I’ve been somewhat open on this blag about my experiences with abuse, and yet I was hesitant to add my voice to the #MeToo hashtag started on Twitter. It was proposed in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations as a way to “get people to see the gravity of the problem”–yet, the ways in which the conversation were carried out led me to believe I would be met with more hostility than support.
“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
My trans and trans-friendly connections started to throw up alternatives to this original copy&paste meme: “women and non binary people” was one alternative, “women and femmes” another, as people struggled to include the complexity of how gendered violence impacts our diverse world. What was less surprising, perhaps, was how many of my trans friends could say #MeToo: Statistically, trans people, whether men, women or non-binary, are at greater risk of sexual violence as children than cis women, and this extra vulnerability continues into adult lives. Lesbians and gay men also experience more sexual violence than their straight counterparts, and bi people even more than lesbian and gay men.
There’s a reason this is not often talked about. For years, we have been told, without foundation, that somehow abuse turned us queer. The truth is a mirror image of this – queer/trans kids tend to be more easily isolated and have more strained relationships with caregivers. This creates conditions where they are more easily preyed upon. Social exclusion continues to mark out LGBTQ+ people as targets into adult life, and fear of being outed can also give abusers a hold, particularly for people from certain families or communities that hold hostile attitudes to LGBTQ+ people. In a world that was not sexist, cissexist and heteronormative, they would be as accepted and socially included as everyone else, and they would not carry this additional vulnerability.
We see similar themes of elevated levels of abuse within other vulnerable groups – autistic people, disabled people, people who grew up in care, to name but a few.
It was only after my abuser had attempted to burn bridges with a well-respected cis man in the community that people began to believe the trail of allegations that followed her. That’s… hard to forgive.
Read more here.