Tag Archives: Sexual Violence

Respond to the Dear Sister Anthology with Your Own Work!

The book trailer is finished! Take a look here for the video with an invitation to submit your own response to the Dear Sister Anthology in either word or clip!

Here are your options:

1. Write a piece for this website!  Submit a letter (no more than 1000 words) to dearsisteranthology@gmail.com.  You can use links, photos, poetry, or any creative nonfiction style to express hope and strength about survival.  The central focus is on hope, no re-telling of trauma, so be sure to center your work on what you would another survivor to know.

2. Submit a video response, or a creative work using film.  Use the tag on Vimeo or YouTube (Dear Sister) or if you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #DearSister.  Videos should be no longer than 1 minute and we encourage you to be as creative as possible!  Tell a story, share a poem, sing a song, express your hope, create a slideshow, explore animation or other film artistry to tell your uplifting message.

Other ways to support the anthology:

-Buy the book!  Gift it to yourself, a friend, a stranger.  Leave it in coffee shops, waiting areas of gas stations, dentist offices, or on a park bench.  Donate it to local coalitions, non profits, your local library.  Circulatethe work and make sure it gets to the places where it needs to go.  It’s available at AK Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

-Give it a review! (We’re sure it’ll be a great one, of course 🙂 ) Go on Amazon, GoodReads, or Barnes and Noble and rate it with comments.  Tell others how it was helpful and why they should read it.

-Use it in book clubs!  April is sexual assault awareness month, but you don’t need a specific time to talk about issues of power, relationships, healing, and justice.  The editor of the anthology, Lisa Factora-Borchers, can also SKYPE into one of your meetings to talk about the genesis of the project and contribute to your group discussion.

-Circulate the news on social media!  Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Four Square to spread the news about this collection.  Got a blog?  Write a review of the book, or tell people what you think about it.  Write an Op-Ed for your local paper about what you think the community needs to do to better address issues of healing and safety for survivors in your community.

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A Guide for Writers: How to Write About Sexual Violence; Reaction to “Mellie’s Rape” on Scandal

For Writers Who Write about SV

It was horribly done.

Last night’s handling of sexual violence.  Scandal writers “explaining” the history of Fitz and Mellie’s marriage, how Mellie came to be how she is now.  The writers took us back 15 years ago and gives evidence of how Mellie came to be the kind of First Lady that she is.

There are many ways to interpret the script and delivery, but how I took it in and how I’m seeing the aftermath on social media is troubling.

First, there was no trigger warning whatsoever.  I guess after so many years of editing the anthology about sexual violence, I knew it was coming.  The scene opened with a drunk father in law, power obsessed, in a dimly fireplace lit den with a young, bright eyed “asset” of a wife, Mellie.  My writing brain scans the scene in seconds.  My first thoughts rushed forward to predict what was going to happen.  Flash thoughts were:

1. Why is this scene going to be important? There are no mistakes in television.  Every second counts toward the story line.  Scandal doesn’t do subtle.

2. What would mainstream writers do to try and bring sympathy for a female shark character?

3. Why do I feel like something horrible is about to happen?

I was right.  They wrote a rape scene into Scandal last night and it was terribly done.

The next morning when Mellie smiles and says she will never mention it again, she then wields the familial and political gavel from Jerry’s grip and the story moves onto her pregnancy.

As much as I suspected Mellie’s rape, it still bothered me, all the way up until I fell asleep.  Eyes woke up this morning still troubled by the way it was handled.  Perhaps it’s triggering for all of us – survivors and allies alike – to have visuals of rape so suddenly thrust into our homes.  A violence so strangely normalized in media and yet so profoundly sickening when it echoes in our living room, a mere few feet from our sleeping children.

What has the narration of rape become?  How is being so callously and nonchalantly written about, show in the beloved characters of stories that circulate every watercooler conversation the next morning, “Can you believe last night’s episode?” and thus unfolds more notions and missed opportunities to deconstruct the cultural problems that bolster sexual violence and rape.

Writers are responsible for their creative power.  And just as we do do research in fields before we write details about the who what when and why — we should have standards that evoke sensitivity and tact when writing about this issue.  Here is a brief guide for writers out in the world contemplating writing sexual violence into their story.

And, please Scandal writers – USE TRIGGER WARNINGS.

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What Is There Left to Say About Rape? Ask Survivors.

Many times I crawled to my computer, trying to formulate words about reports of rape and sexual violence in 2012.  Each time I found my through-line of how I wanted to write it, a new headline caught my eye.  First it was the high school rape story from my home state of Ohio, the Steubenville football rape case, located just a few hours north of me.

Then it was the gang rape of a young woman in Delhi, India.  Then it was the news of her death.

What is there to say about rape that hasn’t already been said?

What moronic statements are left to utter about how women’s bodies have a way to “shut that whole thing” down?  Or how rape is comparable to having a child out of wedlock?  And these are just the national headlines.

One thing I am certain is that most rape survivors do not turn on the news to understand rape culture, they need only look at their own lives, their own communities.

What is there to say about rape that hasn’t already been said?

How many US-centric statements are there to make about India’s uproar, as if the United States stands at a pristine pulpit to judge?

The only thing left to say about rape has to come from survivors themselves.  And that was the Dear Sister Anthology does. It gives the first and last say, it gives what is not often ignored: the voices and stories of the survivors who want to share their stories with other survivors and the world.

I had a whole blog post planned, a gathering of thoughts about all the sickness of rape, the harrowing world we live in that teaches our young children to accept despicable violence, but I don’t think the world/internet/readers need that.  You don’t need to hear more of the same.  You need to hear from survivors.

Wait for the Dear Sister Anthology (Fall/Winter 2013, AK Press) and hear from them yourselves.

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