This letter was written a little less than a year ago, before my personal recollection of my attack. It was written as an attempt, as the first step towards reconciling with my community. In attempts to address the sexual violence confronting my community I had caused a dramatic scene outside of a rape survivors meetup a few months prior to when this letter was written. There was one group in particular who was offended, and that is to whom it is addressed. This message was transmitted through the mechanism of a DIY accountability committee.
[To a local social justice organization]
Members of your organization have come to identify me as a “terrorist”. I have in turn come to see many of your members in a very similar light. The situation has escalated to the point where not just I, but those associating with me have been stalked, harassed, and assaulted across the cities of Chicago, Philadelphia, and Cleveland. After that happened I came back here to Cincinnati to heal. Soon after that was when the mess surrounding [a local bar with whom this group took issue] exploded all over the front page of the [local paper], and I could see the chains of abuse grip our community ever tighter. I was scared but I had to take a stand against the escalation. I wasn't sure what to do at the time but I had to do something. I locked myself to the [building hosting the group meeting] not realizing that it in itself was some form of escalation, some form of specifically applied pressure on the community. I’m sorry for pressing our community closer towards the edge of uncertainty.
If we are to knead the knots of patriarchy out of our communal muscle, the application of social pressures may very well be necessary. However, some of the trends which are developing in this city are dangerous to it’s own stability. Radical or not we are both susceptible to falling victim to those patriarchal patterns of domination and control ingrained in every member of our society from a very early age. Both parties are guilty of attempting to dominate the outcome of the other’s reality, and all it has done is tighten the grip of those chains of abuse which bind us together in cycles of violence.
It is in the interest of recognizing my own patterns of domination and abuse that I am organizing a preventative support group with the help of my fellow [redacted]. We are trying to keep our model simple and have managed to key it down to a two-step process. First, every participant shares a story of how domination has affected their lives that week. The group then compares and contrasts to try and pick out patterns which repeat themselves across different stories. Moderators maintain the group’s focus on patterns, not people, and every individual is responsible for determining the suitability of their own behavior after receiving feedback from the group. Despite it’s simplicity we have been made the offer of participating in an academic review of our workshop and model with the [secondary education institute]. Given the trends here in Cincinnati we believe that this academic process will be vital in developing the dexterity and credibility of our model for when it is eventually brought back here to Cincinnati. I hope that once our process is underway that you will find it in yourselves to please forgive me for my escalation outside of the [group space].
While our objective in developing this model is to create one which could be deployed in any city, it is healthy to say that the community in which it is firmly rooted is clearly Cincinnati. We recognize that it is Cincinnati’s radical feminist community which has refused to allow the discussion of ‘deconstructing patriarchy’ to die in our city, something which I find admirable. It is you who have pushed the conversation and defined the tone, and it is you who have pushed me to the point I am at today, where I recognize the need for a preventative support group like the one we hope to design and deploy. For that I have to say I love you, and thank you, and that I hope you continue your work in pushing the conversation ever forward.
While we have no expectations, I would be greatful for any resources which your group might be able to provide which might help prepare our model for the rigors of academic review. I believe it would only be appropriate that our initial offering and rhetoric be spiced with the flavours of our local radical communities, and I hope it can begin with yours.