January 17, 2019

Do we know what violence against women means?

Catherine Whittaker, 30

Before #MeToo, people rarely wanted to hear about gender-based violence. Too often, they seemed to assume that it was a messy private matter between two people of a particular social background that essentially follows the same dull pattern every time: the brute who comes home to find his woman failed to make dinner and then beats her.
In reality, violence occurs in many kinds of relationships between diverse kinds of people and takes on myriad forms. I have personally found psychological abuse every bit as terrifying as physical assault. Moreover, the gaslighting doesn’t stop at the moment the relationship ends: even close friends and family may blame survivors.
This poem is about reclaiming the truth of what happened to me as a pathway to expanding our collective imagination about what violence against women means, and who is implicated in it.