“The restoration starts at home : Healing (sexual) trauma and restoring intimate circles in LGBTQI and activists community”.
The first title of this article was: The precise pain of being queer, breaking up, and having no one to talk to. — and a possible new title would be : The revolution of being seen.
It s after a few painful queer breaks up that it came to my mind : “Hey, but those relations are not about sex. they are about feelings, deep feeling. and deeper than that, it s about family, belonging, communities, bonds, and If i break up and i can not talk about it, and if i can’t find support to go through this it s unbearable!”
(it also brought me to very deep depression and anxiety, and this text is birthing at the end of one of this journey)
This understanding that queer relations are mostly sexual come from the heteronormative culture I was raised into. A culture that was trying hard to accept homosexual, for people with diverse (but acceptable) sexual desires. I knew i was attracted to people of all gender.
I had to wait and cross my own homophobia to accept that i could actually live those stories.
But for a long time in my subconscient, it was about attraction, sexual attraction. Not about life, family, deep deep bounds and meaning.
So when I broke up, with queer lovers, this grief, i did not know what to do with it. The break up with my hetero lover was very well understodd and everyone in mfamily would help me to grieve. But I had to hide the other pains. and worst, i was hidding a lot of feeling to myself, because there was shame, a lot of shame.
The precise pain of being queer, breaking up, and having no one to talk to: this sentence comes from a friend. her situation is way more complicated than mine was.
The people around me, was at least, trying to accept that this was a relation, not just a sexual fatansy, some of my friends know about my relation. In her relation, for years, everything was hiden to everyone. In both our case, our deep pain could not be heard when we broke up. And I had broken up with my family in order to live this story.
Griefing needs rituals, steps, personnal and collective understanding.
The other layer of pain was way more internal.
I loved my lovers (the same break up happene twice) and the break up seemed to have been triggered by something i had done or not payed attention to in intimacy.
This, i could not forgive me.
In many ways, there were no one i could talked to.
Or actually, i did, I have an ex lover to talk to about my actual heart pain… and they saved my life. but we also have healing to do together, and we need support to do so, and have little.
I realise something worst : The queer community has social media to talk to/through. and of course, many other spaces. There are places of expression of pain. There are places to express rage. To express disgust. To express anger. There are very few places, or spaces, or text, to find healing, restoration, transformation of trauma into thriving. and even the metoo movement, that was started by xx in that healing intention (to find empathy), has been transformed into a movement of blaming. i ve french origins, and in this country, the metoo movement has been tranformed into a “hurl your pig”. So people started to hurl. and i really understand the need of denonciating people in position of power, using it to create silence. But this is not healing. and within intimate relation and queer and marginalised contexts, this is not healing. Because this is what we use, hurling as a supposed to be feminist methodology. Oh yes, it s good to break silence, My concerned is what exil does to the person targetted by such flinging.
While asking for ressources in order to support an intimate crisis (the kind of crisis i ve been trhough and would have loved so much to find support for).
I was given to read a text that horrified me but also made me understood an uncovered dimension of LGBTQI love and pain and break-up cultures. Because we had to criticise and discontruct so much norms and oppression in order to exist, queer culture has also brought the same critical framework within herself. And doing so been badly invaded by punitive culture, and blame and shame, and threat of exclucion, are both vividly voiced or underlying.
The text is taken from The Revolution starts at home, and is titled ” the myth of mutal abuse.”
I thought i would get some support here to deconstruct the use of abuse in the description of pain in LGBTQ relationship. Unfortanuttly, the text concentrated it s critic on the term “Mutual”, underlying that there is not mutuality, but mostly onsided abuse. and the text conclude:
“the lesbians batterer needs to be told that violence is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in our community”
and here come the exclusion.
The zine is titled:
“Revolution starts at home: Confronting partner abuse in activist communities”.
And what i would like to read is
“Restoration starts at home : Healing sexual trauma and restoring intimate conversations in LGBTQI and activities community”.
and i can not find it.
So maybe this need to be written.
