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Coping with reports of attacks on women and girls

(27 Posts)
NoLoveofMine Thu 05-Oct-17 21:43:59

Apologies for this message being badly articulated - I expect it will be as I'm not sure I can phrase it well.

I am continually enraged by attacks on women and girls. I find it difficult to know how to deal with this as I don't feel I can talk to friends about it (it's a difficult thing to keep discussing with them and I know it can't be easy for them if I keep sending them reports I've read of them to discuss). I've started threads about some on here but I can't keep doing that every time either; I'd be starting endless threads. Every time I read one, though, I can't stop thinking about the attack in question for a long time, the place it happened, what the woman or girl is going through, the chances of the attacker being found - if they're not that they're still out there, if they are the paltry sentences if convicted whilst the victim is affected for life, that, not to appropriate any suffering, they're attacks on all women and girls. I become angry that people don't see what an epidemic male violence against women and girls is, that people go on as if nothing happened, the lives altered and often ruined forever not worthy of much reporting nor any naming the major issue of this violence.

I think of myself and that no matter what I do, there are always men and boys out there who have such contempt for me for no other reason than I'm female, that I could be subject to such an attack at any time, that this would be my worth to them, that to society I'd be just another victim as everything carries on as if nothing happened. Every time I'm harassed on the street it reminds me of my worth, my value, that nothing I ever do will surpass this reminder of what I'm viewed as due to being female. My thoughts, ambitions, feelings are nothing to many men - they don't see or care about them. Sorry to make this sound self-centred, I don't mean it to. I also look at younger girls at school, particularly new Year 7s, see their enthusiasm and happiness, all their thoughts and confidence which comes through in the ones I interact with, they're so lovely to talk to and I become enraged at the misogyny they will face, not just the risk of male violence (although that is what brought me to feminism in the first place) but all the misogyny which for many of them may well dent their confidence, bring them down, upset them, gnaw away at them eroding their self-esteem as they grow up (of course this won't happen to all, just some of my feelings when I think about these things). I also confess to being sometimes envious of my brothers, I am very close to them and always have been but just knowing they will never know or experience so much which girls even of their age already have done (not that I'd want them to, just trying to articulate what I feel).

Anyway, sorry this was so long and rambling - I didn't intend to go on and expand my own topic like this. I got to this point and thought I shouldn't post this but I'd written all this so may as well. I've vented at least even if there's nothing anyone can say on it, was just wondering how women on here might advise coping with all this. Sorry it's so self-centred too, I don't mean it to be, I feel this rage because of all women and girls especially those who have suffered and will suffer male violence.

DJBaggySmalls Thu 05-Oct-17 21:56:49

Your reaction is normal IMO. You will probably find after a few years of it that your senses are dulled by the relentless onslaught of reports, and you wont think about it for so long afterwards. I dont know if this is any better or not.
I'm on high alert at the moment, we had a bad weekend on my street, and he's back today throwing his weight around. I'm listening to loud music on headphones, so that I cant hear him.
I cant talk about it. So I cant vent. Do try to find an outlet that doesn't involve talking to other women in an angry way. Type it out and delete it if you dont have anything else.

NoLoveofMine Thu 05-Oct-17 22:03:49

Your reaction is normal IMO. You will probably find after a few years of it that your senses are dulled by the relentless onslaught of reports, and you wont think about it for so long afterwards. I dont know if this is any better or not.

I know what you mean with the final sentence - sometimes I wish I could stop thinking about them and particular attacks, but then I wonder if that's part of what angers me so much, that so many seem to not think about them. Also feeling guilty for not doing so or not being as affected as those who suffer them have no choice but to be.

Sorry to read of your bad weekend and that this man is back on the street. I hope the music is helping in some way and that he will be gone soon. Thank you for your kind advice (now and in previous threads).

theendisnotnigh Thu 05-Oct-17 22:04:01

NoLoveofMine
I think you articulate so well what women feel. And it's because of one of our collective great strengths, the ability to empathise, I don't think you ever get over it. Sometimes I just have to walk away - switch off and protect myself. There's nothing wrong with doing that.
I don't mean to sound unfeeling, but it's just not possible to take on the troubles of the world. And our 24 hour rolling news world that we live in means that the misery can seem to be all around you. When I was your age (sorry - dreadful phrase blush ) the news was on tv / radio a couple of times a day and that was it. You might read the newspaper but we were very 'protected' in the sense that I could be totally unaware of world events for most of a day or longer.
The one thing I have tried to do is to channel my anger into action - so working with women who have been assaulted, being part of feminist groups and choosing a career where I felt I could 'give back'.
It seems all that I can do.

