This is a really difficult one.
How do I talk about silence? About being silenced?
Silence is this silence’s aim after all, deep and lasting, suffocating; this silence is all about keeping secrets secret, till death do we bloody well part.
How do I talk about a silence so default, so ingrained; a silencing brought about by physical and emotional pain, abuse, neglect and ? How do I even notice the silence in my self whilst it and the world at large, has been so busy training me to evade detection for all this time?!
(Note to readers, discussion of silence around sexual violence, assault and rape follows).
Where to start with silence?
For my self, I’m glad I started to write my dreams down in my mid 20’s. I’ve notebooks and notebooks with years and pages of parts of the answers to my questions; and whilst they’re useful, I’ll tell you, they’re not comfortable reading in any way.
For a few years I often dreamt of gagging out very long, solid lumps of broken and crushed glass from my throat and mouth, then for a while it was great long lumps of chewing gum.. one year it was all about keeping eggs somehow safe and unbroken in my mouth, holding them, carrying them.
This year I was (stay with me here) pleased to have a dream where I was gagging out similar in amount and consistency, long lumps of shit. Actual shit. Clearly, it was not a pleasant dream but it was so obvious in its degrading choice of matter/metaphor that on waking, it felt liberating rather than humiliating; it felt like something was actually moving, that I was passing out waste matter, stuff for the compost rather than something dangerous which could still cut me or choke me.
Of course sometimes it’s strangers who cause us harm, intentionally or unintentionally, but in my experience violence and trauma is inflicted more often by those nearest and dearest; those to whom we’ve won or built up the gift of trust.
Rape Crisis says “only around 10% of rapes are committed by ‘strangers’…”
Sexual violence statistics are generally horrifying especially when we consider the fact that most violence is never spoken about let alone reported.
Again, Rape Crisis “Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report to the police”.
…Anyone else here questioning the wording of “choose” to report to the police?! What if you don’t know you have a “choice”, what if the person who is hurting you is one of your best friends, or a family member or a person in authority? What if you’re too young to understand what’s going on or too young to talk even? What if the person, or people, are just acting like it’s normal, like it’s a laugh, like ‘everyone does it‘..
So… there’s this totally weird thing about it somehow being the responsibility of the injured person (I literally can’t bear to use ‘v*ct*m’) to report the violence. What the fuck is wrong with this picture?! Why is owning up to shit awful behaviour so far away from the status quo? I got asked today if one of the people who has assaulted me has ever asked me for my forgiveness and I hardly even understood the question, let alone could blurt out the “hell, no” answer without laughing.
And I know, I’m totally skirting around addressing questions of gender here, like I said, this is really difficult. I’m just, right now, looking at some numbers (thanks again Rape Crisis) and crying whilst they’re telling me 93% of service users in 2013 were female.
Ninety… three.. percent.
No only is this a difficult topic to cover, but it’s problematic for me on many levels including as some one assigned female at birth but identifying as non-binary/trans, the acts of sexual violence I have .. been at the hands of .. were not only hugely painful both emotionally and physically, all extremely confusing by the act of betrayal from people… men and boys… I trusted or was supposed to be able to trust, but they all mislaid me somewhere (of course all identities in a way are mislaid by the perpetrators of sexual violence) in their assumption of me as female.
I know from consensual lovers that one of the things that people generally find attractive about me is my masculinity as much as my femininity. And that for me, my friends, was the confusing cherry on top of the burnt and tasteless cake of assault. I was being treated like a female object whilst my very female-ness was hugely dysphoric to me already. And writing this I feel.. massive pain in identifying as non-binary/trans nest to statistics like “93% service users were female”, like somehow I’m betraying womankind to not identify as female when talking about sexual violence.
I think this is all I can say about this right now, I’ve got a lot more to say but I think I’m going to go and maybe punch something inanimate and then go and spend some time with some friends who care about me for a bit.
Thanks for reading so far.