When i read this zine, i see gaping holes, open wounds, pains who ask for healing, but can mostly cryies, calling the ex a monster, how the best friend became an abuser, how violence is amoung us, and should be called out. Most of those stories draw a line. But the line is drawn within the circle, within the house, withing the community. It s clear line of exclusion. “violence is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in our community” how many time did i see that ? I argued to remove it in one trans feminist event i was facilitated (also because it was mentionned than any kind of sexism/racism/transphobia…) will bring the person to be excluded without further discussion. I argued that we did not have the manumilitary power to exclude anyone. It was too long and i did not have the language yet to explain why this was so problematic. But I happened later to go to the place where this same event was first hosted. and discussed it s premiss with one of the organiser. So what is a sexist behavior. Do every one agree ? Can we agree ? Can we discuss ? Is there space for discusssion ? Is there space for healing ? Is there space for restoration ? It was good to have this discussion because a week later, I was very triggered by an event that my activist side of me would qualify technomachiste and violent (it involved slow self exclusion of every feminine and non binary person in the group, the use of explosive substance, and the recreative firing of those substance). I had to talk about it. I had to call it out. I was particulary triggered because i had save someone from immolation a few month ago and have a friend whose skin is burned with chimical). So I had to stop, shout, express my anger, call is sexist, violent. Everyone shivered. I had used the words that make someone liable to exclusion. But it s not what i wanted. Fortunatly, everyone was willing to listen. We had a circle. I wanted it to be restorative. It was a space of vulnerability. We all went deep and for the next days, even more deepening was allowed. The authors or the acts felt bad, sorry, some where defensive (of playfullness for exemple). It was unconfortable but we holded space. I was grateful for the space being hold. I was grateful no one thought of exclusion. and I told them, this is what is a safer or a daring space to me : where we can hold space for violence, for conflict, for misunderstanding, for sorrow, for anger, for pain, for vulnerabilities, for emotions of all kind. and this is how tranformation happen. and I like that way more than excluding anyone involved.
In texts that testify of a pain and labels the authors of the pain as an abuser, a monster, a disgusting character, with the use of graphic exemple, the line is reshaped, so the freshly discoverd abuser, monster, perpetuator, is publicly described and performed as an outsider. out. ouscasted. monster. out abusers. I hear this voice because even if it was not voiced to me in particular, i heard it and read it so often, than when my partner, my lover, my very very very dear lover, told me i had not been attentive, not consensual enough, told me that sex had to stop without telling me what was wrong. I knew i wanted to be responsable, and present and stilll loving and kind. But I guilt took other. It resonnated within myself, for years : you hurted you lovers, badly. You’re not a safe person. They are more queer than you are, the desserve more respect, care, creativity than what you can give and if i read the anti oppressive grid correctly, they are more fragile than you are.
So shame on you. Oh no, not shame, a voice was telling me : i should not feel ashamed, I should thrive and get responsable. Face, Hear, Heal, Listen. Listen to the silence most of the time. Listen to my own voices most of the time. Because your voices are very familiar, and very talk tative and what they mostly know of is abuse. And you’ve been abused. Oh yes remember, you’ve been bitten by a jalous man. and raped by a colleague. Wou knew it was raped because you cried, before, in the middle of the night and in the morning. But at that time, you tried to pretend it was a date, that i did not really want but became an unexpected one.
And then, something in me mix everything. I ve suffered. I ve been hurt, and i caused hurt.
It s not at all the same say my therapist. I know. my rational brain knows. Not my nervous system (not yet).
So i freeze and I froze, for many years now, i ve been lost and frozen.
But i dont want to show you my gaping hole. sorry, I know how this image can be graphic. And it is. and so many of the stories I read are. A gaping hole is to me a wound. a sacred wound as a healer i recently discovered phrase it. traces of bomb blast on a wall. A trauma that was never healed. Something we carry in our heart and is looking for comfort. but it doesn t find the medecine. Because we don’t know. Because few knows or few remembers. I’ve met the mother of a murder indigenous woman, who learned and was teaching, (but lacking support) that healing is not nourrished by rage, and that understanding what and how it happened it the way.
In the queer and feminist i text about sexual trauma, crisis, pain, what i mostly read is blaming, punishing, shaming, but not healing.
We know we don t want victime blaming, so we find someone else to blame.
the ex lover
the ex friend
the ex sister
capitalism and patriarchy.
media, business, racism.
sexism, homophobia, transphobia.
yes, i agree. if fully agree.
the ex lover triggered or caused so much pain.
the mother or the father
or the absent parents
or the clumsy ones.
they caused so much pain.
But blame doesn’t heal.
I know that too much.
it s just that it is what we’ve learn.
it s just that it is what we have
it s just that punitive/blaming/shaming culture is sooo pervasive.
Oh yes, because if we don’t blame the other person, something worst could happen: reverse blame is shame and it s sooo painful. Unbearable to live with. Unbearable to leave with. so we make sure, at some point, to make clear, to write public, that the other is to blame, so shame ccan leave us alone.
If I want to write a text titled: “Restoration starts at home : Healing sexual trauma and restoring intimateconversations in LGBTQI and activities community”.
Who is going to join ?
Who am I going to send the invitation to ?
I might be blamed for doing so 🙂
– for now, most of the nvc and restorative process i know of are not very close to LGBTQI and activist cultures… hopefully my dear loving queer friends are shaping this better.
