Content warning: discussion of sexual assault and abuse
Disclaimer: We do not speak for all survivors on this campus.
An open letter to Hampshire’s student body:
The administration makes this campus unsafe for survivors, and many of you do too. This is a call out, not in, for people who maintain relationships with abusers for any reason. It is also a demand for prioritizing the well-being of survivors. This is for all the people who are involved, consider themselves feminists, generally decent people, who continue to maintain relationships, and people who call themselves “radical.” You do not support us. You are not a feminist. You are not radical. By being friends with or maintaining relationships with abusers, you are perpetuating a culture that promotes violence. This is especially for people who are friends with those who don’t fit what many imagine an abuser to look like—“sad boys,” non-cis men, etc. and for those who don’t factor in how white supremacy and racism affect what it means to be a survivor.
If you hide behind anonymity to air support for abusers or the silencing of survivors, you should be ashamed of your behavior. When you find yourself in a bathroom stall scrawling, “go see a therapist,” instead think about why we aren’t seeing therapists in the first place. Claiming neutrality is equally as bad. There is no such thing as neutrality. If you don’t actively fight against this, you are complicit in continual violence. If you claim support for survivors, but maintain relationships with known abusers you are complicit. If you were friends with an abuser until they were expelled because of a Title IX investigation and turn to the survivor feigning friendship and kindness, you are complicit.
Continuing to hide behind a mask of anonymity because you feel unsafe expressing your feelings out loud is funny. It’s funny because the thing that makes you feel safest is writing something online or on the wall of a bathroom stall. It’s funny because the things that make us feel safe on this campus are the other survivors with whom we cannot seem to interact with without being seen as “vengeful” or a “liability.” To those who tell us we’re a liability, just remember that many of these abusive behaviors happened on this campus. This campus made us a liability. This “community” made us a liability. We have been called vigilantes, accused of “conspiring” against sexual predators, we have been told to be quiet or face probation for “retaliation.”
Stop being more concerned about protecting abusers than the well-being of survivors. Stop being more concerned about us outing abusers for the safety of survivors and the campus. Stop trying to get us to out ourselves, and understand that it could be potentially dangerous or incredibly harmful to do so. Stop telling us that “you’re sorry,” or, “they were a terrible person;” we know. Our trauma does not end when our abuser leaves campus, because sometimes that’s not even where it started. Not only does this school need to do something about its sexual assault problem, it needs to do something to help the survivors who are left on this campus without any support.
For all of our fellow survivors reading this, we believe you, we love you, and we are here to support you.