Today is the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I have always been an advocate for women and survivors of violence. I believe gender-based violence is an epidemic and with the #MeToo movement we are finally seeing women standing up for themselves and making their stories heard. The bubble is broken and the conversations I have had with other women are more revealing than I ever could have imagined. Enough is enough. At the same time, I’ve witnessed kickback. I've witnessed survivor shaming and the shaming of others for coming forward (or for not coming forward). I've talked to people who don't understand why these stories matter or why women need to speak out now. People not wanting to rock the boat. Wanting things to go back to how they used to be. Resisting change. I’ve gotten into debates with loved ones. Trying so hard to listen to their point of view. Understand their perspectives. Realizing that the traumas in our lives shape the truths we live by, and challenging those truths is simply work that nobody wants to do.
I’ve been told by people close to me that the #MeToo movement is nothing but a political ploy. That these problems didn’t happen before my generation (I beg to differ). That men are under attack (seriously?). That when it came to a rape case against a well-known and admired celebrity, I would be “lucky” if someone as powerful and as handsome as him raped me. “Cuz women rape him all the time.” Yeah. That was said to my face.
I’m so heart-broken. How quickly people jump to the defensive. It is so much harder to have conversations when we are afraid and angry. No one wants to be called out. And nobody wants to be the first to speak up. It’s easier to blame society/the government/“everyone else” instead of speaking from your own truth and from what you know of the life you have lived. Looking inward is getting scarier and scarier.
I've recently come to realize that my beliefs are not as common as I thought: that being an advocate for women, for trans women, for the LGBTQ community, and for survivors is not easy. So I did what I do when I feel powerless … I made Art.
Tunnel Vision is a song that I wrote with Mary Getachew about her personal experience with intimate parter violence. She was brave enough to share her story with me and then share it with youth across Canada, performing the song in a show called “SExT: Sex Education by Theatre”. It was not always easy for her. Singing about something so personal and so traumatic takes a lot of strength and confronting of fears. About three years after we wrote the song together, I came to a rehearsal and she sang the song for me again. This time she sang it with joy.
So often we focus on the violence and trauma of domestic violence: the disturbing statistics and the who/what/where/when/how/why of the abuse. I get so caught up in the resistance of #MeToo that I forget that the personal journey and the healing that takes place makes it all worth it. Mary is an example of what happens when you are brave enough to look deep within and speak from there. What happened to me is not my fault, but it is my responsibility. How I live my life here on out and the conscious choices I make in my life is where I can find power and where I can find joy.
When I signed on to direct the music video for “Tunnel Vision”, my vision was clear. I wanted it to reflect Mary’s current reality. She was no longer in trauma or fear about what happened: she was brave, she had done the work, and she was actively taking the steps towards a beautiful and supported recovery. I wanted the video to be an artistic expression of an unhealthy relationship (which is never black and white) and the stories we have within ourselves that propel us towards a greater understanding of ourselves and ultimately our freedom. The humanness of unhealthy relationships. Something that everyone can relate to.
I wanted to show people what a survivor looks like.
I am so proud of this video and I am so proud of Mary. I hope people can see themselves in this video and realize that it is worth it to be brave and to do the hard work. It is not your fault, but unfortunately it is your responsibility. You can find joy and you can find happiness if you are brave enough. Don’t let anyone bring you down. You are not alone.
- Post by Elena Juatco, SExT Creative Facilitator & Director of Tunnel Vision
“Tunnel Vision” is presented by SExT: Sex Education by Theatre in partnership with The Canadian Foundation For AIDS Research.
Watch the video here.
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