sisters of resistance

anti-imperialist pro-vegan radical queer feminist hip-hop & grime revolutionaries.

The hardest letter I’ve ever written [tw: sexual abuse] — June 3, 2016

The hardest letter I’ve ever written [tw: sexual abuse]

I wrote this letter to my aunt  and sent it by email in January of last year. I think her husband deleted it because she never replied. I may one day try sending it again but right now I am not ready. So, with the aim of continuing my healing process, I am posting it here and sharing it with you, my beloved readers. Thank you for holding space for me. – dia 

My dearest aunt,

I never imagined I would be writing you this letter. It has taken me years to simply acknowledge and accept that what I am going to tell you is true. It scares me to tell you, but in this case I must face my fears because I believe wholeheartedly that this is the right thing to do.

There is no way to put this that will make it easier to take, so I will say it as clearly as I can. Your husband sexually molested me each summer I was in the Philippines since I was 13. When I was 13, when you and he and I would fall asleep on the couch, I would wake up because he was touching my body and putting his tongue in my ear. I would run upstairs to get away from him. When I came back at age 17, he encouraged me to drink alcohol and when I was drunk he took advantage of me. After that, he would try to touch or kiss me every time we were alone, which was a lot because he was expected to look after me while everyone was at work. His behavior continued until I was 21 and I never told anyone. I blocked out these memories for a long time but they have come back to me now and I think it is important to tell you, because you deserve to know.

The thing that scares me most about telling you is that you, he, or other family members might blame me for what happened. But I know what happened to me was not my fault. I did not ask for, invite, or court his attention. I was young and vulnerable; I thought he was my friend. He was in a trusted position as a caretaker and he took advantage of that position. He was the adult in the situation and he violated the trust that all of us placed in him, yours, mine, and our whole family’s.

I told my mom a few years ago and she decided, without asking me, to tell her sisters. Although this was not my choice and I am not responsible for this, I want to apologise on their behalf that they have kept this information from you for so long. I do not think this is right but I know they thought it best not to say anything, in order to keep the peace.

Today, I am not interested in keeping the peace. I would rather tell the truth. And so here it is, for you to do with it what you will. Your husband groomed and molested me when I was a teenage girl, and he has gotten away with it for a long time. But not anymore.

I am willing and open to talking to you more about this if you would like. I would also be open to talking to your daughter – now, if you want her to know, or in the future if you would prefer that I wait till she is older. However, I do not want to talk to anyone else about it as I think it is important to work things out between just us for now.

If you want to talk, I am here. You can write me by email, or I can call you on the phone. If you don’t want to talk, and just take some time to process this hard and sad news, that is ok with me too. Let me know what you prefer.

I want to add – although I personally do not want to talk to anyone else besides you, I hope that you would feel free to talk to, and get support from, whomever you choose. This information is yours now, it is not a secret, and you can do with it what you think and feel it is right to do.

With all my love

Your adoring niece.

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Self-Care Guide for Survivors — May 16, 2013

Self-Care Guide for Survivors

We wrote this brief self-care guide for people who have experienced trauma, especially rape and sexual assault. It suggests a number of practical ways to cope with the day-to-day stresses of being a survivor. Please take it, share it, and tailor it to your own needs. We hope it is helpful to you on your journey towards healing. 

Reminder: Take Care of Myself

1.    Clear your space of the things that will trigger you. Toss their stuff out, Febreze rooms of their smell, delete pictures and emails and messages in your phone. Your trauma is real, and you don’t need external reminders of it.

2.    Exercise. Walk, run, stretch, swim, move. Do whatever you need to get your body to breathe. Massage tight places to release tension. Energy can get stuck there and you may not notice it for years. Moving your body allows it to talk to you, tell you what it needs. Be sure to listen.

Eat right. Raw fruits and vegetables are your friends. Even if you don’t feel like eating, stay hydrated. Keeping physically healthy helps you hold on. You are precious, like water; the world cannot afford to lose even a single drop.

