Guest Post by Jasbina Misir – How To Be A Good Ally To Sexual Assault Survivors

10 Aug

by Jasbina Misir

TW: sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, victim-blaming

I wanted to share something truly disgusting and awful that happened to me this past Monday.

At 1 AM I was sexually assaulted during a concert. On the dance floor when the crowd rushed the stage. These are all the details I want to and am going to share. I have filed a report with the police and an investigation to catch the assailant is ongoing.

Why am I sharing this? I am sharing this because for me and for many survivors, talking about what happened is a key part of surviving, healing, responding to erasure and silencing. Talking about an assault can be a way for people to get some kind of accountability for what happened, even if that accountability only ever comes in the form of speaking their truth.

I’ve heard people say that talking about sexual violence experience is a frivolous and narcissistic act, but this could not be further from the truth. I am saying this both as someone who is a survivor and who has worked to support survivors for over 7 years now. I have worked doing peer crisis support and have developed my own artwork in response to being an incest survivor. I have a huge depth of knowledge about rape culture, the realities of sexual violence in Canada, and my experiences have led me to have a well-informed and highly nuanced perspective, skill set, and knowledge base. I basically have my PhD in Sexual Violence – the kind of PhD that was earned in the field, which is the saddest statement I have ever had to say.

Based on all of this, I feel deeply that the silencing of survivors experiences of sexual violence does not make anything better. Rather, it feeds into the numbing and deadening narrative that tells us that we should feel shame.


What I really need you to understand right now is that I know what is best for me.  Every survivor knows their own experience very deeply, and every survivor is the expert on how they need to heal. You don’t get to tell a survivor that they are handling their assault in the wrong way; that is absolutely not up to you.

I also need to you understand that I am not ashamed of being a survivor. I am not ashamed because I have not done anything wrong. No one should have to fear violation, assault, and dehumanization when going to a concert. I REPEAT no one should have to fear and/or experience sexual violence ever. 

I need you to understand that it is not a matter of needing to be more careful. What happened had nothing to do with what I was wearing, the company I was with, or whether or not I have any self-defence skills. If you must know, I was with my close friends at a venue that is usually really safe, I was not drunk or high, and I was wearing a dress that was past my knees which covered my chest. 

But none of that matters.


Even if I had been drunk or high (both of which have been the case during past assaults) or wearing booty shorts and with my tits out (which I often do and will continue to do) or been out alone at night, I STILL AM NOT ASKING TO BE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED NOR AM BEING IRRESPONSIBLE.

I am a person with a body that sometimes cannot and most often does not want to be swathed in artificial layers of safety.

Was I slutty and asking for it at 4-6 years of age when my close family member repeatedly sexually assaulted me?

Was I irresponsible when my former boyfriend consistently would ignore my pleas for him to stop forcing me to have sex or to stop when it hurt to much?


The answer to the two questions above is, of course, no. And the same goes for what happened to me at the concert.

Here’s the thing: unless you are a survivor yourself, I really likely do not want your perspective unless its one that is supportive and deeply listening.


I am writing this because I have had people ask me the most inappropriate invasive questions when I have disclosed information about this assault. Let me be very clear here: this information is not yours to ask for. Not only that, but it is incredibly uncomfortable for me to tell this story over and over. I have had to explain painful intimate details to the the club manager, my friends that were there, my mother, the police, EMS, the doctor. I do not want to have explain it yet again to you just because you feel you deserve it or, worse, want to challenge me on some aspect of what I experienced. That is not how you support someone who has been sexually assaulted.

If you want to be a good friend and ally to survivors, here is what we need:

