Ten years ago when I was raped, I never could have predicted one of the six-character hashtag will come to symbolise – at least in the media – world survivors of sexual abuse and misconduct. But #MeToo is apparently the trend, news about rape now “topical”, even though this crime occurred over all of human history. Even a year after the start of the so-called #MeToo age, how can we conclude from all what has emerged since Harvey Weinstein scandal first break?
‘I fell between the cracks’: author Winnie M me on how rape is failed by the system
Certainly, the granting of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad places the issue of sexual violence in the forefront on the international scene. I salute honoring all of the heirs (Murad) and the confrontation the doctor (Denis Mukwege) in drawing attention to the tremendous impact of rape as a war crime. But the light here is clear on sexual violence in times of conflict, in war-torn countries. Rape and sexual assault affects many lives in peace and prosperity in societies, and these particular injuries are insidious, often because they remain hidden even and normal.
Survivors like to find the continuation of the #MeToo media coverage of both health and emotionally exhausting. But a lot of this general conversation is missing an important trick: in a strong focus on criminal justice issues – from the he said, she said: – we ignore the long-term cumulative effect of these crimes inflict on the victims ‘ lives: individuals whose voices and stories form the heart of the #MeToo motion.
The media constantly frame the sexual misconduct and the story of crime and punishment: you will be arrested on this board, or receive a suitable penalty? Is he actually the perpetrator or that the alleged victim is just making everything? My rape in Belfast in 2008, heavily reported in the local media, but all centered around the developing news that my rapist at large, and then arrested, and eventually convicted. There was little mention of the victim, anonymous “Chinese tourist” – the implication being that I would probably live the rest of my life in the silence of shame and misery.
Even in 2018, this obsession with the criminal justice continues. Republican senators in Brett Cavanaugh Sessions obsess over why Christine Blasey Ford had offered her the alleged sexual assault to the police at that time. In the UK, recent reports that the prosecution had urged the development of “weak” cases of rape is unlikely to lead to a conviction continue to intertwine the issue of sexual trauma with the public perception of crime and punishment.
Let’s step away from the obsession with criminal justice, the value of this survivor story on its own merit: as revelations of individuals whose lives had been negative – often indelibly – affected by sexual trauma. Full lived experience of the victims appear only rarely in the media only as evidence to prove the criminal character of the man. Dr. Ford said Kavan alleged assault affected her life for many years, so much so that it came after 30 years in the therapy sessions. But we will not consider his honesty, or even know who she is – if not a Donald Trump nomination Cavan to the United States Supreme Court. Per Dr. Ford, there are thousands of teenage girls sexually assaulted at drunk parties who grow up to bear the burden of these individual traumas that we will never know.
Sexual assault brings with it post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, shatter self-confidence. It can cause years of flashbacks and nightmares of the decades of tight life, he lived in a way to avoid panic attacks and more anxiety. Work and academic performance to poor career paths permanently change financial cooperation, as do our relationships with others. We lose friends and family in the aftermath of the rape, and may have long-term difficulties of romantic love and sex. As a result, some of us may never find partners or families. Or in state and family relations often carry the imprint of previous trauma and anxiety.
This does not mean that recovery is impossible, but the victim’s life will never be the same. It takes years and even decades, one of the survivors to feel recovered. If we consider the indelible impact of this crime on the lives of individuals, and if we compound the number of affected live more of the population, obviously, sexual violence is not just a criminal justice concern: it is on public health. After the rape was three years ago and was working again five years before I can consider myself all come and 10 years later still living with the consequences of what that one person. If one out of every five women experiences sexual violence, how many years how many other spirits, has been spent in trying to recover from sexual assault, instead of living the life we intended?
In the wake of #MeToo, you must recast the way we think about sexual violence. It’s not just about criminal justice, or rape as a war crime. Of course it is important to hold perpetrators accountable. But this is just one side of the equation. Sexual violence is also about public health. There are millions of survivors of sexual violence in the UK alone – a large expanse of our society. Let’s consider all the resources that you need to go towards helping the victims rebuild their lives, so instead of shrinking, depleted, these lives can be restored to their full potential.
Dark chapter of Winnie M Li review – defying novel of personal trauma
We can measure the health of the community, how honest empathy and understanding we can be with each other. If we can’t talk publicly about the crimes that have hurt us, then society as a whole suffers.
#MeToo freedom does not exist without the efforts of many of the survivors, and perform emotionally draining work without pay from the college and the state. How much more productive would we be as a society if a lot of her energy must be spent to fight the injustice of sexual violence?
If there’s one thing #MeToo can be done besides raising the level of العواreness on the prevalence of the impact of sexual trauma, whether in war-torn or peaceful societies, is to improve the systems and institutions of society as a whole can reduce the burden on individuals, survivors from the beginning to address the reality of these crimes.
• Winnie M Li is the author, producer and activist. Her first novel, dark chapter, for the assassination she won the Guardian’s not the Booker Prize in 2017
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