On Being An Upstander and Why it Matters.

On Being An Upstander and Why it Matters.

I honestly hadn't realised how much I'd accepted people throwing negative comments at me until someone stepped in and made it absolutely clear how NOT ok it was.

I hadn't realised how much it meant to me that other people didn't care enough to say anything until somebody did.

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On Stories That Matter

IMG_3185 Over the weekend, I did what was possibly THE scariest thing I've done in a very, VERY long time, and filmed a message of support and advice to Twenty-Five Year Old Me. In the video I shared really openly about why my last relationship ended, as well as the fall-out of everything that happened. I spent most of the day compiling useful information and resources to share alongside the video, as well as thinking about what I actually needed to get out - let alone actually filming.

The process of recording, was definitely emotional, but also somewhat cathartic. As soon as I hit "PUBLISH" I felt ok, and totally in control. I started receiving comments, texts and messages on Facebook from friends and Girl Gang members who had watched my video and been affected by it, and I was glad that I'd put it out there for the world.

The next day, however, I felt slammed by what I call 'A Feels Hangover', and spent much of the day feeling totally overwhelmed (aside from the time I got to share hugs and a catch up with epic Rad Bitch Jessi Anna, and her little man).

I started to worry about what the impact of sharing about something so dark (and let's be honest, negative), would have. I mean, I'm supposed to be empowering women, and surely that means sharing stuff which is positive, or inspiring, or you know, doesn't just make everyone cry?

Jordan decided that getting out of the apartment was in order, so took me out for brunch and a walk in the sunshine, which definitely helped.

After sitting with things for a little longer, I've realised that it's important for me to share this stuff - especially the dark, complicated and challenging experiences, not only because it's cathartic for me, but because my story matters.

If nothing else, from my experience, when I was Twenty-Five I wish that I'd had somebody who I felt that I could at least relate to - to look towards and see HOW they'd re-built their world, and what had worked for them.

I actually had an amazing conversation with my coaching friend Nell Boath the other day, about my general beliefs and philosophies on life and how the Universe works, which I feel ties in well here. I don't necessarily believe that anything happens to us for a specific (higher) reason, but I do believe that there is something to be created from every experience. As Carl Jung said, "I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become." I think that also because of the experiences I've had, I've always viewed life as a battle to fight my way through. While with time and age, I've learned that I don't always have to push back and fight so hard, because of this, the idea of letting the world beat me has just never been an option.

While I posting my videos was definitely scary, I didn't necessarily think it was brave, or feel particularly courageous. In many ways, I dealt with it the same way I do with everyday life with a stubbornness that says, "Okay, this is what it is, and I am going to beat it."

While it's extremely messed up that this happened to me, I'm extremely fortunate that I left and that I did find support through my friends and family. I'll continue to push and fight for a world where shit like this doesn't happen - let alone a world where it's accepted as normal. In the meantime, I've realised that my story matters, because right now there are people like Twenty-Five Year Old Me who need to feel less alone in the world. I guess my story matters, if only because by telling it - and being here to tell it, is the thing which needed to be created from this experience.

You can check the video out here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IizWA1mLUc

**TRIGGER WARNING**

THE CONTENT DISCUSSED IN THE VIDEO IS PRETTY HEAVY, I ALSO SWEAR A BIT, AND SOME PEOPLE MAY FIND IT UPSETTING. BELOW, I'LL LIST SOME SERVICES AVAILABLE. 

Lifeline Suicide Prevention Hotline: 13 11 14

Victorian CASA (Centres Against Sexual Assault): Sexual Assault Crisis Line 1800 806 292. For Sexual Assault Counselling Services 1800 RESPECT

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria: http://www.dvrcv.org.au/support-services

Sexual Assault Report Anonymously (SARA): http://www.sara.org.au/

I also want to let any of you out there who've experienced abuse or assault know that it doesn't matter what the circumstances are, IT'S NOT YOU'RE FAULT.

However you choose to deal with what's happened to you, is your choice and there is no wrong way of coping.

Talking about what's happened to you doesn't reduce your sense of ownership over your story, or the legitimacy of your feelings.

Some other resources I want to share include:

Leslie Morgan Steiner's TED Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/leslie_morga...

Suzy X's Comic 'I'm A Sexual Assault Survivor': http://bitchmagazine.org/post/comic-i...

Project Unbreakable: http://projectunbreakable.tumblr.com/

And some other really important stuff to remember about consent:

Consent explained simply: http://www.theloop.ca/this-woman-just...

Informed Consent MUST be given or it's rape. If you're passed out, asleep or intoxicated, you can not give informed consent.

If you're unsure, it means NO.

Silence means NO.

"Let's just cuddle", "Let's just go to sleep", "Not tonight", "I'm tired", "Stop!", "Wait...", "Slow down....", "I'm not ready...", "You're/I'm/We're too drunk/high" or any other variation, mean NO.

Resistance (unless it's part of a game) means NO.

The person (or people) you're with should be able to read your non-verbal responses, and be able to read the way YOU are reacting - not to be confused with how your body is responding. They should know if you are feeling uncomfortable, and they should stop. IMMEDIATELY. Ask if you're ok, and not try to push things.