  1. Believe us – In some ways, the most radical act you can do when someone discloses that they have been sexually assaulted is to believe them. My whole life I have been shamed and silenced around my experiences of sexual violence in explicit ways and micro-aggressions. As an incest survivor the very family member that regularly abused me as a child told me I that I am a liar and a whore so I would be too ashamed and not say anything. It’s tactics like this that help perpetuate rape culture, and whenever you question whether a survivor is telling the truth, you are complicit in that perpetuation. 
  2.  Listen to what we say and respect our boundaries.
  3. Don’t ask invasive questions – I promise you that survivors will bring up any details they think are pertinent. Please don’t ask for more than they are willing to tell you.
  4.  Be Patient – This is really difficult to go through and when you ask invasive questions or admit to skepticism, you force me to hold your hand through being a good ally to survivors. That is not what I need right now. What I need right now is for someone to hold my hand. I would rather you say you are out of your depth, cannot, or do not want to support me or talk to me about this. I am asking for you to be a good friend and human being, not my therapist. Just listen if you are able, if you want to provide resources that might be helpful after gently asking me if they would be helpful sure. Other than that I simply want understanding and space to heal.
  5. Don’t give me advice, explanations, safety tips – Its so fucking condescending, patronizing, and horrible when people tell me what I need, how I should have behaved, or what I should do. If that is your idea of supporting survivors, well that isn’t support for me and I need you to do better. Please.
  6.  Please don’t make this about you – Whatever my response, irritation, shutting down, not talking to you, sadness, I will do my best to be very clear about where I am at but that might mean I need to just step out from the situation. I may not be able to hang out, and when I do it might need to be more low key. I may not want to be touched or touch you. Just accept these things, and my needs, and honour them. If you cannot do that right now, or need support, well for a while I can’t do that. I need to take care of myself. So often when I disclose I find myself having to do so much in the way of educating and supporting people. That should not be my job right now.
  7. Don’t minimize or derail the conversation – I am too tired to deal with “devil’s advocates” or assholes saying I have a “biased perspective” because I am survivor. I have stats, but honestly this is not a message to debate this is me stating what I need and what happened to me to a community of people that I really believe care about me.
  8. Please stop asking me if I have reported this assault. – I have, but often I have not and that is for a lot of really legitimate reasons. I really don’t fucking care what you think about this matter because you are me right now. Support my decisions around them and respect them. This is not about your justice, its about my survival.
  9. Don’t pathologize or make assumptions– I am a lot stronger and more complicated than most people have any idea about. In fact I am probably one of the strongest people you know and this is the kind of strength borne out of sheer fucking determination to persist through so so much adversity. My story isn’t the worst but its mine, and I am dealing with it. So trust that I know myself.

I really value everyone in my life, and generally I assume people mean the best. Right now I am super vulnerable and good intentions cannot justify poor behaviour however well meant. I really love you all and I thank you for all the support, love and friendship I get.

Thank you so much and I really love you all.

Jassie

Jasbina Misir

Jasbina Misir

Jasbina is a non-binary trans femme mixed person. Jasbina self-identifies as a womboi. Jasbina is currently balancing negotiating the industrial academic complex with the affirming healing creating Jasbina does as a Transcriptionist and Artist-Resident through the Trans-Disciplinary Artist Program (TAP) at the Watah Theatre Institute. Jasbina is a poet, a performance artist, sex worker (on hiatus), a yoga practitioner and theoretician, as well as being deeply committed to understanding and continuing to heal mutually constituted oppressions and trauma. Jasbina embraces Jasbina’s madness and continues to work on the process of decolonizing. Jasbina is a survivor of multiple traumas including incest, rape, sexual assault and institutionalization. These experiences deeply informed Jasbina artistic practice , and Jasbina is learning to embracing Jasbina’s madness, exquisite sensitivity and empathic nature. Jasbina works in solidarity and love with the global village.

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36 Responses to “Guest Post by Jasbina Misir – How To Be A Good Ally To Sexual Assault Survivors”

  1. Icarus August 10, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

    I think a lot of people still think of rape as being dragged into a dark alley by a stranger and being sexually assaulted. They don’t equate rape with date rape, or that being fondled or penetrated with anything besides a penis is also sexual assault* . and they don’t often think that men can be raped too.

    * assuming your municipality has had the good sense to redefine the legal definition of sexual assault/rape to avoid loop holes.

  2. gigoid August 10, 2015 at 11:17 pm #

    Strong, brave, and absolutely right. Good work…

    gigoid, in admiration

    • animadi August 11, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

      Thank you so much for your support.

  3. confessionalprosetry August 11, 2015 at 12:42 am #

    Reblogged this on confessionalprosetry and commented:
    Thank you, Jasbina. This is exactly the kind of thing people need to read, and exactly the kind of truth we all need to promote.

    • animadi August 11, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

      Thank you for your words and reblog. ❤

  4. Kathleen August 11, 2015 at 2:17 am #

    I am so sorry this happened to you.

    • animadi August 11, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

      Thank you for your kindness and support

  5. Olayinka August 11, 2015 at 3:25 am #

    As a survivor myself I totally agree with this post and will like to add #11 “If I open up to you about my experience just listen and do not interrupt or ask ANY questions. Remember this is hard for me and I’m telling you because I trust you. That being said I DO NOT want you to publicize my story to the world”

    • animadi August 11, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

      Hello ❤

      That is a super valid and important point!

      This comment really highlights the fact that not everyone want's their story publicized, or to even share it. That is a survivor's choice, and no one is any less brave for doing what is best for them.