NoLoveofMine Thu 05-Oct-17 22:05:21

Do try to find an outlet that doesn't involve talking to other women in an angry way.

I hope I don't come across like that all the time, I very much don't try to talk to women in angry ways. Sometimes I've been particularly affected at a certain time and posted in an angry manner but try to make constructive posts.

theendisnotnigh Thu 05-Oct-17 22:08:27

And sorry, I failed to acknowledge what you say about the specifics of misogyny and hatred of women. In a strange way I found working with children / teenagers helpful as the vulnerability of adolescent boys constantly reminded me that they don't start out as misogynists.

NoLoveofMine Thu 05-Oct-17 22:09:05

Thank you theendisnotnigh (an apt username for your positive advice as well)! I know you're right about not being able to take on the troubles of the world and am very much aware of this, I suppose it's something else which makes me feel angry and powerless about violence against women and girls.

The one thing I have tried to do is to channel my anger into action - so working with women who have been assaulted, being part of feminist groups and choosing a career where I felt I could 'give back'.

It's fantastic you do this and make such a positive difference. I definitely hope to be able to do something constructive in this way and help other women and girls if I can. There's no point letting the anger build up but not channelling it into something positive.

theendisnotnigh Thu 05-Oct-17 22:18:27

I suspect that you'll make a huge contribution NoLove, judging by the lovely manner in which you post on here. We also have to give ourselves permission to switch off, to laugh and have fun.

It can feel very intense at times. I'm trying to write something 'political' at the moment and am really struggling with it. I can feel the anger and injustice but that's not helping me in writing something that's informative, rational and will win hearts and minds. I really just want to rant and shout expletives. Personally therapeutic but completely useless grin .

NoLoveofMine Thu 05-Oct-17 22:23:31

Thank you very much theendisnotnigh. I sometimes post in not so nice ways and have lashed out in posts but hopefully apologise if I do though do worry about it as I hugely value being able to post here, due to being able to discuss things with fantastic women such as yourself. It's definitely important to switch off although I do sometimes feel guilty when I have (it's part of why I sometimes feel angry when I've been out socialising - not at the time but when I get home, I think it's anger at myself for having been out enjoying myself when so many women and girls are denied that right due to male violence).

I definitely think there's a place for ranting and shouting expletives grin I'm sure you'll get there with your piece, though; hopefully you have time to get away from it as well and it'll be very satisfying and constructive when written!

DJBaggySmalls Thu 05-Oct-17 22:53:41

NoLoveofMine,
sorry, no I didnt mean you come across as angry. Far from it, I think your posts are articulate and intelligent. I think you're going places.

NoLoveofMine Thu 05-Oct-17 22:56:02

Thank you very much for saying so DJ! It's very much appreciated and heartening to read that.

QuentinSummers Fri 06-Oct-17 10:07:14

Awww nolove flowers flowers
Do you have anxiety generally?
All I can say is 1) most men aren't rapists/sex offenders, most are decent, just some absolute knobs are out there. 2) I've been assaulted (not raped) and while it was horrible and has affected my it hasn't ruined my life. It's not even the worst thing that's happened.
Hang in there, maybe try not to follow news of these kinds of things so closely. It's not all down to you to bear witness, you will be much more effective as a feminist if you look after and protect yourself.

NoLoveofMine Fri 06-Oct-17 10:17:40

Thank you Quentin flowers

I've never been told I have anxiety but then I've never suggested it to anyone nor mentioned any of this to my doctor (or anyone really). I do have it generally I suppose in being very aware of the risk of male violence and it always being in the back of my mind, thinking about it often and becoming quite consumed with these attacks.

I'm very glad your life hasn't been ruined by it and didn't want to suggest it would ruin every woman/girl's life, I hesitated about writing that but I have read of victim impact statements and pieces written by women who have suffered it who have said it has. Also, of course when a woman or girl is murdered by a man for no other reason than they're female, that does ruin their whole family's life and impact their friends hugely too.

