I have found that injustice takes many forms, and addressing it requires a deep commitment that begins within. Abuse towards anyone, and disrespect, contempt and hatred of women, are only two forms of injustice in our world. Standing up for injustice that affects ourselves, our families, or our own communities, is one step in a long journey that must inevitably lead to standing together against injustice outside our own circles. In 1963, Martin Luther King wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Being human, for many, the day we experience injustice ourselves is the first day we start to care about the fate to which we may have indifferently consigned others for years, or even centuries. Joining with other victims of injustice leads to group strength.
Holding abusers accountable is easier said than done. One thing I’ve learned in my six years of working with victims and survivors of abuse, is that accountability is difficult to put into practice. Observing many batterer intervention program group sessions and attending training after training has been a sobering experience. I have developed a deep respect for the counselors who have devoted every day of their lives for over thirty years to the challenging task of holding abusers accountable. Accountability is easy to talk about, and hard to achieve. Internet technology makes it easier to mask an abuser’s manipulation, thereby making it that much more difficult to distinguish abused from abuser. Only through careful training can we successfully hold abusers accountable.
A Better Future
I find myself challenged to live up to the lifelong commitment of those who have gone before me. I respect and acknowledge my many trainers in learning about the abuse of women and other targets, and their lifelong contribution and body of work. The measure of my sincerity will be my real investment of time and effort over the long term. One of the first principles of struggle for victims of injustice is to let them speak in their own voices. There are capable women in the Internet community who can voice their views, and I as a man would not presume to make their case for them. I can stand with them and support their voices.
MLK also wrote in 1963 that “In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action.” I try to be careful in my collection and examination of facts in determining exactly where injustice may lie. I try to negotiate peacefully to try to resolve differences where possible. I want try to look within and ask myself if I have devoted time to understanding the abuse of women and how to truly end it. I want to ask myself squarely, where may I have engaged in unacceptable behavior in the past, and hold myself accountable, as I seek to hold others accountable. Not with empty words, but with true accountability. Training by those with years of expertise in the field will demonstrate true devotion to these principles, rather than a drive-by commitment. After these steps,and thoughtful consideration, I seek to engage in direct action.
Abusers use technology as part of the cycle of power and control many face daily. This has to end. Those of us who have already devoted years by working to stop abuse of, and violence against, women, welcome “The Internet Generation” waking up with a new commitment to these interconnected struggles.
Thanks to TM for review and suggestions.