Let’s Chat: Ignoring Community Input on Strategic Priorities for the OPS

On Saturday July 14th, I signed up to attend a community consultation on Strategic Priorities for the Ottawa Police Service for the coming years. I attended at the request of a friend, an anti-torture activist who is desperately trying to convince the police force to stop the new policy that would give a taser to every police officer in Ottawa.

I agreed to attend not just because she asked me too, but also because for some time I’ve been thinking of ways to improve accessibility in Policing. Also, because I wanted to be a white face bringing up racism against people of colour.

Institutional Racism in the force is a problem that is starting to be talked about by more people not directly influenced by it, as it should, and is a major issue that needs MORE attention than it is currently getting. A related issue however is Institutional Ableism.

A recent review of fatal police interactions in Canada shows that most people killed by police are disabled. Something like 72% of those killed in police interactions were shown to be mentally ill or to have substance abuse problems, which is itself also considered a mental health issue.

In the US, 1 in 2 people killed by cops is disabled.

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Let’s Chat: Ignoring Community Input on Strategic Priorities for the OPS
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What Are the Chances?

CN: Discussion of Statistics in relations to disability, other social issues, sexual assault, and abuse.

There are times when I am talking to someone about my life- about the fact that I’m scared of new proposed laws making it harder for me to survive in Ontario, or about how I’m one particularly unlucky day away from being homeless – when I get the feeling like the person I’m talking to thinks I’m exaggerating. They get this look on their faces that makes it clear they’re just humoring me by not pointing out how ridiculous I’m being. Meanwhile, I’m already minimizing how severe my situation is out of fear of being accused of exaggerating. Worse still, my circumstances are relatively minor compared to that of many of my friends and readers. 

When they don’t automatically dismiss what I’m saying as being hyperbole, the people I speak with assume that my case is rare – an exception. A circumstance not worthy of planning against because it’s unlikely to happen again. And yet? Every day I meet someone new in the same type of situation I find myself in. It’s become so textbook, some people look at me as though I’m performing magic when I manage to guess the ridiculous circumstances they find themselves in or repeat almost verbatim what they’ve heard from doctors, therapists, or other people.

It’s a matter of framing, of perspective.

To someone in the mainstream, what is happening to me must be the result of either something I did wrong, or something extremely rare, or impossible. It seems like the probability of all the things going wrong that go wrong happening seem impossible.

What are the chances that every relationship you’ve been in is abusive?

What are the chances that so many of your doctors end up incompetent? That so many doctors end up holding biased opinions?

What are the chances that everyone around you is so terrible? Doesn’t it seem more likely that you are the problem? Statistically speaking that is?

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What Are the Chances?

Life After Domestic Violence

CN: description of r*pe, uncensored use of that word, domestic violence, violations of privacy, coercion.

Heed the content notice, while this post ends on a positive note, the bulk of it is tough and potentially triggering. Please take your time and take a break if you need to.

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Life After Domestic Violence

Quebec’s Bill 62 puts abuse victims at risk

If you’ve been following Canadian news at all, you might have heard about a new bill that passed in Quebec. Bill 62 which essentially mandates that you cannot access public services, including bus transportation, if your face is covered.

This is just the latest in a history of bills aimed at specifically targeting Muslim women, including the horrible Values Charter and many other suggestions. They parrot similar laws passed in France, also aimed at the increasing number of refugees from Islamic countries.

The bill is racist, plain and simple. It is legislative legitimization of said racism, giving bigots a convenient cover for discriminating against brown people. Yes, Islam is a religion, but the social perception of “Muslim” is of someone with darker skin. Additionally, there is a tendency to presume that all brown people are Muslim. Many Sikh people and Indian people of various faiths have faced discrimination in Canada and the US, with a strong implication that the bigot in question assumes them to be Islamic.

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Quebec’s Bill 62 puts abuse victims at risk

Gender Stereotypes & Abuse

CN: gender stereotypes, abuse, SA, fat phobia, victim blaming/shaming, size shaming, r*pe apologia, uncensored use of the word r*pe, toxic masculinity, ableism

“Is he bigger than you?”, is usually the first question people ask after finding out I’m a victim of domestic violence. They tell me I couldn’t have been abused because I’m bigger than my abuser. They said I could have fought him off. I’m not believed because I’m not petite or thin.

To these people, victims aren’t supposed to look physically strong. To them, violence is always physical.
I tried fighting back but it angered him. So much so he left me with a fat lip. Afterwards he wouldn’t let me leave the house until the bruise healed. So I did everything I could to avoid the beatings. But as any victim of domestic violence knows, that isn’t always possible.

I’ve been told that I couldn’t have been raped because I should have been able to fight him off. If I didn’t fight him off then I must have wanted it. This type of reasoning is victim blaming. Whether they meant to or not, these people are saying that since I didn’t fight hard enough I deserved what happened. They’re saying there is such a thing as “true rape”.

This type of thinking is fat phobic and size shaming because you’re saying that because of my size, I should have never been a victim. Except, as previously stated violence isn’t always physical. He made me afraid by various means. This type of thinking is ableist as well because I am physically disabled and fighting him or anyone off would be impossible. It is also transmysoginistic because I am about as tall as most men and fat so I’m not seen as feminine enough. Then of course, there’s the sexism of “you’re too ugly to fuck”. Forgetting that rape is never about sex, but about power, this trope suggests that rapists rape because they were physically attracted to their victims. This trope goes as far as to suggest that fat women should be grateful they even got the attention.