Thank you - I suppose I should try not to read so much about things when I hear of an attack. I always Google them, read more articles about them and become quite consumed by them; I should try to stop but then I think the woman/girl it happened to has no choice and I find it difficult not to.

Datun Fri 06-Oct-17 10:18:14

nolove

I have little trouble responding to posts about male violence. I know what I think, and I know why I think it. It's fairly simple.

And then there's your post.

I'm sure I'm not the only woman here for whom it creates something of a maelstrom of unusually contradictory thoughts.

Your rage and anger about male violence, particularly as it has come so close to home for you, is instantly recognisable. It's normal. It's necessary. It's powerful and reassuring. And it's a driving force that creates motivation and action. And I agree with it wholeheartedly.

So why do I feel the need to give you perspective? Is it because the very act of claiming perspective, somehow minimises the issue?

Or is it because rage and anger and a crushing sense of injustice can sometimes work against your psyche, rather than for it?

I'm going with the second concept.

It's telling that you feel particularly conflicted after a night out. That sounds like something akin to survivor's guilt, to me.

It reminds me of the advice that is often given to new mothers. To take care of themselves. For a lot of women, every fibre of their being is channelled into the happiness and survival of their baby. Often to the point where they neglect themselves. It's recognised that it's very important to nurture oneself, before one can nurture others.

And although I don't think it's exactly the same, I can see similarities. Going out and bonding with your friends, having a good time, smiling, laughing, dancing is of benefit to you personally. It's ensuring that your psyche can live to fight another day.

It's not damaging to your determination to fight for women everywhere.

You can allow all the parts of your life to have their own compartment. There is nothing hypocritical in going out, flirting, socialising, bonding and enjoying that raucous laughter that comes along every so often to tell us exactly what joy we are capable of.

So yes. That's perspective.

One side does not cancel out the other. Indeed, one side will make the other easier to uphold.

NoLoveofMine Fri 06-Oct-17 10:38:10

Brilliant and thought provoking post as always Datun - thank you. I do think my rage on male violence which I find impossible to shake stems from it hitting close to home, I know that's when I started really thinking about it (in fact thinking about it at all) and I became enraged by the unfairness of it and the violent misogyny harboured. As I've thought about what brought me to these sentiments daily so I have felt the rage at male violence daily, amplified every time I read of another case (and those are just the ones I find out about). This enrages me and also makes me so aware of my fragility and vulnerability, that all it takes is for a man to act upon that disdain for women and girls. I know I don't need to explain this to you or anyone here, just typing thoughts on it as they come. So much talent, love, hope taken because someone was female.

I think that's a good point regarding nights out. I often feel quite angry and upset after them as I said - never on them as I love going out with friends and socialising, it's what I look forward to most. As you say, it's of great benefit to me personally and my psyche. But then I get angry with myself for having had so much fun, laughed so much, still be sharing messages with friends laughing about something which happened or just reminiscing about the night, when I know there should have been someone doing the very same whose right to was taken by male violence and misogyny. What you said about it is very true though and something I need to remember. It doesn't cancel out my rage nor does it let down those who can't do it; it's important to be able to go out and enjoy doing so. Without being able to I'd probably feel overwhelmed by all this in fact.

Ttbb Fri 06-Oct-17 10:40:39

Have you seen a therapist?

Datun Fri 06-Oct-17 11:02:57

nolove

I'm not a therapist, but I can sense in your words something of a lack of control. Not about you personally, but about what has happened, why, and why it continues to happen.

I think it's a fairly normal part of human development. The realisation of quite how insignificant we can be. And of course, again, the Internet reinforces that, on a daily basis, right into our homes. Into the heart of what should be our sanctuary.

I've noticed it both with my youngest son, and my friend's daughter. As access to more and more information becomes a habit, the realisation that there us a lot of suffering and cruelty in humanity sometimes feels overwhelming. And it can definitely lead to a sense of anxiety and lack of control.

You look at other people who remain chilled out and unaffected and think they are just being blind and naive. And some may well be. But for others, it's a conscious choice not to take the ills of the whole world onto their own shoulders.

Because it doesn't help. It doesn't help you, and it doesn't help them.