      There is such a diversity in how people respond, speak to (or do not), process, and survive in general. Everyone's experience, surviving, healing, and choices are valid.

      Thank you for speaking up, sharing your perspective as well! You are incredible and thank you.

      Jassie

  6. Pelelotus August 11, 2015 at 7:35 am #

    So very sorry that you were assaulted. You are also very brave for speaking out and I hope that you get the justice and support you deserve at this horrific time. X

    • Pelelotus August 11, 2015 at 7:36 am #

      Plus an informative and moving post. X

      • animadi August 11, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

        Thank you so much. I greatly appreciate your kind words, support, and hope for me. ❤

  7. andreakbeltran August 11, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    I’m sorry this happened to you. I believe you.

    • animadi August 11, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

      Thank you so so much for believing me and your words.

  8. likestowrite August 11, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

    Your inner strength shines through in this post, and I admire your bravery/determination in sharing your experience. There is NOTHING you have done to deserve such an assault and I truly hope the low life is caught and punished..and soon. I’m sure you don’t need me to say thus, but you are an incredibly strong person

    • animadi August 11, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

      I appreciate your words, kindness, and support. I am so incredibly lucky to be able to share my story in a safe space by an incredible writer/blogger and person – Anne.

      I think… strength sometimes is just, surviving, processing, and healing. Something I have had the opportunity to do.

      I don’t mean to hand wave your compliment and incredible kindness, I just always want to speak to that there are so many survivors who can’t speak up, have the same access to resources, or respond in the same way. Sometimes survival, as it has been for me has been not so coherent, understandable, and even disturbing.

      I just hope I am helping creating room for a diversity of experiences, accounts, and narratives when we discuss sexual violence survivorship…they are all valid.

      Again, you are so so kind. Thank you.

  9. animadi August 12, 2015 at 2:16 am #

    Reblogged this on theperfecttension and commented:
    This is a blog post I wrote on bellejar.ca about my experiences as a historical and recent sexual violence survivor.

    Trigger Warnings for sexual violence, sexual assault, rape, childhood sexual violence, and victim blaming.

  10. hbusse August 12, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    I like the parts about not having to hold someone’s hand as they deal with your assault. I experienced that. It’s difficult… I didn’t have the energy to help them or listen to them or dry their tears. I barely had the energy to dry my OWN tears.
    Also, thank goodness for people who do the work that you do (and thank you for doing it.) There’s an advocate organization in my town, and I pointed all of my loved ones in that direction for help understanding and dealing with what I was going through.

  11. saymber August 12, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

    Thank you for your courage and sharing this – it’s a topic not often coming from the victims perspective…another form of assault to me…..double insult/injury right? By sharing our experience, strength and hope we help others to do the same (learned this in AA). Reblogging!

  12. gina amos August 13, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    I commend your courage.

  13. Menstrual Mary August 14, 2015 at 3:48 am #

    I too am a rape survivor. Three “men” broke into the whore house that I was working at at the time. How did they break in, you ask? I have no idea. The guys had to be buzzed in, and we had a locking door, so maybe it was a set up? Who knows?? I did go to the police. They treated me very nicely and already happened to have pictures of the scumbag female “owners” of the house who used to let 20ish year old boys hang around in the place. (Not cool..) Anyways, I really loved your writing. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said. I have been there, and I understand. The only thing I do not understand is why you are still a “sex worker?!” (Prostitute..) I’m not trying to be offensive or rude, because I was one too. Prostitution is a dangerous game where we “think” we are in control of our sessions. I used to think that in order to keep myself sane when I was in that awful “business.” The truth is that a most men have the power to snap our necks in basically two seconds flat. That is the scary reality. It doesn’t matter if your working in an upscale hotel, brothel, or on the street, this is a reality. Why put yourself in danger? You could easily be sexually assaulted again. One of my “escort” friends went to an upscale hotel to see a john. The guy opened the door and let her in, then closed it and locked it. Next thing she knew, three other men jumped out of a closet. They gang raped and tortured her for hours and even filmed it! Men are inherently violent, most are misogynistic, and have sick fantasies of really hurting us. They think since we are prostitutes that we somehow “deserve” to be hurt and raped, and we don’t matter. “Who will find out,” they ask themselves. Especially with your sordid history of being an incest survivor and a sexual assault SURVIVOR, my advice is to concentrate on your art. You wrote a fantastic article, and are very talented, and just like me, you have something to say! You deserve to be safe. Prostitution is NEVER safe. Those johns could give a fuck if we live or die! I had some johns who would try and sneakily remove the condom during sex! They probably had a bad s.t.d. and wanted to give it to me, or get me pregnant. Most beg to NOT use a condom. I am lucky I went straight to the hospital after I was raped. I never caught h.i.v. or got pregnant, thank goodness. I was lucky. It’s your life, but from one prostitute to another, this job causes p.t.s.d., nightmares, increased possibility of drug and alcohol abuse, low self esteem, anger, etc. I have experienced it all. I am free now, and actually feel like a human being with a soul now. I’m not judging you, but if I can help one person survive the brutal “sex industry,” then I’ll be able to sleep better at night…Peace.