Now, think about the media you consume.  Think of the Henpecked Husband and Tiny Guy, Huge Girl tropes. Why is the idea of a “domineering” woman, usually taller than her husband funny? It’s because men are supposed to be in charge. Size is thought to be in direct relation to strength and men have to be strong, otherwise he isn’t a man.  Women are supposed to be small and meek.  Are you getting the picture?

These tropes exist because we live in a patriarchal society which values toxic masculinity and enforces a strict and rigid gender binary. And so, I will continue to get these questions. And I will continue to ask these people why they think I deserve abuse. Hopefully that way they’ll understand that what they’re doing is revictimizing me. At the very least, I’ll enjoy their faces as they try to justify my abuse to my face.

Gender Stereotypes & Abuse

Melania, Splash Damage and Domestic Violence Myths

 

CN: uncensored used of the word r*pe, dv myths

I believe Melania is a victim of domestic violence (DV). Not just from seeing how she acts, but based on her husband’s history. If you don’t want to show her any pity or sympathy, that’s fine. That’s your right. But please remember that when you say she can easily leave, or that she deserves it you’re hurting me and other survivors of DV. That’s called splash damage.

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Melania, Splash Damage and Domestic Violence Myths

Ethics in Outing Abusers

CN: SA, r*pe, victim shaming

Sharing screenshots where an abuser admits to abuse isn’t morally the same as abusing someone. Sharing screenshots where an abuser admits to abuse isn’t morally the same as abusing someone.

Sharing screenshots where an abuser admits to abuse isn’t morally the same as abusing someone.

I cannot believe I have to say this. I said it last year during the Phoenix Drake fiasco and again, this year around the same time as well, concerning Dan Linford.

In both cases before any screenshots were available some people, mostly men, asked “where’s the evidence?”. Never minding the fact that both Phoenix Drake and Dan Linford admitted to rape. Never minding the fact that several people in both cases came forward with their own stories about these two.

But this post isn’t about not believing victims. Which honestly I could write a post about. No, this post is about the ethics in sharing screenshots. I’m writing this because, frankly, I am sick to death of having people not believe victims only to then shame them when they DO provide evidence. Why do they get shamed? Because apparently since both Phoenix Drake and Dan Linford confessed in private messages, they both have an ethical right to privacy.

This is where I call bullshit. If they had confessed to a mandated reporter, that person BY LAW would have to notify the authorities. This is no different. In both cases, confessions were made and the people who heard these confessions did the ethical thing and warned others. As you read in both articles linked above, these men infiltrated groups with vulnerable people, several times. This is important. They were able to do so because there hadn’t been a way for their previous victims to warn others.

But it stops here. This is how women and non-binary people protect ourselves.

Phoenix Drake and Dan Linford didn’t confess to eating too much chocolate and feeling bad about it. They confessed to rape. In both cases, they made excuses, they minimized what they did to their victims. They weren’t sorry for what they did (if they were, they would have turned themselves in, they wouldn’t have made excuses, they wouldn’t have confessed to women and NB folks and used them as emotional labor). They certainly didn’t show any ethics in their behavior.

Once someone shows themselves to be abusive they lose any right to privacy. There is no moral equivalence here. The unethical thing to do in this case would be to keep the confession to yourself. Rapists lose any right to privacy the minute they demonstrate they’re a danger to others. Indeed, it is because of this privacy that they felt confident and comfortable enough to be able to abuse again and again. (As an aside: Dan teaches philosophy and ethics. Let that bit of irony set in)

Phoenix Drake and Dan Linford will not and cannot get away with this. We will not let them. We’re tired of being abused, we’re tired of being gaslit. We’re tired of giving our trust to people unworthy of it. We don’t have many ways to defend ourselves, but we have this. I will be damned if anyone is going to guilt us for doing what we need to in order to protect ourselves.

Ethics in Outing Abusers

Bad Advice

TW: domestic violence, r*pe, abuse

Every time I come across a story about domestic violence there are always the well-meaning, but horribly misguided folks commenting on how to avoid becoming a victim. In this post I highlight some I’ve seen today and explain why this advice is not only wrong but potentially fatal.

1) “get a gun”, I assure you my abuser would have used it on me. I wouldn’t have been able to “hide it sum place your man won’t see” because I was a literal prisoner in his home. Good luck me trying to hide anything. I tried. I wasn’t even hiding a weapon. I was hiding a picture of my best friend because I wasn’t allowed friends. He had a knife he used to threatened me with. A gun in the house would have ended with me dead.

-“Report it to the authorities and then leave the state”- Cops don’t take this shit seriously, and how exactly is a victim of domestic violence supposed to just up and move when she’s more than likely completely dependent on the abuser. He made it so precisely so she can’t leave. Good luck trying to leave if you have children with your abuser too.

– “if you had watched him closely you would have noticed the red flags”- yes, because abusers upon meeting their future victims introduce themselves as “hi, I will eventually change my personality once I know I have you and then I will beat/rape/torture you. Is this ok with you?”. Like you people really think we just go into this shit knowing?

And yeah, ok. Let’s see, little girls are socialized from birth to never speak up, to never say no, if a boy pulls our hair that just means “he likes you”. That jealousy just means he cares. So after a lifetime of all these messages you expect us to just be able to leave? You made us into easy targets and then scold us for not knowing how to respond.

Tats-Just-How-Boys-Are

If we are lucky enough to leave, we get asked, “why couldn’t you work it out?”, “I’m sure it wasn’t all bad”, “he seemed like such a great guy”, “but aren’t you worried about not having a father for your baby?”, “you’re so selfish”, “you probably did something to deserve it”. Either way, the blame always lands on the victim. I’m tired of it.

This is by no means a complete list. These are the ones I saw today. I’ll probably add more to this as time goes on.
What bad advice have you received after leaving your abusive partner?

Bad Advice