Last month, MLP hosted a workshop at Wingnut Collective entitled “Overcoming Violence”. Now, workshops dealing with violence are nothing new. However, there was something different about this workshop. Instead of being aimed at Survivors of violence, it was aimed at Perpetrators of violence. As in, folks that have violated the boundaries of others in a violent way: From physical or emotional abuse, to rape and other violations of consent.
On the internet we received some criticism; some folks outraged that we would be “supporting” perpetrators, to calling us all out “rape apologists”. Such accusations we don’t take lightly.
Our view is that for too long, violence has been a problem left to Survivors to recover from. And while Survivors deserve our utmost support in helping them recover from violation, little gets done to try and actually stop violence. This workshop was the first attempt to address this disparity in treating violence in the community.
What we found from the workshop was interesting. A little more than half those whom showed up were perpetrators, the rest were folks whom knew perpetrators, or were Survivors themselves.
To many folks, this seemed like a recipe for disaster.
So how did it go? It went great. There was zero apologetics, perpetrators admitted why they were there, folks talked about their issues and concerns about their behavior, and then we all wondered what could be done to get help. That’s right, the resounding tone of the entire discussion came down to “What can I do to get help”? The biggest question was “How can I obtain an accountability process?”. That’s right, the folks want to be held accountable, and work through their problems.
I see this development as a huge step. We have folks that have hurt others, wanting to get accountable, to change their behavior, to prevent it from happening again. And accountability process, as asked for in majority, are a great start.
There is one problem though. This community here in Richmond has not been very good at pulling these processes together. I’m hoping that this is more as seeing them as daunting tasks and not knowing where to begin. I’m daunted as well. But, we have resources, and accordingly, MLP is asking all those interested in preventing violence to help us build an accountability process in Richmond. It’s not every day you have perpetrators owning their actions and asking for help. But today we do have that, and I don’t want to waste this opportunity.
If you don’t see the importance of this issue; let me put it in perspective.
- One in Four college women has been raped or were attempted to be raped
- 25% of women will be abused by their partner or former partner during their lives
- 84% of women raped knew their assailant.
- 78% of sexually assaulted women knew their assailant.
- about one man in 20 (4.5%) is a perpetrator of rape or sexual assault
- and 50% of rapists are between 15 and 24 years old
Additionally, Alcohol plays a huge factor, with around 30% of rapists being intoxicated. This statistic was represented similarly in the perpetrators at the workshop.
As people of a community, particularly the radical community here in Richmond, we foster connections between people. We plan activities that bring people together to make the world a better place. But in planning these, we also create situations in which people can be attacked, violated, raped. And the perpetrators are within our own community. By these statistics, we would not be wrong to put a trigger warning on every event ever hosted in the radical community that, rapists and perpetrators of violence will likely be present. In short, we would be better organizing NOTHING, than creating opportunities for others to be violated and then doing nothing about it.
This is a bold undertaking. The system around us does not focus on stopping rape or assault. We live in a culture that breeds, encourages, and reaffirms rape and violence. But as members of what we believe to be a counter-culture, rather than just a subculture, we won’t use large culture’s failure to deal with this as the seed for our own apathy. Doing so damns us to a poverty in our idealism that will ravage every aspect of our actions. We believe every single one of us is accountable for our actions, either in preventing assault, rape, and violence, or in dealing with it once it has occurred. And accountability processes are the most obvious, most positive, and most productive step we believe we can make to help people of all sides of the equation stop violating and being violated.
We are interested in a dialogue, and in getting accountability processes to turn from fairy tale unicorn into a routine and expected reality here in Richmond. Our ears and inbox is open. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Gary Llama
Mindful Liberation Project