Knowing what I know now... Talking about sexual violence with

Ava Kanyeredzi (PhD Candidate)
London Metropolitan University
[email protected]
African and Caribbean heritage women’s help
seeking and the impact of violence on their
relationship to their bodies.
 16 Participants; 6 experts, 9 victim-survivors.
 Personal photos of the past to talk about
 Drew diagrams of their help seeking pathways.
 Edited maps of how they feel about their bodies.
 Took photos of objects, places and spaces.
Liz Kelly (1988).
Range of behaviours carried out mostly by
men towards women.
Sexualised slurs, name-calling, touching,
fondling, rape.
Occurs to the same woman over her lifetime.
Occurs to different women at different times.
Impact shared across forms; sense of threat
of violence.
I have been told that I am ugly, useless, worthless.
I have been called names that I dislike.
I have been slapped, punched, kicked, pushed,
beaten, threatened.
I have feared for my safety/life and the safety/life of
my family or my child/children.
I have been raped, pressured or forced to have sex.
I have been pressured or forced to touch someone in a
sexual way.
My health or feeling of wellbeing has been affected by
my experiences.
(Tamara) I feel like what it means to me is I feel is a pathology, I
know that might sound really funny, but that’s what it means to
me is just being a minority and I mean like, for example at a
meeting or something, I often have a lot of heads around me
are white and I’m probably gonna be the only one there that’s
black and then it feels like I’m a minority. I like being black, I like
difference and I like having my heritage, that is different from
everybody else’s, I like it yeh. (Ava) would you say then that it’s
more of a feeling you get when you’re in particular
environments? Is it just in general when you leave your house,
or is it just in specific environments? (Tamara) I think in
professional environments, I feel different in professional
environments. When I‘m out, I don’t feel anything really, but I
enjoy being different.
(Tracy) I don’t think people really wanted to believe it and that
was down to the fact that, I am sorry to say, but when it comes
to black people, they don’t really want to appreciate that things
can happen really bad in any of their communities and just as
white…like in any other community and they don’t really
like…because I remember one time, someone said to me ‘black
people don’t do those things’ you know that’s what they said to
me ‘so we don’t do those kind of things’ …Since I’ve grown up,
I’ve noticed that there are many women who have suffered
experiences and the same thing as well and some of it worse
(giggles nervously) I’ve had it quite easy compared to what
they’ve been through, but they don’t want to talk about it,
some people, you know ‘no it’s not black people, it only
happens to white people’ (…) that sort of thing…
(Tracy) … God has made me the way I am, I hope in
some ways, if I’m going to choose to define myself as a
black woman, I would define (...) I hope that when I do
so, it is erm, it is to encourage, it is to encourage other
black women out there that have suffered my
experiences, other victims of abuse and trauma, they
feel to themselves that, they have to fit a certain role
and they think to themselves that there is nobody really
out there (…) they feel to themselves (…) they think to
themselves they have to hide because of the culture,
because cultures can oppress, not just the white culture,
that applies to black culture, because there’s so much
[sic] expectations and so many things and so forth…
(Tracy)…Well I was brought up in a family that was totally different,
damaged, removed from God. It was a single parent, my mum, it was her
partner, they had another two children and err, my mother wasn’t err, she
didn’t have the best upbringing in life, so to speak of, because when she was
three years old her mother left her and came over here to work and so she
was living with her grandmother and then her grandmother died and she
didn’t have a good experience. She didn’t err (…) to cut a long story short,
she had a lot of issues, she can’t (...) she hasn’t been able to read and write
and err, she’s had a lot of issues in her life. So she had me when she was
nineteen, she came over here in [year] she had me in [year] and there wasn’t
a very good (...) there wasn’t (giggle) (...) it wasn’t a completely good
circumstance either, it was more like she was taken advantage of by
someone older, much older sort of thing (giggles) (...) happens (...) you know
it was consensual, but anyway, so she had me…
(Tracy)…I feel that I have supported her and I’ve
spoken to some agencies and so forth and my
grandmother who has got more experience of
relationships, she gave her some counselling,
because she obviously had her own experiences of
abuse back in [year] when her boyfriend, a former
boyfriend of hers. I think he hit her, then he started
to kick her and she said once he started to kick her,
I think he kicked her a few times, she said ‘I just left
him, I just packed my bags and left’ and she has
been on her own ever since. She hasn’t had a
partner since…
Lived experiences should be
contextualised to women’s social
locations (Hill Collins, 1998; hooks,
2000; Reynolds, 2005).
 Black women subject to everyday
racism, marginalisation as well as
sexual violence (Davis, 2000).
