Saturday, October 10, 2015

Reflections on violence

I feel like I've spent a good portion of my life trying to escape violence. There has been a lot of scaffolding erected and rebuilding in my life and without a doubt some impenetrable walls have been built as well. Yet each time I seem to find some peace, it's fleeting. I found some peace living on campus at La Trobe Uni until a pair of brothers decided to viciously bash each other just outside my door. Until a friend decided to grab a gun and go on a rampage on campus. I moved and got some peace for a time. Until I was repeatedly stood over, shoved and dehumanised. Until I heard excuses again and again. Until I had flashbacks from events earlier in life which had been long buried. Until I left with bruising.

And I defended myself, because that's what any of us actually do in many active and passive forms. Whether it's physically defending ourselves or putting in place mental defence mechanisms so you can continue on in your life. And I rebuilt. Oh, how I have rebuilt. I look on what I have achieved and I think it's pretty fucking marvellous for a person who has been told or treated like she is nothing for much of her life. As a failure, as expendable. I know what that feels like all too well and I empathise with others who are being reduced in such ways.

So when I'm sitting on a tram going into work and I am dissolving in a public place, I know it's all getting too much. I know that hearing the bloke a few doors down tear shreds out of his partner and assault her the previous night has gotten to me. I know that seeing a man yelling at his crying partner who is apologising repeatedly to him on the street on Tuesday night has gotten to me. I know that seeing a bloke last week yelling abuse then repeatedly punching the door of a bus because he didn't press the bell to stop yet somehow this is the bus driver's fault has gotten to me. I know that seeing a bloke verbally abuse two women in a shop two weeks ago in the foulest way because he was clearly too self-important to just listen to them has gotten to me. I know that being racially and sexually vilified on a tram, as well as physically threatened, because I told a drunk bloke not to kick two men he referred to as "fucking fags" three weeks ago has gotten to me. I know that I am feeling completely worthless again, and that everywhere I look, people believe they have the right to make others feel the same. And it feels like I'm right back in that place before I rebuild again.

So why do they do it? Is it a maintenance of their power that they feel entitled to wield over others? Is it their own issues or insecurities which they enact on others? Is it actually fun to dehumanise people? I know what I think, and I express it so often, but right now I just want it to stop. I don't want to see it. I don't want to experience it. I want people to recognise that they are dealing with real people here who have autonomy and integrity. I don't believe it is simply "human nature" to cause pain to others, in fact I think that's just an excuse people use to avoid being better and to turn a blind eye to those doing the same. There was 68 dead women this year; at least 11 Aboriginal; yet everywhere I look, things seem to be getting worse rather than better. It can't continue.

I know I'm not nothing. I do have worth. I know that I am in a slump and if my life has taught me anything, it's that I'm pretty good at rebuilding. I also know that I'm far from perfect and have caused pain to others on occasion. So I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm just wanting people to understand the humanity of others and treat them as such. They're not disposable, they're not inferior and they're not yours to control. That's about it. As mentioned, I am taking a bit of a break to regroup at the moment, but I will return.

10 comments:

  1. Strength and peace to you Celeste. Thank you for being such a strong and powerful voice for women - and for Indigenous women

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  2. Wishing you peace and the chance to re-build your resilience during your time-out.

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  3. I relate to this on so many levels. It is bruising to witness so much continual aggression, and feeling like there is no escape from it ever just gets to you. I hope you have people who make you feel safe to hang out with, and the space and resources right now to look after yourself a little bit.

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  4. Hugs. Regroup. Find love in the arms of family and friends. Come back even stronger in the struggle for justice. We need you and love you.

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  5. HI Celeste yeah it is tough sometimes especially when it seems like everywhere around you is only the bad stuff. Take care and regroup because I really love the stuff you write with those unique (and tough!) insights into what is going on. Cheers

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  6. Even when you are 'in a slump' Celeste you shared your pain, your experiences of violence, your acts of resistance and your hope with the world. Awesome and thanks...

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  7. Sending strength for the rebuild.

    I am currently reading bell hooks' 'Teaching to Transgress' of which every word is reaching me deeply and perhaps can provide a sense of comfort to you and others - will share a few lines.

    'It is not easy to name our pain, to make it a location for theroizing. Patricia Williams, in her essay "On Being the Object of Property" (in The Alchemy of Race and RIghts), writes that even those of us who are "aware" are made to feel the pain that all forms of domination (homophobia, class exploitation, racism, sexism, imperialism) engender:

    "There are moments in my life when I feel as though a part of me is missing. There are days when I feel so invisible that I can't remember what day of the week it is, when I feel so manipulated that I can't remember my own name, when I feel so lost and angry that I can't speak a civil word to the people who love me best. These are the times when I catch sight of my reflection in store windows and am surprised to see a whole person looking back…I have to close my eyes at such times and remember myself, draw an internal pattern that is smooth and whole" '

    Thank you.

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  8. Thinking of you Celeste, let me know if you need a yarn over a cup if tea - bryan x

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  9. Thinking of you Celeste, let me know if you need a yarn over a cup if tea - bryan x

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  10. Thank you, Celeste, for voicing what so many struggle or refuse to say.
    Take care.

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