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Thursday, 20 June 2013

On Being Believed

Trigger warnings for abuse apply.

Earlier I was trying to explain to The Lovely why We Believe You is such a powerful statement.

I talked about rape culture and purity culture and patriarchy and all the other things you would expect. I talked about it being the starting point that might encourage a woman to report abuse. That cynicism, no matter how well meant would be a barrier. Mostly he gets it. He is a good man, a good feminist and a good ally.

But it occurred to me that there was another reason We Believe You is so powerful. And this would not occur to anyone who hasn't been there.

It is because, for many of us it is the first time we have ever heard it.

I heard it for the first time when I posted on the #Ididnotreport hashtag. I cried for hours. And hours. For the first time in my life I felt at peace. It has been a huge contributing factor to the fact that I am able to be so honest on this blog.

I spent my life being told I was over reacting, making it up, being ridiculous. I heard excuses, 'reasons', most of which pointed to it being my fault. I provoked him. I should have been better. Looked after myself better, made myself more attractive, more available.

You know what?

FUCK YOU!

Fuck you the ice cream man who felt me up when I was 14 and told me that no one would believe me if I told.

Fuck you the woman who told me that the occasional slap was ok but I shouldn't put up with full on punches.

Fuck you the man who raped me when I was 14 and let his mates watch. And then told me that no one would believe it was rape because he was my boyfriend.

Fuck you woman who told me not to tell my mum because it was her wedding day and people might not believe me because they might think I was trying to deflect attention from my mother's big day.

Fuck you mum for replying when I finally plucked up the courage to tell you years later that you didn't believe that I would have kept it a secret for that long and that if it was true that I would have told you at the time.

Fuck you man who told me that no one would believe he beat me while pregnant because he was so solicitous of me in public.

To the woman who said I should maybe wear make up more often so that he would find me too attractive to hit. Fuck you.

Fuck you man who told me that no one would believe I didn't know he was shagging about and would assume that I was weak for allowing it.

Fuck you everyone who made me hide inside myself so that I didn't have to face up to all the abuse I had taken because I was such a 'strong woman' that no one would believe me.

Everyone who told me it was my fault if it happened. Fuck you.

Anyone who thinks that a starting point of I Believe You is discriminatory against men. Fuck You most of all. Just fuck you.

In a week where Stuart Hall got 15 months, where Charles Saatchi calls putting his hands round his wife's neck a 'playful tiff' (this is actually an abusers way of saying look how easily I could kill you), where Unison conference voted down a we believe her amendment to a motion because TEH MENZ, fuck you if you think that I will not ALWAYS put I Believe You at the forefront of my mind.

Just fuck you.

To anyone who is being abused. Speak up and speak out.

I believe you.