#FreeKesha

[TRIGGER WARNING: This post talks about violence against womyn. Exercise self-care, folks.]


The law fails womyn. We actively enable abusers.

We've known this for generations but 2K16 seems determined to drive it home.

Bill Cosby is suing. The Jian Ghomeshi trial is a fucking mess.  And now, we're trying to set Kesha free.

We need to #FreeKesha. We need to free all the Keshas, because girl is not alone.

 

But if enduring countless media interviews this year has taught me anything, it's that the average person does not understand abuser dynamics.

After I was raped

[Obvious trigger warning]

I think a lot about rape. But I rarely think about my own.

Thinking about rape is literally my job. I'm a sexual violence expert with a focus on public education. I spend my days, training people on how to prevent rape; talking to the media about better ways to talk about sexual violence; advocating for sexual assault survivors through the government and justice system; encouraging folks to build communities of accountability.

Most of my walking hours are spent thinking about rape in all its nuance and complexity.

But my own rape? Until recently, I had pushed it to the back of my brain or chucked in the pile of "Horribly traumatic things I've survived and never want to think about." 

I feel you in my bones

[CONTENT WARNING: This post is about gender-based violence. Please exercise self-care.]

There are things I lived through with my abuser that my soul has receded to the background in order to allow me to breathe, function and live a normal life.

There are things I have fought hard to keep only in blurs, because sharpening the edges would bring me to my knees.

But there are other moments so vivid in my memory that I know will remain in focus well into old age.

Now what?

So, your abuser just died. Holy shit, right? 

I'm here to tell you there is ZERO guide book on what to do next. And because so few people (if any) people talk about it, we're not even able to chat with each other and compare notes.

Now what?

What does freedom feel like?

My abuser just died.
My abuser just died.
My abuser just died.
My abuser just died.
My abuser just died.

I see the words. I say them. I write them.

But it does not compute. My brain does not absorb them.

Let's talk about the elephant

So, the past 10 months have been interesting, to say the least. 

I don't need to provide you with links because the words "Julie Lalonde" in Google and especially, "Julie Lalonde + RMC" bring up a stream of articles, clips, creepy blog posts and commentary on what happened (and what didn't happen) when I gave a series of briefings to the Royal Military College cadets on October 4, 2014.

The response was swift, intense and as of this writing, ongoing. 

I've never been contacted by more complete strangers in my entire life. My inbox was flooded, almost immediately, by allies, colleagues, internet randos, etc. Due to General Lawson's recent "Foot in mouth disease" comments, the issue has reignited so it is far from over.

This experience has taught me so much. 

Rape culture is a thing, guys.

I do have other hobbies, other than raging against the patriarchy.

I'm a big lover of making collages and as a result, people often give me old magazines, newspapers and anything funky they think I'd like to cut up and turn into something else.

In this case, I was given a huge stack of Chatelaine and McCall's magazines from the '70s. Some serious GEMS in those magazines. The magazines are all in mint shape and besides the LOL hairstyles and cringe worthy ads for unimaginably disgusting food products, I found this hard hitting piece of journalism. 

A 1971 Chatelaine article (that is several pages long) lamenting how rape myths make womyn vulnerable to sexual assault and as a result, allow perpetrators to live without consequence is important stuff. 

That we've been talking about the same old tropes and stereotypes for decades is proof that rape culture is not only alive and well, but has been for quite some time. 

(See scan of article below) 

Backlash & The Myth of Acceptance

I talk for a living.

I wear many hats in my day-to-day, but I get paid to talk and in particular, as a public educator. I visit communities, elementary schools, high schools, campuses, military bases, faith groups, various workplaces and everything in between to talk sexual violence, bystander intervention and community support.

I’ve worked in this field for over a decade.

In that time, I’ve given literally hundreds of workshops, lectures, presentations and spoken on panels.

I’m a busy bee.

There appears to be a lot of mythology around the work I do and in particular, the reception I get. There’s this idea that everywhere I go is a giant love-in.  Maybe it’s because my work is so visible in the media or because I have a lot of followers on Twitter or because I’ve won awards. Or maybe it’s part of some right-wing conspiracy that the world is super feminist and misandrist. Je ne sais pas.  

But as a result of this myth, every time I talk about the resistance and hate I face in my work, I get a lot of eye rolls with the assumption that

1- I'm lying

or

2- I’m conflating people disagreeing with me as harassment.

Let me be clear: I am met with resistance everywhere I go.

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