Call: Survivors of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Writing on Solidarity with Prison Abolition (Canada)

– This call comes out of Canada and parts of Western Europe.

325 receives and transmits:

Working Title: Challenging Convictions: Survivors of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Writing on Solidarity with Prison Abolition.

Completed submissions due: April 15, 2012.

Like much prison abolition work, the call for this anthology comes from frustration and hope: frustration with organizers against sexual assault and domestic violence who treat the police as a universally available and as a good solution; frustration with prison abolitionists who only use “domestic violence” and “rape” as provocative examples; and, frustration with academic discussions that use only distanced third-person case studies and statistics to talk about sexual violence and the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). But, this project also shares the hope and worth of working toward building communities without prisons and without sexual violence. Most importantly, it is anchored in the belief that resisting prisons, domestic violence, and sexual assault are inseparable.

Organizers of this anthology want to hear from survivors in conversation with prison abolition struggles. We are interested in receiving submissions from survivors who are/have been imprisoned, and survivors who have not. Both those survivors who have sought police intervention, as well as those who haven’t, are encouraged to submit. We are looking for personal essays and creative non-fiction from fellow survivors who are interested in discussing their unique needs in anti-violence work and prison abolitionism.

Discussions of sexual assault, domestic violence, police violence, prejudice within courts, and imprisonment cannot be separated from experiences of privilege and marginalization. Overwhelmingly people who are perceived to be white, straight, able-bodied, normatively masculine, settlers who are legal residents/citizens, and/or financially stable are not only less likely to experience violence but also less likely to encounter the criminal injustice system than those who are not accorded the privileges associated with these positions. At the same time, sexual assault and domestic violence support centers and shelters are often designed with certain privileges assumed. We are especially interested in contributions that explore how experiences of race, ability, gender, citizenship, sexuality, or class inform your understandings of, or interactions with cops, prisons, and sexual assault/domestic violence support.

Potential topics:
· What does justice look like to you?
· Perspectives on police and prisons as a default response to sexual assault
· What do you want people in the prison abolition movement with no first hand experiences of survivorship to know?
· How did you overcome depression/feelings of futility when dealing with these systems?
· Critical reflections on why the legal system has or has not felt like an option for you
· Perspectives on the cops/PIC participating in rape culture
· Restorative justice and other methods for responding to sexual violence outside of the PIC? (if you are a settler be conscious of appropriations of indigenous methods)
· How have you felt about conversations you’ve had about the PIC?
· How sexual assault inside and outside of the PIC is treated by organizers against sexual assault, domestic violence, and the PIC
· Police and prison guards as triggers
· Responding to sexual assault and domestic violence when communities weren’t there for you
· What the legal system offers survivors and what it doesn’t
· Rants at manarchists [macho attitudes in the movement/”mackers”], the writers/directors of televised cop dramas, and communities that let you down
· Survivor shaming for reporting and for not reporting to police

Please submit first-person accounts, critical reflections, essays, and creative non-fiction to survivorsinsoli@gmail.com by April 15, 2012 with “Submission” as the subject line.

· One submission per person;
· English language (American spelling);
· Pseudonyms welcomed, as are name changes in the written piece.

If you have access to a computer:
· 12 point Times New Roman font;
· Submit as an attached document (.doc files preferred).
Passing this on to someone without computer access:
· We accept scans of hand written letters (please include contact info for the author);
· Contact us if you require a mailing address.
Early submissions are encouraged. First time authors encouraged.

If you have questions, we welcome emails to survivorsinsoli@gmail.com with “Question” in the subject line. We are looking for both shorter pieces of writing and longer pieces, but if your piece is more than 20 pages consider sending us an email to run the idea by us.

Please attach a short biography that you are comfortable sharing with the editors (200 word max.). This is not about your credentials, but getting to know you and where you are coming from. All information you provide will be kept confidential.

About selection and editing: Submissions will be reviewed by a group of readers who will consider if and how each written piece could contribute to the finished project. Each piece will be read by at least two readers who will contribute to the decision to accept/reject/edit the piece. Some of us working on this project have been made to feel alone as both survivors and abolitionists. Some of us have managed to carve spaces within these communities. Now we are looking to open the conversation and hear from people we’ve never met, who have struggled to practice politics in a rape culture and police state. We believe that the needs of survivors matter in these movements, and we don’t need someone else to speak for us or about us as case studies and numbers. We want to hear from you.

For more information please visit: http://survivorsinsoli.blogspot.com/

Please distribute widely.