You have every right to change your mind, AT ANY TIME, (even in the middle of sex) and if your boundaries are not respected, it is rape.

The absence of "NO" doesn't mean "YES".

If you're under the age of consent (which varies greatly, and is kind of arbitrary), then it's rape, particularly if the abuser is older than 18 and in a position of authority.

Nobody should ever pressure or threaten you to say yes.

Your experiences are your own, and nobody has the right to make you question the validity of your feelings about them.

#Dear Me: A Rad Bitch's Message to Her Younger Self on International Women's Day

11045370_681622018626348_123675326538496658_nToday is International Women's Day, so inspired by my friend Yen over on The Yennipenni Channel, and after saying for months that I wanted to create videos, I've finally pulled up my Big Girl Pants, said, "Fuck it!" and rambled to my webcam for a good 10 minutes.

Obviously, uploading it to YouTube and hitting publish without editing or re-watching it was the only way I was ever going to get this bad-babe out to the world without hitting delete and bailing on the whole idea, and I'm not entirely sure that I was coherent so please, "Go gentle on me, Internet."

You can check out my video here, if you're so inclined:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10SyBzibE1E

*If my video triggers any negative responses, or upsets you and you'd like to speak with someone, I've listed some of the services available within Australia, including Lifeline and Beyond Blue. You can find their contact details at the end of the post.

The overall idea was to send a message of things I would like my younger self to have known, and I chose to address my message to Nine Year Old Kym.

I chose that age pretty specifically because that was the age that I remember having absorbed so much of the negativity around me, in the way girls spoke to one another - to me specifically - and internalised it not only as acceptable, but as NORMAL.

Looking back now, having done a shit-tonne of work developing my own sense of self worth and becoming confident in who I am, I can see that whenever I engaged in Girl on Girl Hate (and sadly it took years to truly stop engaging in this kind of behaviour), it was more a reflection of how I felt at the time, than of those said Hate was directed towards.

I think it's also really important to recognise that this kind of behaviour is something which our culture still very much ENCOURAGES. Seriously, think about all of the toxic negativity we see spewing off the covers of trashy magazines, on TV, and out of newspapers. Anyway, this is a big part of why I now make such a considered effort to encourage women and girls to support one another - and why in The Girl Gang, I try to promote the idea that Rad Bitches Stick Together.

I also don't own a TV anymore, and I rarely read the news, because I'm trying to limit my exposure to things which frustrate or piss me off. I never buy trashy magazines and if I feel like indulging in a little pop culture, I stick with titles like, The Collective, Womankind, Yen, Peppermint, Frankie, or Bitch, because they offer well rounded, complex and nuanced representations and interpretations of the world we live in.

I think that this is also part of why I've always felt at home within fringe communities filled with artists, goths, punks and metal heads - even though many of those communities are super filled with dudes, I always felt accepted, rather than competed against.

RADBITCHESBANNER

Over the years, I've learned to be far more patient, understanding, and compassionate, but I still get super worked up about a bunch of issues - most of which tend to centre around inequality and systems of oppression.

I'm super fortunate to know (and know of) a number of incredibly wise and articulate people who frequently write and speak on these topics, so today, I'm going to share links to some of the pieces I feel are worth considering today.

My friend Penny attended Amy Gray's International Women's Day Opening Address during the week, and wrote about 11 Ways Amy Gray Inspired her.

Last year, my lovely friends Stevie and Luc - who collectively formed Team Earthling, explored International Women's Day from a vegan perspective, along with some of the ways in which animal rights organisations fail as an intersectional movement, in their podcast Why Intersectionality Matters.

I would also encourage everyone to check out Amy McGuire's piece for New Matilda, All Feminists Are Created Equal, But Some Are More Equal Than Others which discusses the unique forms and systems of violence experienced by Indigenous Australian Women.

Take the time to learn about the history of International Women's Day and it's roots as a revolutionary movement, and the relevance it still holds today. This article written by Rebecca Winson, was published last year on New Statesman.

I'd also encourage you to learn about what actions YOU can take to prevent violence against women and children, and the ways in which you can offer support to those who are currently experiencing, or have experienced male perpetrated violence through initiatives such as Our Watch.

Check out Annabel Crabb's piece on being a Proud Bad Feminist.

Or learn about the Radical Brownies, based in Oakland, CA. who aim to "empower young girls of color so that they step into their collective power, brilliance and leadership in order to make the world a more radical place."

Now having put my first video up, I'm feeling a little braver about the whole thing, and I've decided that I'd like to send a message to both 17 Year Old Kym, and 25 Year Old Kym.

How have you celebrated International Women's Day this year?

What message would you like to send to a younger version of you?

In the meantime, let's all stick together, learn from, and support one another - even when we disagree - that's the beauty of open dialogue.

xx

Kym.

 

Contact Details for support services and resources available in Australia:

Lifeline Suicide Prevention Hotline: 13 11 14

Victorian CASA (Centres Against Sexual Assault): Sexual Assault Crisis Line 1800 806 292. For Sexual Assault Counselling Services 1800 RESPECT

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV)

Domestic Violence Victoria

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC)

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636, an Australian "national initiative to raise awareness of anxiety and depression, providing resources for recovery, management and resilience."

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