I was given a highly sanitized version of justice in my upbringing–cops catch “bad guys,” and only the “guilty” are convicted for prison–and sadly despite the mounting evidence that neither of these pillars is true, it’s still a relatively common response to the law system. When I finally found myself in the crosshairs of behaviour that is arguably criminal as defined by the law system I am bound to, I did not relish the notion of my abuser being jailed. There was no inherent satisfaction to me in that outcome. She would either be hurt by someone else (which is not what I want) or she would hurt someone else who was imprisoned (which I don’t consider acceptable either). So what does justice look like for people like us?
Punishment and revenge will not heal the harm that has been done to me. It will not take away the pain, nor will it make me feel better about myself when I look in the mirror. But putting forward a system that advocates for a radical shift in our culture, in our way of surviving and handling these atrocities and collectively preventing them, will.
I don’t want temporary healing. I don’t want a fleeting safety.
I genuinely don’t blame anyone for wanting those who have harmed and violated them or someone they love in a jail cell or even dead. That’s what we’ve been fed and told is the only appropriate way to deal with perpetrators of violence, enablers of patriarchy, and even non-violent forms of deviance. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that prisons do not, will not, and cannot protect us. Prisons have never made me feel safe.
My violator(s) did not spend a minute in a cell for what they did to me. I never came forward. I don’t regret that, but I do regret not making it known how they violated me. I regret going through the process of healing alone, which is something I’m still working through as I type this.
If I could go back in time and do things differently, I still to this day would not put my violator(s) in a jail cell. But what I would have wanted was a community, or even a single person, to show me a love that was sincere and much more nuanced than simply regurgitating the hatred I should feel toward my violator(s) and wanting them dead. A community that works toward protection and prevention, where survivors don’t feel it’s their sole responsibility to survive, heal, and search for a nearly non-existent justice for not only themselves but others who have been harmed.
Read more by Joshua Briond here.