*trigger warning – discussion of rape and other violence*
I have this idea. I’m not sure if it would work, or even be possible, but I’d like to try it out – sadly control groups and experimental groups are lacking.
A little background might help I guess, because what I’m asking for is people’s opinions and ideas as to whether my idea is feasible, whether they’ve seen anything else similar anywhere else, and overall whether I should push this as a form of community engagement.
I’m a member of a polyamorous community in Victoria (Australia). There has been a lot of discussion recently about how to ensure that the community remains safe and what (if any) role the committee of the incorporated organisation play in that. There is clearly a desire for clarity around the committee’s role and what the community can expect – but this isn’t the discussion I want here, this discussion is for my idea of creating a safer community.
If the leaders of a community (whether elected official leaders or other identified leaders) expressed clear opposition to unsafe behaviours and encouraged the community to openly and safely discuss how those unsafe behaviours have affected them personally (with no mention of perpetrators) in their lives, would that create a community were those who engaged in those behaviours would not feel welcome?
That’s nice and complicated, let me break it down to a specific example. If the committee/leaders stated that rape and other sexual crimes are behaviours that are not tolerated in the poly community, and the community was encouraged to have ongoing discussions regarding the effect that rape has had on their lives, without naming he perpetrator because this is the space for those who have experienced rape or other sex crimes, would those who believe that rape is no big deal have their minds changed, and would those who have raped or who will rape be less likely to remain in the community? Could a community be built that does not blame victims for the crimes against them but instead supports them and talks about the damage that silence and victim blaming causes?
We don’t talk about violence against others nearly often enough in the community spaces I inhabit. We do not express our distaste, our displeasure, our repulsion, our abhorrence against what is done by some to others. This culture of silence often means it is easy for people to be unaware of the extent of the harm that violence causes, and also how wide-spread some forms of violence are. If those of my community, who evidently felt safe to do so, stood up and told our stories of violence, those who don’t know would most likely be shocked at how common such things are. I’d want the leaders (elected or generally respected) to be very clear that no one invites crimes to be committed against them and that any form of victim blaming would not be tolerated.
I feel, in an ideal world, that this could work, that a community could start to talk about the harm that violence causes, and make it a very unwelcome environment for those individuals that participate in forms of violence against others – because their viewpoints that their behaviour is ok would be challenged by people who think it is not.
I’d love other opinions on this however.