resources for victims of abuse and assault
and what you can do to educate yourself and stand with victims
tw/cw: sexual assault, abuse, rape

trigger warnings give victims a second to prepare themselves for what they are about to see or hear, and decide if they are in the right headspace to continue on or if they need to step back and come back to it when they're ready. it's like a stop sign; it gives us a minute to figure out if we are feeling safe enough to proceed.

triggers are different for everyone, so something that might not seem triggering to you could be extremely triggering for someone else. for some, this may be just seeing a word with no warning before it, for others it may be seeing graphic detail of their triggers, maybe both, maybe neither. it's important to recognize that something you may not be bothered by could bother someone else.

when using trigger warnings online (specifically twitter), it is important to put the full triggering word, uncensored, so that people who have it muted do not see it or risk it coming up on their timeline.

good examples:

trigger warning: sexual assault
tw // sexual assault
cw: sexual assault

bad examples:

trigger w-rning: s-xual ass-ult
tw/sexual assalt
cw:s-x--l -ss--lt
(and of course, no trigger warning at all)

sexual assault, women's rights, black lives, lgbt+

according to RAINN, "the term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim."

it is never the victims fault that someone did something to them without their consent. sometimes victims can understand what happened to them in the matter of minutes, other times it takes months or years.

even if you think consent is IMPLIED, that does NOT mean it is actually THERE. unless there was a verbal confirmation from both parties, there isn't necessarily consent there.

abuse as defined by NDVH "is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship." this can be verbally, emotionally and mentally, or physically and sexually.

it can be very hard for victims to leave their abusers, and sometimes it can take a long time for victims to recognize they're being abused. it's also entirely possible for victims to leave their abusive relationship and not realize they were abused until months or years after it ended.

manipulation is a way for an abuser to gain control over their victims by furthering their own agendas at the expense of the victim. grooming is when "someone builds a relationship, trust and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them" according to NSPCC. gaslighting is where a manipulator tries to manipulate the victim into questioning their own actions, decisions, or beliefs to further their agenda as an abuser.

some long term physical effects of sexual violence and abuse can be depression, having flashbacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and more.

some long term physical affects include having trouble beginning new relationships, hyper-sexuality, a complete loss of interest in having sex, etc.

if a victim comes forward about their experiences, they deserve to be heard. even if their abuser was your friend, they made an anonymous account to post on, they did not post screenshots or videos publicly, the events spoken of happened years ago, etc. it is only your job to hear the victim and protect them from any further trauma that may come with coming forward.

IT IS NOT YOUR PLACE to speak over a victim. you cannot tell them what you think they went through, because you were not there.

IT IS NOT YOUR PLACE to share the victim's story without their consent. if they are not ready to post it publicly, then let them take their time and come forward if and when they are ready.

IT IS NOT YOUR PLACE to tell a victim's story before they share it themselves, because you don't want to see their abuser holding a platform. by sharing it yourself before the victim can, you're taking away an opportunity for them to get justice for themselves and regain any power their abuser may have taken away from them. (you posting THEIR story before they are ready is also speaking over them! if they confided in you with their experiences of abuse, it's NEVER your place to share it!!! especially when they haven't even come forward yet!!!!!)

IT IS NOT YOUR PLACE to forgive someone's abuser because you think they responded to the situation well, because they were your friend, because you think they did nothing wrong, etc. it is not your place to forgive them unless the victim forgives them themselves.

IT IS NOT YOUR PLACE to tell victims of any kind what trauma responses are and are not valid. everyone reacts to traumatic situations and their triggers differently. one person may physically throw up from something that triggers them, and another person may be completely unaffected by it. you cannot tell them how they are and are not supposed to feel when you have not directly been in their situation.

if you know your friends are abusers or have done terrible things in the past, call them out. hold them accountable for their actions. this scene has no place for abusers, and you should not be protecting them in any way, shape or form.

even if it's your friend, your bandmate, your sibling, you need to hold abusers accountable when victims come forward.

if they are your friend, you can cut them off, you can tell them to get help, you can tell them to get the hell out your your band and music scene for making someone feel as unsafe as they did. especially if you had no idea how unsafe they made someone feel and what their actions caused, you should be holding them accountable for what they did, just the same as you would do for any other abuser that you didn't know.

"but they were my friend!" then you should hold them to the same standard you hold everyone else to. do you really want to stay friends with an abuser?

"i knew them, they would never do that!" you were not there. you have no right to say what you think happened in that situation, because you were not there. just because they wouldn't do it to YOU doesn't mean they wouldn't do it to anyone else.

"there isn't enough evidence!" it can be very re-traumatizing to go digging through old screenshots, pictures, videos, etc. also, a lot of the time, these things aren't recorded on phones, or the victim may not have thought to screenshot someone's unsolicited pictures or say "i should save this conversation for when i realize they're abusive and a predator. ALSO, a lot of the times these things happen in person and aren't traceable in text conversations.

"this person is probably a liar!" no, you're too ignorant to realize that your friend is capable of and acted on the same awful things that other abusers in the scene have. again, just because they didn't do it to you, doesn't mean they didn't do it to anyone else.

"what they did doesn't even sound that bad!" your definition of bad is very different from someone else's definition of bad, even if you went through the same things. everyone responds to traumatic situations differently, and no matter what, this person felt uncomfortable and upset enough by what happened to hold them accountable. you should be holding them accountable too. it's not your place to say what is and isn't "bad enough" to the victim.

"the victim is taking this the wrong way!" EVERYONE RESPONDS TO TRAUMA DIFFERENTLY. everyone has different triggers and trauma affects every person differently. you cannot tell them what is and is not the "right way" of taking things, because you were not there and you have no right to speak over the victim.

hold your friends, bandmates, crew, siblings, and anyone and everyone else who took advantage of, abused, manipulated, assaulted, etc. people, whether it's one victim or many, accountable for their actions.