3.    Get familiar with your coping mechanisms. Make connections between your experiences of stress and drinking, or stress and drugs, or smoking, shopping, eating or not eating. Rate your coping mechanisms from good-for-you! to “bad” and “worst”. Aim to do more of the good, less of the bad, and eliminate those in the “worst” by substituting in better things. Don’t beat yourself up when you fall off, but have a plan in place for how to get back on.

4.    Stop blaming yourself. The story of your transition from victim to survivor is your vehicle to this. It will take some work but remember you are the protagonist, whoever hurt you is a bad person, and now you are writing how the story will end. If this method seems to wear thin, watch Staceyann Chin videos as often as you like to remind yourself that what happened to you was not your fault.

5.    You have already been through the war, but as in battle, it is good to know the difference between a strategy and a tactic. Strategies are long-range plans to reach an intended goal. First comes the goal. Make it a positive one in the present tense, for example, I love myself, so I take care of my body. The strategy might then be to practice loving yourself from one moment to the next.

Tactics are the baby steps you take to make your strategy happen. A variety is needed for the many roads you’ll encounter. For example: when I feel like throwing up, I will leave the bathroom, take 5 deep breaths, sip peppermint tea. Or: when I want to self-harm, I will put on my jacket and go for a walk. Or: when I can’t stop crying, I will write in my journal. I will do yoga. I will call a friend. Use your tactics to support the hard work of day-to-day survival.

6.    Listen to yourself. You know more than you give yourself credit for: when to stop, when to seek help, when to steel yourself and push through the pain. Turn off the TV when the show starts to trigger you; leave the theatre when the film twists your insides into a knot. Speak your truth when a. you feel safe enough to do so, or b. when silence poses the greater danger. Force yourself to unplug from all digital devices when it is 3AM and you need to be up in the morning. Quiet the mind and open yourself to the sound of your inner voice. It is there to protect you, to keep you free, safe and out of harm’s way.

7.    When you meet anyone who doesn’t believe you, won’t listen to you, or reminds you of what happened, walk away. Don’t look back. Boundaries exist for a reason – use them. Don’t feel guilty for deleting their texts, not answering their calls, or responding to their mail. You owe them nothing. The future is a gift you should give to yourself. The occasion is imminent, and the best time is now.

What are some of your top self-care tips, strategies and tactics?

Put them in the comments below.

Happy International Women’s Day! — March 8, 2012

Happy International Women’s Day!

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2012 we link to and quote from just some of the articles celebrating IWD we have found so far.

To all women resisting imperialism, war, violence, patriarchy, environmental destruction and other forms of oppression all year round we say the struggle continues! Venceremos!

Sisterly Solidarity, today and everyday,

Sisters of Resistance

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From http://feministsforchoice.com/international-womens-day-how-did-it-start.htm

International Women’s Day: How did it start??

Today marks the 101stInternational Women’s Day around the globe. Communities use the day across the world to press demands on governments, promote gender equality, raise awareness about women’s oppression, celebrate mothers, and more. Given that this day has so much significance worldwide, it is worth knowing how the movement was started.  Consider it another item in your feminist history repertoire. […]

International Women’s Day was originally created by a group of international Suffragists to recognize their work and to press demands on their respective governments. The holiday was proposed at the second International Conference of Working Women, a Socialist conference held in Denmark, at which over 100 women from 17 countries attended.

At first the day was most widely observed in Europe but quickly spread globally. It is now an official national holiday in many countries including China, Russia, Bulgaria and Uzbekistan. While the overall purpose is the same, each country has a unique history with the holiday…

Read the full article here

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From http://allafrica.com/view/group/main/main/id/00015918.html

Africa Celebrates International Women’s Day

Rural women represent, on average, more than 40 percent of the agricultural workforce in the developing world, but they own only 1 percent of the land, and face constant barriers to equality and success.

Read more of the informative articles that All Africa have compiled from Sudan, to Rwanda and South Africa, to celebrate IWD here.