 Differences and similarities between
women are complex and multifaceted, forms can be visible or
hidden when seeking help for
violence (Crenshaw, 1991; 2012).
Lived Experiences
Cultural Constructions
• Historical, systematic rape
• Family stories of survival
after violence
• Own stories of sexual
violence or IPV
• Everyday racism
• Victim of crime
• Policing of sexuality
Single mother
Head of pathological
[Photo of herself as a child, photo of a Bible]
(Tamara) … I was looking at myself, seeing myself as an adult, looking at
myself as a child thinking, I can’t believe someone would do anything like
that to me and then I thought oh I was probably looking much older as you
kinda do and I thought I would use that picture because it (…) it’s what that
person was seeing, what I’m seeing now, a child. A child. So it’s kind of like
(…) I thought, it’s kind of weird actually thinking that that person was seeing
the same thing that I’m seeing now. (Ava) and is there anything, just
thinking along those lines, is there anything, in terms of how you see
yourself, do you then see that person differently, that you’d seen them
before? (Tamara) yep, yep (crying) yeh I do (crying). It just made me think
like, how could a person do that to me, when I look at this picture (crying)?
(Ava) Do you want me to stop the tape for a little bit? (Tamara) no (crying)
but yeh, I picked that one and the other one is a Bible, it’s just kind of erm
(crying) it shows the church (crying) because he was in the church as well
(crying) and everybody used to like him. He was in the church so (sobs) I was
in the church as well so it just reminds me (crying) of that bit of my life so
that bit of my life that goes around in my head sometimes, that’s why I
chose the Bible to take a picture.…
(Jacinta)…and when I’m watching it [African film], some of it really gets to
me, because of what they are showing, the topic in the film and sometimes I
have to turn it off, or forward it, or rewind it and then I’m always thinking,
why do people make these films? They must have made them for a reason.
So when I’m not sleeping because the neighbours are like making noise like
every night, so I turn my TV up really loud (?) so I can watch it. If I hear it all
around me, then I’m okay and I enjoy it, it relaxes me and all that so that’s
when I’m getting all the noise in the middle of the night, or at two o’clock in
the night or four o’clock in the morning, once I start to watch this, I feel a
little bit together again, yeah…
(Tracy)…I’m still working on how I feel inside, because (…) I’m okay with the physical
aspects, I’m learning to love the outside of my body, but the inside needs erm (…)
the inside’s got all its parts intact, just like…just like here (points to the photo) (…) I
mean everything here is intact, it’s got (…) I mean I’ve been to some places before
and they had you know (…) they hadn’t got a radiator, they haven’t got (…) they
haven’t got all the parts together, but here all the parts are together, it’s just that you
need to put some (…)’s just that you need to decorate it (Ava) mm (Tracy) so I’ve
got in my body, I’ve got all my parts together (….) and you know I’ve got health. But I
need to…I need to in some ways erm (……..) I need to some ways erm…paint…I need
to paint over (….) all the erm (….) what can I say [?] all the (…) I need to (…..) here
[photo] I need to decorate (…….) and I would say with my body decorate over the (…)
old parts (…) all the parts (…) decorate it (…) and I would say the same thing with my
body as well (…) my body as well (…) I need to (…) I need to (….) there are some parts
(…) you know (…) I need to erm decorate, I need to erm revamp (…) the inside (…) I
need to revamp inside, just as I need to revamp inside of the flat because, all the
memories from the previous occupier are there (Ava) mm (Tracy) erm the nicotine on
the walls, which is a lot (laughs) are all there, so I need to personalise it [the flat], just
as I need to personalise (…) just as I need to erm personalise it (…) I need to make it
into my own, I need to (….) take away all the things that I don’t like, don’t want that
are nothing to do with me, that are not representative of me that have nothing to do
with my body…
(Deborah) I think the colours, the redness and there’s a green in it as well it
just portrays something, that you can’t see with the naked eye, but you have
to delve down inside you to get the whole picture (Ava) and so what does it
(...) how does it make you feel? (Deborah) It was oh, when I saw it I said wow
that is a lovely picture, so I take it, it makes me feel happy, it gives me
something (...) I’ve never seen something like that before, it’s more
interesting, it’s more mm (...) (Ava) and how do you think (...) do you think it
says anything about (...) kind of your life now? (Deborah) Well the brightness
I think, the brightness shining through life yes, yes and that light…
Lived Experiences
Cultural Constructions
• Historical, systematic rape
• Family stories of survival
after violence
• Own stories of sexual
violence or IPV
• Everyday racism
• Victim of crime
• Policing of sexuality
Single mother
Head of pathological

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