Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Tara Moss on Q&A: Why I'm talking about sexual violence

Tara Moss has recently broken her silence about being a survivor of sexual violence, with her latest book (and first non-fiction work), The Fictional Woman, detailing a story she's "kept locked up for 20 years".

The 10-time author recently shared some of this story with the Good Weekend, explaining that her book describes her experience as a survivor of sexual assault and rape, something she has chosen not to speak about publicly until recently, despite being a vocal advocate of women and children's rights.

So what prompted her to expose these very personal experiences in her book?

As a panelist on Q&A last night she explained that her story is part of a broader attempt to tackle the idea that speaking out about violent crime and sexual assault is still taboo, and shatter the "toxic silence" that protects perpetrators of violent crimes and silences the victims from speaking out.

She explained that her book aims to examine the fictions we currently have about women.

"What I found was that when you're talking about the experience of women and girls there are fictions that we hold that things like sexual violence happen to other people. Things like miscarriage happen to other people," she said.

"I'm someone who wants to be speaking out and becoming an advocate for some of these issues for women and girls. I really felt like I couldn't talk about some of these issues for women and girls without talking about sexual violence and I couldn't talk about sexual violence without putting my hand up and showing solidarity with other victims of crime and saying. 'I'm one of you'."

Moss added that as sexual violence affects one in three women as well as many men, there would be people in the Q&A audience and at home who are affected by it and need to know that they're not alone. "I think there is a toxic silence surrounding this issue and we need to get a lot better at talking about it and one of the reasons is because the silence protects the predators. It also shames the victims. It also robs us as a community of the tools to be able to support people adequately when these things happen to them."

As for being labelled as "brave" for sharing her experiences, Moss says that while she's grateful for the support she was never labelled as "brave" in the aftermath of the violence. "They don't tell you that at the time.They don't tell you you're brave, you're a role model, that you've survived something. They often tell you that you should be silent. They tell you that it's your fault. They tell you that you were asking for it, that you did something wrong."

"Viewers at home: You will get through this. This will pass. You are strong. You do not need to be silent."

POST ORIGINATED FROM http://www.womensagenda.com.au


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