– for now, most of the transformative justice people i know maintnain a clear distinction between victim and perpetuator, because the perperpetuator has to change (take responsability…etc)… that the line, and i ve only heard of sad sad stories of exlucsion, shaming and trauma resulting of that processed in our LGBTQI communities.
– I know of a Europeen network, working on the coplexity consent, who wrote a beautiful zine of restorative stories. It also include strategies to give support to people who received harm or pain, and people who caused harm and pain. knowing that everyone is suffering, and everyone needs support, so we can heal somewhere together.
– I’m very inspired by the work done by activist and writters from Detroit, who write vision fiction so we can leave in the future. It seems that in the future, restoration will be a practice. That s what Evidence from Alexis Pauline Baump told me. It s also what Ursula Leguin wrote. And many descendents of her legacy, and of Octavia Butler Legacy
– Kai Shang Thom as written beautiful inspiring texts in that realm. Explaining why she would stop identifying as an activist.
In fact, I love and agree with so many subtitles of her text ( 8 Steps Toward Building Indispensability (Instead of Disposability) Culture): The Revolution Is a Relationship, The Oppressor Lives Within, Accountability Starts in the Heart, Perpetrator/Survivor is a False Dichotomy, Punishment Isn’t Justice (nor healing) and Community Is the Answer.
– I also like how Sarah Ahmed write, because she stand with tenderness for the mess, in front of the critical order.
– The recent critical text was also going in the same direction. but it s bit of a critical standpoint. It s s what acaedemic do. and what activist do too. But see, i ve started to become a bit critical of the critic 🙂 Or lets see, i m tired of critical distance. I want loving proximity. and that is very daring ! but oh so inspiring. “The price is high, the reward is great” Maya Evangelou said (regarding to belonging) I believe this is a path of self belonging. of community belonging. To reintegrate pain and healing within our circles.
I want to read restorative stories.
I want to know how to do that.
I want to bath in restorative art.
I want to sit in restorative circles
With us in particular, LGBTQI and activist.
Who’s communities are families.
Who’s bound are so precious that their bursting are dangerous for the life of their inhabitant.
for us, we want so much to fight punitive prison binary systems
and yet have very little tools but blame and shame division, exclusion in lieu for grieghtin, thriving and healing.
In fact, there are people doing that work. It’s way too invisible and really not enough supported. Among other, but also quite alone, dear D, restored about dizaines of intimate queer and activist conflicts in the city of copenhagen. but because those communities are poor. Because when the crisis fires, it s hard to ask for money. Because what is publicised and funded, is much more spectacular bashing than intimate complexe restoration work, for now, it s an underground paradigm. But I swear, when i read or hear such healing and restorative stories, or even better, when you experience such restoration, where vulnerability is the door of complexe mutual understanding, when there is no more mutual abuse but mutual hearing, it s such a shift of paradigm, it s so thriving and empowering, it s beyond desire, it s a need we all have and can’t believe it can be so true.
Kai Cheng Thom, 2016, 8 Steps Toward Building Indispensability (Instead of Disposability) Culture, Everyday feminism https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/11/indispensability-vs-disposability-culture/
Kai Cheng Thom, 2016, 7 Ways Social Justice Language Can Become Abusive in Intimate Relationships, https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/02/social-justice-abuse-ipv/
Kai Cheng Thom, 2016, 4 Ways That Call-Out Culture Fails Trans Women (And Therefore, All of Us), Everyday feminism, https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/10/call-out-culture-fails-trans-women/
Maisha Z. Johnson, 2016, 6 Signs Your Call-Out Isn’t Actually About Accountability, Everyday feminism, https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/05/call-out-accountability/
Kitty Stryke, 2016, Why are we encouraging marginalized people to fight each other?, https://thewalrus.ca/the-problem-with-callout-culture/
Alexis Pauline Gumbs : “Evidence”, in Octavia’s Brood (adriane maree brown, ed)
Sarah Ahmed : “Queer feeling” in the Culture politics of Emotions
Halberstam Jack, 2014, Bully bloggers, You Are Triggering me! The Neo-Liberal Rhetoric of Harm, Danger and Trauma https://www.scribd.com/document/312963996/You-Are-Triggering-me-The-Neo-Liberal-Rhetoric-of-Harm-Danger-and-Trauma-Bully-Bloggers
Halberstam Jack, 2015, « Tu me fais violence ! ». La rhétorique néolibérale de la blessure, du danger et du traumatisme », Vacarme, 2015/3 (N° 72), p. 28-41. DOI : 10.3917/vaca.072.0028. URL : https://www.cairn.info/revue-vacarme-2015-3.htm-page-28.htm
People Who do Harm are not Monsters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLnlA2NRulg