leftist or anarchist organisations?

WordShaker
Mar 25 2014 16:45
EmC wrote:
Kureigo, what I'm saying is that what happens to rape survivors is much worse than what happens to victims of false accusations. Sorry but this is the truth. And it's why false accusations are incredibly rare.

Serge, ask any MRA and they'll tell you that. Any family court lawyer would not.

I don't mean to be confrontational, but I've got no idea why the rarity of men being falsely accused* means that Kureigo's experience should be dismissed out of hand with a "too bad." I fully get that what happens to survivors is worse than what happens to victims of false accusations, though I admit this sends something icky up my spine, like the extreme severity of sexual violence means that those who are falsely accused of committing it should just suck it up, or something. I also get that because the conditions of patriarchal society women who claim (I admit the problems with using the word "claim", but I'm trying to use it in a value-neutral way) to be rape survivors should have the weight and support of the community behind them. That doesn't negate that Kureigo was injured by his experience and I think he's justified in asking that there be something done so that false claims, when and if they do crop up, can be dealt with in a manner that doesn't harm rape survivors nor cast doubt over the great many legitimate claims of sexual violence. I'm sure you know far better than I that this would be a difficult thing to bang out, but leaving it at "too bad" or "I'm sorry" seems to be not enough if we are trying to establish not only effective political organization, but real and better ways of living.

*As something of a side point, I think there needs to be some connections made in between establishing that rape survivors experience extreme trauma and then that false accusations are extremely rare. Both of these things are undoubtedly true, but I feel you need to connect the two airtight in order argue that Kureigo should be okay with just "too bad," if you are arguing that.

Fleur
Mar 25 2014 16:57

Serge:

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false allegations are now pretty much run of the mill in divorce or access proceedings.
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I'm talking about a family court barrister (female) and a solicitor (also female) who said that courts often don't listen to allegations against the former male partner of child abuse because such allegations have virtually become an all too common means of attack in fights over custody/access.

So, apart from this being one of the Seven Pillars of Bullshit which is trotted out by MRAs, what exactly is the mechanism of deciding that these are false allegations? Is it the Gold Standard of innocent until proven guilty, and unless a prosecution is proceeded with and the defendant has been found guilty in a court of law beyond reasonable doubt, then the allegation is therefore de facto false? Might it be worth considering that only a very small percentage of domestic violence and sexual violence ever ends up in this scenario?
Consider that most accusations, if they ever get to legal proceedings are not carried forth or that accusations are retracted because the survivor cannot cope with carrying on with months (at least) of distress caused by being tied up on the legal system.
Consider that very few cases of child abuse are prosecuted, partly because they are very hard to prove by legal standards and also that parents might feel that it is not in the child's best interest to put them through the stress of reliving it through a legal system and they might prefer to instead help their child though it through by other means and try and help them get on with their lives.
Maybe the upswing in people talking out about violent relationships and sexual abuse of children is not another manifestation of this army of vindictive women out to exact revenge and instead a reflection of people being more open to talking about these things that they wouldn't have been willing to do just a generation ago. No-one outside my family would have believed that my affable father beat the shit out his kids and nobody spoke up about the sexual abuse going on because we were all so fucking ashamed and frightened of what people would think of us. People talk about it more now, although god only knows why because unless you get a perpetrator in front of a jury pronouncing them guilty there is always the lingering suspicion that survivors are making false allegations. And certainly retracting an accusation, which I have done because I thought it would ameliorate the warzone I was living in (it didn't) doesn't mean it didn't happen. It just means that sometimes people do this in order to try and take care of their own well-being.

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As I said earlier, revolutionary/anarchist/communist notions of justice needs to be better and fairer than anything the bourgeois legal system stands for.

True. Not sure that assuming that allegations of violence and child abuse are just tactics in acrimonious child custody cases is an example of this.

no1

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How is this relevant to what happens in leftist or anarchist organisations?

Because unless you live in a compound with no contact with the outside world, this is the world we live in, in a culture where the de facto response is not to believe survivors.

Serge Forward
Mar 25 2014 17:17

Yes, no1, that sounds about right. I have no disagreement with the view that sexual violence is common in relationships, nor have I disagreed that most rape allegations are true and should always be taken seriously. My disagreement is with notions of justice which seem to be based on little more than faith. If one's definition of justice is based on the view that 'idealised person X surely wouldn't say or do such a thing' and any disagreement makes you a 'rape apologist' so ner, then, seriously, I would say the bourgeois courts would be infinitely superior to such 'revolutionary justice' dredged from the anarcho-swamp.

Allegations, made by mothers during relationship break ups, of sexual abuse of a child by the father, are not uncommon and no doubt many of these allegations are true. However, I gather such false allegations are possibly due to the adversarial nature of relationship break ups, access/custody battles, etc, and the willingness of both sides to use their kids as a weapon in such disputes. Admittedly, the examples I gave were anecdotal, however, True and False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse: Assessment and Case Management by Tara Ney PhD might be useful, particularly chapter 12. That said, I fear Tara Ney might soon find herself labelled a rape apologist.

How is all this relevant to leftist and anarcho organisations? Fucked if I know but I believe it was relevant to the general discussion in this thread.

Joseph Kay
Mar 25 2014 17:42

Doesn't the fact that this FALSE ALLEGATIONS reflex only seems to apply to intimate violence make anyone take a step back and wonder why that is?