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From http://thefeministwire.com/2012/01/why-the-question-of-palestine-is-a-feminist-concern/

Why the Question of Palestine is a Feminist Concern

I have been asked how I view the occupation of Palestine from my feminist perspective, or perhaps another way to put it, why and how I think the question of Palestine is a feminist concern. It seems to me that the question posed by the predicament of Palestinians is not merely the uncertainty of their future political fate as a people (a nation without a state, territory, and resources of its own, without capacities of self-determination). It is rather the question of the specific conditions of human devaluation and disposability to which they appear to be fated by a normalized system of exploitative inequality, dispossession and violence.

That these conditions of devaluation and disposability depend on the maintenance of naturalized hierarchies of human difference (race, ethnicity, nationality, religion) will undoubtedly resonate with feminist analyses of forms of gendered devaluation, disposability and violence that obtain in many socio-historical contexts, including this one. It is also the case, however, that beyond any homologies, which this theoretical resonance might suggest (eg. between racialized and gendered forms of devaluation and disposability), the projects of settler colonialism and apartheid nationalism that the Israeli state embodies and the logic of security which undergirds and legitimates its policies of surveillance, militarization and war have long been feminist concerns.

Feminist analyses have shown how such projects are enabled and upheld not only by normative cultural ideals of gender and sexuality embedded in their constitutive conceptions of land, territory, sovereignty, people/race, citizenship, freedom and power. As modes of producing and regulating life – indeed, as projects that see to the uneven distribution of life-chances (the augmentation of life-chances of some at the cost of the reduction of life-chances of others), like and in tandem with capitalism – the projects of settler colonialism and apartheid nationalism also require divisions of labor and forms of social reproduction (and social death) that are profoundly gendered and racialized in ways that exceed the dominant form of political antagonism.

Read full article by Prof. Neferti X. M. Tadiar

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from http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/laurie-penny-thats-enough-politeness–women-need-to-rise-up-in-anger-7544480.html

Laurie Penny: That’s enough politeness – women need to rise up in anger

A huge cultural change is taking place all over the world right now. Over the past year, from the Arab Spring uprisings to the global anti-corporate occupations, young people and workers have realised that they were flogged a false dream of prosperity in return for quiet obedience, exhausting, precarious jobs and perpetual debt – most of it shouldered by women, whose low-status, low-paid and unpaid work has driven the expansion of exploitative markets across the world. Equality, like prosperity, was supposed to trickle down, but not a lot can trickle down through a glass ceiling.

Women, like everyone else, have been duped. We have been persuaded over the past 50 years to settle for a bland, neoliberal vision of what liberation should mean. Life may have become a little easier in that time for white women who can afford to hire a nanny, but the rest of us have settled for a cheap, knock-off version of gender revolution. Instead of equality at work and in the home, we settled for “choice”, “flexibility” and an exciting array of badly paid part-time work to fit around childcare and chores. Instead of sexual liberation and reproductive freedom, we settled for mitigated rights to abortion and contraception that are constantly under attack, and a deeply misogynist culture that shames us if we’re not sexually attractive, dismisses us if we are, and blames us if we are raped or assaulted, as one in five of us will be in our lifetime.

Read full article here

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From http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/W/women/

Women and Mental Health A- Z

Mental health problems affect women and men equally, but some are more common among women. Abuse is often a factor in women’s mental health problems. Treatments need to be sensitive to and reflect gender differences.

The same numbers of women and men experience mental health problems overall, but some problems are more common in women than men, and vice versa.

Various social factors put women at greater risk of poor mental health than men. However, women’s readiness to talk about their feelings and their strong social networks can help protect their mental health.

Women as guardians of family health

However busy they are, it is important that women look after their mental health. Traditionally, women have tended to take on the responsibility of looking after the health of members of their family as well as themselves. For instance, women often shop for their family and influence what they eat or advise their family when they feel unwell. This role makes it particularly important that women understand how the choices we all make in everyday life can affect our mental health. 

Women as carers  

Most carers are women, whether they care for their children, partner, parents, other relatives or friends. Women carers are more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression than women in the general population. Three quarters of people who care for a person with a mental health problem are women and the average age of carers is 62 years.  

