On Collective Acknowledgement in the Aftermath of Sexual Violence

Judith L. Herman in Literary Hub:

The first precept of survivors’ justice is the desire for community acknowledgment that a wrong has been done. This makes intuitive sense. If secrecy and denial are the tyrant’s first line of defense, then public truth telling must be the first act of a survivor’s resistance, and recognizing the survivor’s claim to justice must be the moral community’s first act of solidarity.

The First Speakout on Rape, organized by New York Radical Feminists, took place in 1971. There, the public testimony of survivors created a new kind of open courtroom, one in which violence against women would no longer be considered a private misfortune but rather viewed as a criminal injustice that had long been invisible and tacitly condoned. In declaring their stories with righteous outrage rather than shame, survivors collectively challenged the wider community to recognize truths long hidden.

Fifty years later, when survivors organize, this remains their first demand.

More here.