Be kinder to yourself nolove.

You're a fantastic feminist and sound like a thoroughly decent person.

You can still drive the car, round all the bends and over the hills, whilst taking your foot off the gas sometimes. And occasionally stopping to admire the scenery.

theendisnotnigh Fri 06-Oct-17 11:15:36

Datunthewise smile

NoLoveofMine Fri 06-Oct-17 11:30:35

I think that's a very appropriate name theendisnotnigh!

Thank you very much for your kind words Datun. Lack of control is very true; I can never understand what happened nor ever really "accept" it I suppose. And as you say this goes on to not being able to control or accept what continues to happen, feelings brought back continually by other horrendous attacks and the lack of regard I feel there is for them generally.

You look at other people who remain chilled out and unaffected and think they are just being blind and naive. And some may well be. But for others, it's a conscious choice not to take the ills of the whole world onto their own shoulders.

That's very true. I sometimes feel a bit angry with other people for not being affected but maybe they are, maybe they don't show it. Maybe they are but channel it, maybe they know they'd be overwhelmed if they didn't look after themselves first. It's something I need to learn how to do.

You're a fantastic feminist and sound like a thoroughly decent person.

Thank you very much, coming from you who is an incredible feminist and lovely person that is very heartening!

You can still drive the car, round all the bends and over the hills, whilst taking your foot off the gas sometimes. And occasionally stopping to admire the scenery.

Indeed flowers

(Hopefully I'll be able to take my driving test soon and be let loose in a car grin)

QuentinSummers Fri 06-Oct-17 12:25:12

nolove I was trying to reassure you that if the worst does happen to you (which is unlikely) that you will deal with it. Didn't at all interpret your post as suggesting my life should be ruined.

I do however think some of the narrative around rape as a life-changing event needs to change. It's not helpful and also not how most people perceive their attack.
It's a massive violation and probably the worst violation of someone's personhood outside murder but that doesn't necessarily equate to life changing.
That a why i was so cross about the DM reportong of that text "I was only raped as proving the victim was lying. No-one has the right to tell her how affected she should be or assume that her minimising it means it didn't happen

NoLoveofMine Fri 06-Oct-17 12:50:42

I'm glad and very glad of that Quentin (though enraged it happened at all).

It's not for me to say but I have read of statements from victims which have explicitly said it's not only altered but hugely adversely affected their lives. Some have said they've never got over it, some dropped out of university, some lost jobs. It's difficult for me to say as I of course don't want to suggest this is the only result and am very glad (if that's the word) when it isn't. Of course, none of this should need to even be discussed as it's all due to the choices of men and boys to commit these attacks.

No-one has the right to tell her how affected she should be or assume that her minimising it means it didn't happen

Very much so.

DeleteOrDecay Fri 06-Oct-17 13:06:34

Not sure if I’m missing the point but I’ll always remember when the Ched Evans retrial verdict came in and I had to fight to keep the tears back. I just felt so disheartened by the whole thing and had this massive sense of unjustness. The way the ‘new evidence’ came about, the way his victim was hounded from her home, the names and threats she received. I thought about it for days afterwards. I was shocked at my reaction to be honest, because although I’d been following the case I didn’t think I was so emotionally invested.

I guess it sort of really hit home for me, that something could happen to me or my dd’s or any other woman I know, and there’s an incredibly slim chance of any of us getting justice and that makes me sad, angry and frustrated.

NoLoveofMine Fri 06-Oct-17 13:12:28

You're not Delete and I can very much empathise with that. I feel similarly about victim blaming and rape culture generally, amplified so clearly by that case.

I guess it sort of really hit home for me, that something could happen to me or my dd’s or any other woman I know, and there’s an incredibly slim chance of any of us getting justice and that makes me sad, angry and frustrated.

I know very much what you mean. Knowing how unlikely it is for a rapist to ever be charged let alone convicted, the knowledge it could happen but the attacker would almost certainly never be brought to justice is infuriating and hugely upsetting.

Ereshkigal Fri 06-Oct-17 18:07:34

Me too Delete. I was in a state of despair that day.

Fifi5000 Fri 06-Oct-17 18:58:34

I feel exactly the same. I’m afraid I cope by not reading the news.

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