Read more

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Further Reading from SoR

Also be sure to check out the Revolutionary Lovers Guide and Women We Admire posts to celebrate IWD with Sisters of Resistance 🙂

Revolutionary Lovers Guide

This IWD make sure you are in healthy, equal and respectful relationships: https://sistersofresistance.wordpress.com/resources/sista-resista-library/revolutionary-lovers-guide/

Women We Admire

Wangari Maathai: https://sistersofresistance.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/women-we-admire-wangari-maathai-1940-2011/

Audre Lorde: https://sistersofresistance.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/women-we-admire-audre-lorde/

Grace Lee Boggs: https://sistersofresistance.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/women-we-admire-grace-lee-boggs/

Erykah Badu: https://sistersofresistance.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/women-we-admire-erykah-badu/

Cross Post: My Tram Experience – Nichole Black — December 3, 2011

Cross Post: My Tram Experience – Nichole Black

“You Are Doing Racism Wrong”

#MyTramExperience

Image

“You are doing racism wrong” – I think this has been the overwhelming British response to #MyTramExperience which was uploaded to Youtube this week. We denounced this woman emphatically; Croydon MP Gavin Barwell told The Voice “Frankly it is people like this woman that the country would be better off without” and journalist Piers Morgan tweeted that the woman should be deported, (what is with this archaic British territorialism?) The reality is the protesting was far more concerned about maintaining the British culture of – well, lets call it diplomacy shall we – than an allegiance to anti-racism.

Emma West was arrested. Order was restored. And we have congratulated ourselves on how civilised we are about these things. Might I remind you it is only just over forty years since Conservative MP Enoch Powell, (a member of the gang governing us now), gave his ‘River of Blood’ speech, in which he addressed the nation with the exact same message as the Croydon perpetrator above. The same year as the 1968 Immigration Act which essentially made this racism a part of government policy. Racism plays a more prominent role in our society than many of us are willing to accept.

The relentless commitment to the personification of racism – that is, conceptualising racism as a single person/action – makes it almost impossible to recognise the complex ways it informs our social reality. We – or you really – are apathetic about race/ism in this country. ‘My Tram Experience’ was trending worldwide. However when there were successive revelations of fraudulence and belligerence in the Mark Duggan case – the man whose murder was the catalyst of rioting across the country this summer – metropolitan police corruption was not trending.

I have not witnessed the same level of national outrage at the unjustifiable deaths of Black men in police custody; or that over the last six years in Haringey, for the 10300 job seekers there have been 352 vacancies1. People lets get serious. I am not impressed that we arrested a woman with visibly poor mental health for her racist ranting. This is all a part of state performance. Emma West was not doing racism right. Our government agencies have shown us there are more efficient and quite frankly less noisy ways of denigrating Black and Ethnic Minority citizens in Britain. Underemployment, housing overcrowding and incarceration have all been working fine so far. Perhaps we would turn our attention to these areas if we were not so caught up in racism through drama.

1. May 16 2011 – A Trade Union Congress analysis

Nichole Black

ORIGINAL POST: http://nicholeblack.com/blog/2011/11/30/you-are-doing-racism-wrong/

TWITTER: @iAmnicholeblack

Open Letter to Community Organizers and Activists – RSP — April 26, 2011

Open Letter to Community Organizers and Activists – RSP

As a follow-up to the Revolutionary Lovers Guide and our Letter to Male Activists, Sisters of Resistance is posting the open letter of Seattle-based community organiser Robin Suhyung Park detailing her experience with intimate partner violence and the lack of response from the Seattle activist community. We share it here as yet another reminder that the revolution begins at home, with ourselves, and how we treat each other.

“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” -Audre Lorde

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Robin Suhyung Park.  I am a 21 year old student, poet and organizer based in Seattle, Washington.   I have been a member of Sahngnoksoo, a Korean American organization, since 2009.  In the honor of vday, the Global Movement to End Violence Against Women and Girls, I write to you for 3 reasons:

1.    To break my silence; to make my experience known and real.
2.    To examine the heteropatriarchal values which undermine the strength of our communities.
3.        To formally ask what you have done in your community to hold perpetrators of violence accountable, and what you have done in your community to prevent intimate partner violence.

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