open letter to g20 survivor: there is such a thing as being a victim

After watching this, please read my thoughts, below.

What happened to Lacy MacAuley was horrific and inexcusable - and criminal. But she says some things are potentially very painful to other survivors. I imagine MacAuley's intentions are good, but nonetheless, it pains me to see these dangerous statements stand unchallenged.

Lacy MacAuley was a victim. She had no control over the situation and things were done and said to her without her consent. That's what it means to be victimized.

Now she is speaks out as a strong survivor. That is excellent. It will undoubtedly help her healing. But her inner strength doesn't mean she wasn't victimized. It doesn't mean another G20 protester who was similarly victimized and is now depressed or otherwise traumatized is weak or somehow "let" someone into their head.

The idea that no one can hurt you without your consent is both false and dangerous. It is a form of victim-blaming.

If no one can hurt you without your consent, then rape doesn't exist. Torture doesn't exist. Bullying doesn't exist. Abuse doesn't exist. But all these things do exist. Both women and men are tortured, raped, abused, bullied to the point of psychological torture. Not because they are weak. Not because someone "got into their head", but because we do not always have control over what happens to us.

We might not want to believe that, because it makes us feel unsafe. We want to believe if we walk with confidence or carry pepper spray - or, in MacAuley's case, have love in our hearts - that we will not be victims. That's fine if it gives us an illusion of safety so we can get on with our lives. But it's not fine if we negate other people's experience.

I understand that MacAuley is not saying that rape or torture does not exist. She knows what happened to her was abuse and assault. I get that. But, however unintentionally, she is assigning blame to anyone who doesn't share her strong and buoyant attitude. Not only don't we have control over being victimized, we don't get to choose how we feel and react afterwards, either.

MacAuley says she was lucky to escape sexual assault. She was. Other women in the G20 arrests were not as lucky. If any of them are now traumatized from that experience - or if MacAuley develops trauma symptoms later, which is not uncommon - it's not because they let anyone into their head. It's only because they are human.

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