About the Readers

Amelia S: I have spent many years vacillating between states of fury and states of futility when faced with the stories of injustice and abuse I encounter every day. At this point in my life I am beginning to acknowledge and focus on healing as a part of resisting domination. I believe that storytelling is an integral part of this process as well as a powerful tool for overcoming oppression. I am excited about this project—these words of strength will resonate and rupture more eardrums than any kind of sound cannon!

Fray: while participating in this project, i am glad to symbolically be called fray, because i want to be a part of this ongoing struggle against the state and its institutions! may we raze the prison industrial complex! i live in kingston and am part of an abolitionist group here, as well as other a few other anarchist projects. i’m a white, middle-class, hetero woman struggling with mental health. mainly i hope to contribute editing skills and support, while never taking a lead role. i’m excited for this anthology, the strength of words and sharing stories and ideas, and the moments of understanding and clarity.

Jerry Bomb: I’m a queer trans man, who’s still sometimes an old-school butch, sometimes a “starving artist”, and sometimes just another perpetually broke, white, anarchopunk dude who failed high school after being kicked out of his parent’s place. As both a survivor of sexual assault and an anarchist, I think developing community capacity to handle our shit and take care of each other in ways that don’t rely on those who use people’s needs, and fears, as a way to gain and enforce power over them – and to justify violence committed in the name of “safety” or “order” – is an essential part of fighting for our freedom. As such, I have been involved (both inside and outside of self-described anarchist-communities) in support work with fellow survivors, and accountability processes with perpetrators as the need arises, as well as campaigning for police and prison abolition for a number of years now.

Grace Richards: I don’t have any qualifications. And I’ve never championed of any of the causes. I’ve never tried to be an educator, or even an important member of a community. I’m just a regular Joe. But I am very hopeful that there will be proper channels for the abused and the abusers. My Stats? Mid twenties, woman, 9-5’er, mixed heritage, and I live alone with a cat.

Kay Aitch: When I started dreaming about this project, it came from wanting a resource for myself as a survivor and abolitionist who felt erased, a self-education strategy for abolitionists in my life who would ask me “what about rape?”, and a gentle tool for other survivors in my life who supported the police and prisons. I enter this project having lived through child abuse, rape, police violence, and domestic violence. I am a genderqueer living in chronic pain, and raised on social assistance. I learned to cope by hiding in books and ended up with too much education. I have lived as a settler on stolen land, and my experiences of living as an immigrant are filtered through white/Anglophone privileges. Ever since I was pepper sprayed two years ago, my eyes still burn when I cry. This reminds me that my rage and hope are not at odds with each other.

Pestle: I’m a queer sexual assault survivor and former sex worker. I’ve spent the past 8 years traveling through the punk/squatter communities and doing a lot of poorly-organized anti-authoritarian activism. Much of this involved figuring out my community’s shit without the aid of cops, even as our community members were being deported or locked in hospitals/jails. I’m currently studying to be a midwife. I spend my time trying to understand my history of (and inner tendencies towards) aggression, and trying to channel them into building a world of gender equality and bodily autonomy. Here’s hoping.

Rose Þ: I am a female 56-year-old white bisexual survivor of childhood incest, rape, and partner-assault. I never laid charges or reported any of the sexual assaults. I have suffered from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism for most of my life. I never finished University and was considered unemployable due to my mental illness for decades. I have spent the last 20 years trying to make some sense of all this and to recover. I have been sober for 16 years and now am back in the workforce crawling out of years of poverty both in and out of the social welfare system in Canada. I still struggle with depression and with my dependence on psychotropic medications to keep me from falling into the pit. I do not date. I do not have sex. I have raised two children (mostly on my own) and love them fiercely.

Usman: I am the child of undocumented migrant laborers and the survivor of domestic abuse. Both of these facts have shaped much of my life. I’ve spent the past few years moving into “documentation” within the Canadian state slowly dealing with having lived as an undocumented migrant. However, my journey into dealing with what being a “survivor” of domestic abuse is very much in its starting state. I’m looking forward to reading and having conversations with fellow survivors.

Yochana: My interest in this project stems from the ways in which I have witnessed both sexual assault work and prison abolition work become particularly salient in my communities post G20. As a white queer femme who has more experience in sexual assault work, and in the often invisible support work in these movements, I’m eager to deepen my understanding about the ways in which these intersect with prison abolition work and how this can strengthen our collective resistance to trauma and oppression. I feel honored to be a part of this project and look forward to engaging in these dialogues.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 at 6:16 pm and is filed under Prison Struggle.