  14. surfenimwahnsinn August 14, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    A really great and brave post! Your recommendations can be really valuable and helpful for family and friends who want to do the right thing but just don’t know how. Thank you.

    • surfenimwahnsinn August 14, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

      And I’m really sorry it happened to you and wish you all the best and strength in your process of coping / coming to terms with it.

  15. youngprofessional August 16, 2015 at 3:29 pm #

    Thank you for being brave enough to talk about what happened to you. Thank you as well for your words of advice to be an ally

  16. robertmgoldstein September 3, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

    Reblogged this on Art by Rob Goldstein.

  17. Zeannaroux September 12, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    This has happened to me as a child and I feel that as I aged I have become numb to the conversation. As though it was just another event in my life, occasionally something will happen that would make me feel something I don’t want. This articles perfectly explains it. I will tell in my own time. I rather not remember all at once. If I talk about it and didn’t satisfy the person curiosity there are out of luck. I am not an exhibit were they can put their opinions into. If I feel like telling my story , I will tell them what I think they need to know.

    • animadi November 23, 2015 at 10:49 am #

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. You are so important and I am so honoured and witnessing what you are sharing with me.
      thank you.

  18. VintageMemoir September 23, 2015 at 1:49 am #

    I Am Very Sorry And Wish You Well.

  19. Exile from Guyland October 8, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Excellent post but very sorry you had that experience. Your requests for supportive conversation are well-articulated and I believe they apply to all sorts of conversations about sensitive issues – Seek first to listen, understand, and empathize.

  20. kangerude October 15, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

    Very brave of you to post this, I’m sorry this happened to you. Great post.

  21. An odd Bird November 25, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

    The post is really touching. I am really glad that women like us are speaking up more openly about such incidents.

  22. Alison Sattler November 25, 2015 at 7:44 pm #

    Thank you for your post, Jasmine! I really appreciate you turning your experience into something that I hope will be made into a widespread awareness campaign about how to help sexual assault survivors and direct social disgust toward the person who deserves it: the attacker! I’m sorry that this happened to you and thank you for offering a forum where others can learn from you and feel empowered. I agree with your suggestions for how to support a sexual abuse survivor 100%!!! It’s so ironic that I feel like I need to protect my abuser’s children from seeing their father as he was–a child molester–so they go on believing he was a “good father” rather than a pedophile. WHY do we feel this need to protect other blameless persons from the truth when doing so allows the abuser to be remembered how he would want rather than who he was. Should I tell his daughters about what he did to me or continue to keep them in the dark? He’s long gone, but the impact of what he did will be with me forever.

  23. secretlifequeen December 11, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

    Just now coming across this article. Thank you for your strength in putting this out there. I have spoke about this subject at length. In addition to the actual assault, we must often combat the judgement of others. During my rape trial, where I was drugged and raped in college, a juror asked about my drinking habits and if I got drunk often. I spent more time defending myself than getting justice. Needless to say, the rapist spent no time behind bars. I’m so sorry for every person who has ever lived through this. Follow my journey to heal at https://secretlifeofbeautyqueen.wordpress.com/

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Guest Post by Jasbina Misir – How To Be A Good Ally To Sexual Assault Survivors | As I see it - August 12, 2015

    […] Guest Post by Jasbina Misir – How To Be A Good Ally To Sexual Assault Survivors. […]

  2. growing an animal-inclusive culture of consent – Earthling Liberation Kollective – ELK - March 6, 2016

    […] it looks like defending survivors.  any effort towards developing a culture of consent needs to simultaneously be an effort at deconstructing of rape culture. one example of what that looks like is this: when a sexual assault is called out, commit to believing the survivor [16] and to not questioning their word or denying their experience of being harmed. further, it looks like being more prepared to respond to sexual assaults when they arise in our communities and activist scenes – so as to properly deal with the harm done and to ensure that others are not vulnerable or isolated due to inaction. read these resources on how to respond to sexual assault as a mass mobilization, and how to practice active listening skills with survivors, and how to be a good ally for survivors. […]

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