Abuse Is No Excuse

A young teen girl lies face down on a bed with her face half-turned to the camera. Her head is cradled in her crossed arms
Girl Lying On Bed by _Mxsh_

I was 14 when I was raped

I was alone, frightened; had nowhere to turn to

It was the 80s. The law didn’t even recognise people like me could be raped and in no small part because the law refused to accept that people like me existed

I had been abused for years prior to that point, would be abused for years more, and that in turn cut off several other possible avenues of support for me

I was 14 when I was raped and I was alone, frightened, and had nowhere to turn

31 years later I still remember how I felt; the sheer horror and numb despair inside me, how it tasted whenever I tried to eat

A woman with black eye makeup that’s run holding a sheet of paper against her lower face. There’s a crude smile drawn on it
by Sydney Sims

And above all else the terror I lived in knowing I would be seeing again, and again, and again the person who raped me because this was a peer-on-peer assault and there was no way out of seeing them; knowing I’d have to paint on a smile and pretend nothing had happened, become complicit in my own abuse

Well, that’s not quite true. There was one way out. Two weeks later would be the first time I tried to kill myself

It didn’t take

I added the failure to the list of other failures I was convinced I was because of the abuse I was living with, tallied it alongside the growing awareness inside that I deserved to be raped, that I’d somehow led him on even though I hadn’t done anything. I mean, I must have done, right? It was my fault. Of course it was my fault. It was the only possible way to explain how the abuse that was happening to me could be happening. There had to be a good reason and the only good reason was that I was an abomination that deserved it

Because that’s the thing about abuse of any kind. It can make you believe that you deserve it; that it’s all justified

It took me a very long time to crawl out from that mindset. A very long time to learn that this is how abusers work; how they operate. They find all the ways to get in your head; to convince you that what’s happening isn’t just normal but also right. That, frankly, you deserve it

Rape isn’t about sex — It’s about power. I know there are a lot of people who struggle with that concept. What can be meant by rape not being about sex. Surely that is exactly what it’s about?

A teenage girl holding herself She has black handmarks on her shoulders and around her neck She looks scared and without hope
‘All I could do was whisper. “I’m fine”’ by Sydney Sims

No, forced unconsenting sex is the tool. It’s the fact that it’s forced — unconsented to — that’s the point of it, what the abuser is after. Every form of abuse — at its heart — is about the same thing; stripping away the ability of the person being abused to make a choice. It’s about stripping away their dignity, their autonomy, their power

Rape is about power. All abuse is about power

It is the act of stripping away the autonomy and dignity of another that is the act of abuse —

— and it’s why Rowling’s latest ad hoc attempt at trying to justify the unjustifiable is abusive

Her writing is filled with all the standard lies and deceptions that trans people have come to expect from transphobes and so-called trans exclusionary radical feminists (who, despite Rowling’s claims, were named that by other radical feminists, notably by radical feminists of colour)

Her writing is filled with attempted justification after attempted justification about why it’s okay to strip away the dignity of trans people; to strip away from us the simple dignity of being recognised as just the women and men we say we are

Her writing is filled with attempted justification after attempted justification about why it’s okay to strip away the autonomy of trans people; to strip away from us the simple ability to say that we are who we are — that we are women, or that we are men — and instead tries to justify forcing onto us that we must be only what another with power over us allows us to be

Her writing is filled with attempted justification after attempted justification about why it’s okay to strip away the dignity of non-binary people; to remove from non-binary people the simple dignity of being recognised at all; and from that very act of depersonalisation; that act of saying that non-binary people don’t even exist that she attempts to justify ripping away the most basic aspect of autonomy that any person has — the right to exist

And underneath it all she attempts to pin her arguments together based on her own personal experiences of domestic abuse and sexual assault

An teenage woman standing in profile to the camera looking down with eyes closed and her hands clasped over her mouth
by Vince Fleming

I grieve for what she’s been through. I know first hand that pain; the terror, the fear, the absolute despair and feeling of being so trapped there’s no way out except death and even then that does not always offer a way out. I truly grieve for the things she’s been forced to live through

But I will not stand by and allow her to try and use that as a weapon to leverage abuse against others without speaking out

Abuse is no excuse

To engage in an act of abuse — to engage in acts that attempt to strip the dignity and autonomy of others — is to engage in an act of abuse. There is no ‘if’ about it; no ‘but’; no ‘maybe’. It’s abuse and it cannot be justified —

— ever

An teenage woman with her hand pointing palm up straight at the camera so it obscures her face
by Philipp Wüthrich

And to attempt to justify it with your own experiences of being abused is to do nothing more than to continue the cycle of abuse. It is to engage in an act that uses the experiences of abuse of others to try and justify your own act of abuse. And it is an act that diminishes each and every single one of us that have survived abuse

Those of us who have lived through abuse and have survived to the other side know full well what it did to us, the cost it demanded of us just to simply survive. So many of us didn’t make it this far; didn’t get the chance to survive, were murdered at the hands of their partner, or peer, or parent, or driven to taking their own life because of the same

We survived. And we should — must — know better than to continue the cycle of abuse

I know my own past. I know what it did to me. I know the scars it’s left me with. But not a single one of those things is ever justification for me to abuse another

Never

Because at the heart of all of this there is one simple truth that we must all face

Abuse is not an excuse

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