What Do You Mean By Brave

I wonder if being called brave is just a subtle way of silencing survivors.

Of course, I am sure that many think saying another is brave is a compliment, but I want unpack how it comes across to me.

Maybe me and all other women who have survived multiple forms of male violence are brave, hell did we have any other choice.

I mean, do you really think I chose to be sexually abused by my stepdad, that I chose to know about hard-core porn, that I chose to sexually tortured as a prostituted girl and woman.

I just had to find ways of dealing with it, is that what you call bravery.

But do you want to know all the ways I cope, all just the pretty ways, the ways that fit inside your concept that bravery is just about strength and dignity.

But when living inside extreme male violence, coping is messy and often can appear very negative.

One way of surviving is to be numbed by self-hatred. To completely say this is all I deserve, and close down the reality.

A reality where you have no control, where your every action is being manipulated. Where hope is murdered before you even begin to imagine it could be part of your life.

How else can any girl or woman cope with living with torture that seems to have no end.

To me, it is brave to form a surrounding of self-hatred for it may prevent the shock of the reality sending many over the edge.

I don’t care what women and girls do with that self-hate, I care more that somehow they manage to survive.

I drunk, I took speed, I cut myself, I fought with good people, I went looking for men to fuck me into hell, I overdosed, I stop sleeping, I eat crap, I masturbated until I bleed, I try to drown myself – but I survived.

I survived that is all that matters.

The bravery of staying alive when everything shows death is so easy – is that what you call brave.

When you say brave, could be that you are closing down where survivors came from.

After all, soldiers are called brave so long as they nothing of the reality of war, we say torture victims are brave, but don’t want to know the details.

Brave means – wow it terrible what you went through, but please say about your strength, not the nasty stuff you went through.

Hell, that is impossible, how can I or any other survivor disconnect what made us “strong” with our past hells.

How can there be real change if survivors cannot say of the reality of their hells.

You are just listening or reading our lives. Yes, I know some of you can connect with our pain. But in the end when you say we are brave, think how silencing that can be.

It can feel like being patted on the head, or being put back into a box.

The ugliness must be spoken of.

To know the ugly side of the sex trade, to hear and really listen to survivors of the sex trade saying the hate and degradation – that will bring about change.

To censor coz it is hard to hear or read is not good enough.

It is too late to be nice about how and why we must destroy the sex trade.

Too late when it is an industry that is built on rape, sexual torture, battering, murder, contempt, degradation and making as much money as possible.

Too late when men can owned women and girls, and we pretend it is not slavery coz we make it the choice of the women and girls.

Being reasonable and ignoring the nasty side, is playing into the sex trade’s hands. They want to be portrayed as just part of the leisure culture and harmless.

When survivors of the sex trade say their truths, they become a dangerous enemy of the sex trade.

They must be silenced at all costs, for if even one rape is believed, one murder made to count, one belief in the sexual torturing – then the structure of the sex trade slowly starts to crumble.

So if you say survivors are brave, in order to stop them speaking too much, then in the long run you are aiding the sex trade.

That is an ugly truth.

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6 responses to “What Do You Mean By Brave

  1. Yes, it’s a distancing tactic, so they don’t have to deal with the reality of what you are saying.

    I suppose it’s a human impulse, to shy away from pain, but it doesn’t help survivors and equally importantly it doesn’t do anything to address ending the sex trade and the destruction of women in it. Calling survivors/victims brave puts them in a box, puts the perpetrators in another box, puts perpetrators’ actions in yet another box and then shoves them all safely out of the way, so it doesn’t impinge upon how people see their everyday world.

    The truth is that women and girls are suffering in our midst and that “normal” men, the men right beside us are creating this suffering and agony. The truth is that the horror is actually all around us, if people would open their eyes.

    People distancing themselves from that reality is not the answer.

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  2. I mean really, “brave” is an insult. What choice did you have? What choice does any woman or girl in that position have?

    Maybe when they say “brave” what they are really trying to tell you is that they are being cowardly about it.

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  3. Thanks Delphyne, I do believe constantly being told that I am brave, is just an excuse for other’s inaction.

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  4. “Brave” means “what you survived would kill me, which is easy for me to say because I consider myself safe from your life.” It establishes a distance because if it’s a woman and she really identifies with you, she can’t still lie to herself that you are from different worlds, and therefore loses her harbor.

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