Sometimes the systems that exist in society just seem nonsensical to me. I am bewildered on a regular basis at how poorly systems work to protect the rights of marginalized folks, children, women, trans folks, People of Colour, Indigenous folks…I start to wonder who or what the systems do support and uphold.
I believe the answer is that they support privilege and privileged people.
When a man accused of sexual assault has his views and ideas on the situation treated as equally, if not MORE valid than those of the survivors, the system is broken.
I’m feeling angry right now and this post may be somewhat cryptic because I can’t write about everything I’m coping with until a later date.
I just wanted to say that not all opinions are equally valid.
Some opinions are based on facts, lived experience, research, expertise or some combination of these things.
Other opinions are just plain lies, untrue and not supported by anything.
Yes, you have the right to think anything you want, but you don’t necessarily have the right to state all those thoughts out loud in every circumstance.
Some opinions are actually oppression and bigotry, cleverly DISGUISED as valid opinions.
In some cases there is an absolute truth, something that exists outside of opinions and is just real. In some cases, people only have their lived experience and they must be believed that their lived experience is valid.
But what happens when an abuser states that his lived experience, opinion and view is that he didn’t abuse anyone!? That the survivor is seriously mentally ill and making up accusations to damage his credibility?
Who do we believe? Where does the absolute truth lie?
I’m willing to concede that for outsiders it can be difficult to tell what is truth and what is fiction. But when an abuser says that he didn’t abuse anyone, shouldn’t we take this with a grain of salt?
That’s not what I have observed. In my lived experience, abusers are believed outright. They are rarely challenged. Their views on the situation during the time of the abuse are considered true and valid.
Survivors are doubted, questioned, berated, accused and treated like they have every motivation to lie about the abuse. The system gaslights them and confused them, mirroring the way they have been treated by the abuser they are escaping from.
I don’t even see equity or equal treatment. It would be easier for me to accept if the systems (police, hospital, court, child protection) viewed both the abuser and the survivor as potentially biased. Trust no one. Believe nothing.
But that isn’t what I see. I see the systems used against the survivor to benefit the opinions, rights and preferences of the abuser. I see the system used to dismantle the credibility of the survivors who are brave enough to come forward.
Why do we accept to live in a world where abusers are innocent until proven guilty, but survivors are treated as guilty of lying from the start?
I’m angry, I’m frustrated, I want to change the system. I want to smash all the institutions I see around me and rebuild them from the ground up, grassroots style, with the input of marginalized communities highlighted and validated.
Smash the white supremacist, capitalist, cis-heteropatriarchy!
I’d like to see a revolution. I’d like to wake up tomorrow and build a whole new world.
The worst part of it is, that the only thing worse than a woman coming forward to speak out about sexual violence, seems to be a woman survivor advocating and agitating for changes to the systems that have continually failed her.
Silence is the enemy of change. I’m willing to bet that the majority of “average people” out there still believe we have a justice system, police and child protection systems that are impartial and unbiased. People speaking out and telling their stories is the only way to shatter this misconception.
I refuse to stay silent. The systems have failed me and my family, over and over again.