Sexual Assault (in comics) Awareness Month: Introduction

Today is April second. It’s the second week of spring. It’s almost Passover; almost Easter; day after April Fools’. It’s also the second day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
This month, I’m gonna do something a little different in Inside Out (as opposed to the whopping…er…two months’ worth of precedent that I’ve set). I’m going to write a month’s worth of columns about sexual assault issues in comic books and how they correspond to real life. If you have any doubt that I can fill a month with this topic, here’s something to chew on: in order to cover everything I want to, I’m probably going to be posting semiweekly for the duration of April. Although I already have a fair idea of the topics I want to discuss, if you have any questions, suggestions, or requests, please let me know in the forum.
Here’s my angle: I am a comics professional; I care deeply about the comics industry and about its quality and integrity. I am also a feminist, and sexual assault is a feminist issue (actually, it’s everyone’s issue, but it’s of particular concern from a feminist angle).
My connection to and concern about sexual assault goes back further than my connection to and concern about the comics industry; almost as far back as my involvement in feminism. I’ve been involved in anti-sexual assault activism for almost half my life, from Take Back the Night, to the Clothesline Project, to the victims’ rights lobby. I spent four-plus years working directly with sexual assault survivors as a volunteer crisis advocate. I have created and taught high school, college, and community sexual violence education curricula. I have held survivors’ hands in the emergency room. I have written fact-sheets. I have seen faces and heard stories. I’ve also talked to and worked with perpetrators. This is an issue I care a lot about, and one regarding which I can speak with relative authority.
So, that’s me; now for you.
Sexual violence thrives on silence and complacency. My goal this month is to speak up and be heard, and to encourage you to do the same: I dearly hope that the discussions this series of columns starts will substantially outlive the month of April. One potential venue for that discussion is the Inside Out board on the Girl-Wonder forum. However, before you start, I want to lay down some ground rules:

  1. Girl-Wonder strives to be a safe space for survivors. You do not question someone’s story. You do not refute someone’s story. You do not belittle or blame someone who has had the courage to speak about his or her experiences. Victim blaming on my board is grounds for immediate moderator intervention, and I will be moderating these threads very closely.
  2. If you aren’t sure what comprises appropriate participation in such a discussion, you are more than welcome to PM me. In the meantime, take a little while to listen. Sometimes, conscious listening can be a more valuable contribution to a discussion than speech.
  3. While I am trained and certified as a crisis advocate, I don’t have the time, energy, or support system to act in that capacity right now. While I will be more than happy to listen to anyone with something to share, I cannot be your counselor. If you’re in need of counseling or direct intervention services, I will be happy to refer you to resources in your region.
  4. TRIGGER WARNING: Both the columns and their discussion threads will more than likely contain trauma triggers. Please be safe.
    The first content will be posted in the next few days. Stay tuned for updates.
    In the meantime, you can discuss this column here.