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"Was/is your abusive partner a high-profile activist? Does your abusive girlfriend’s best friend staff the domestic violence hotline? Have you successfully kicked an abuser out of your group? Did your anti-police brutality group fear retaliation if you went to the cops about another organizer’s assault? Have you found solutions where accountability didn’t mean isolation "Was/is your abusive partner a high-profile activist? Does your abusive girlfriend’s best friend staff the domestic violence hotline? Have you successfully kicked an abuser out of your group? Did your anti-police brutality group fear retaliation if you went to the cops about another organizer’s assault? Have you found solutions where accountability didn’t mean isolation for either of you? Was the 'healing circle' a bunch of bullshit? Is the local trans community so small that you don’t want you or your partner to lose it? "We wanted to hear about what worked and what didn’t, what survivors and their supporters learned, what they wish folks had done, what they never want to have happen again. We wanted to hear about folks’ experiences confronting abusers, both with cops and courts and with methods outside the criminal justice system." —The Revolution Starts at Home collective Long demanded and urgently needed, The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities finally breaks the dangerous silence surrounding the “secret” of intimate violence within social justice circles. This watershed collection of stories and strategies tackles the multiple forms of violence encountered right where we live, love, and work for social change—and delves into the nitty-gritty on how we might create safety from abuse without relying on the state. Drawing on over a decade of community accountability work, along with its many hard lessons and unanswered questions, The Revolution Starts at Home offers potentially life-saving alternatives for creating survivor safety while building a movement where no one is left behind. Ching-In Chen is the author of The Heart's Traffic. Kundiman Fellow Jai Dulani is an interdisciplinary storyteller and activist/educator. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is the author of Consensual Genocide. Andrea Smith is the author of Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide.


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"Was/is your abusive partner a high-profile activist? Does your abusive girlfriend’s best friend staff the domestic violence hotline? Have you successfully kicked an abuser out of your group? Did your anti-police brutality group fear retaliation if you went to the cops about another organizer’s assault? Have you found solutions where accountability didn’t mean isolation "Was/is your abusive partner a high-profile activist? Does your abusive girlfriend’s best friend staff the domestic violence hotline? Have you successfully kicked an abuser out of your group? Did your anti-police brutality group fear retaliation if you went to the cops about another organizer’s assault? Have you found solutions where accountability didn’t mean isolation for either of you? Was the 'healing circle' a bunch of bullshit? Is the local trans community so small that you don’t want you or your partner to lose it? "We wanted to hear about what worked and what didn’t, what survivors and their supporters learned, what they wish folks had done, what they never want to have happen again. We wanted to hear about folks’ experiences confronting abusers, both with cops and courts and with methods outside the criminal justice system." —The Revolution Starts at Home collective Long demanded and urgently needed, The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities finally breaks the dangerous silence surrounding the “secret” of intimate violence within social justice circles. This watershed collection of stories and strategies tackles the multiple forms of violence encountered right where we live, love, and work for social change—and delves into the nitty-gritty on how we might create safety from abuse without relying on the state. Drawing on over a decade of community accountability work, along with its many hard lessons and unanswered questions, The Revolution Starts at Home offers potentially life-saving alternatives for creating survivor safety while building a movement where no one is left behind. Ching-In Chen is the author of The Heart's Traffic. Kundiman Fellow Jai Dulani is an interdisciplinary storyteller and activist/educator. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is the author of Consensual Genocide. Andrea Smith is the author of Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide.

30 review for The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities

  1. 4 out of 5

    J. Gonzalez- Blitz

    A seemingly necessary anthology (EDIT AFTER READING CHRYSALIS COLLECTIVE ESSAY THIS IS NOT NECESSARY AT ALL), I picked this up at Word Up! a pop up bookstore in Washington Heights. I'm going to jot down thoughts on each essay as I read them. 1) Reclaiming Queer & Trans Safety - Morgan Bassichis Calls for dismantling of all governmental institutions that have thus far failed to keep us safe(police, prisons), but doesn't offer any realistic alternatives. Let's all confront rapists and abusers in ou A seemingly necessary anthology (EDIT AFTER READING CHRYSALIS COLLECTIVE ESSAY THIS IS NOT NECESSARY AT ALL), I picked this up at Word Up! a pop up bookstore in Washington Heights. I'm going to jot down thoughts on each essay as I read them. 1) Reclaiming Queer & Trans Safety - Morgan Bassichis Calls for dismantling of all governmental institutions that have thus far failed to keep us safe(police, prisons), but doesn't offer any realistic alternatives. Let's all confront rapists and abusers in our community and tell them (without shaming them) that they're not very nice? Yeah right. Also highly critical of the LGBTQ community for fighting for rights she doesn't deem important, such as marriage or inclusion in the military. I guess in her revolution people can be free so long as they want what SHE thinks they should want? Moving right along... 2)Ending Opression. Building Solidarity. Creating Community Solutions. - Meiver De La Cruz & Carol Gomez - Discusses the difficulty in confronting domestic and sexual violence in ethnic communities where women face both traditional patriarchal attitudes and the need to appear as a united group in the face of bigotry and fear of deportation. Personal anecdotes bring home the necessary (for many more academic feminist types) reminder that these problems affect real human lives, they're not just concepts to analyze and dissect. Also includes lists of ways for allies to be supportive to survivors. I liked this. 3)It Takes Ass To Whip Ass - Miss Major, Jessica Yee,& Mariko Passion - Roundtable on the violence faced by sex workers, not only from johns, but from police, the state, even poverty itself or Big Pharma's response to AIDS as forms of violence. These women don't live in academia, they live in reality. Straight up discussion on homemade street weapons at one point, I was a bit surprised the publisher allowed this to be included, but you know what? "Learning self defense is anti-feminist because men shouldn't rape in the first place" hasn't been my reality. Or theirs. Or a lot of people's. I'm sure reinforced, brick-packing purses will cause major brick-shitting among theoretical feminists, and that's kind of cracking me up right now. 4)I Am Because We Are - Alexis Pauline Gumbs - Alexis is involved with an organization called UBUNTU that aids survivors of domestic violence, particularly within communities of color. Important work, but this particular essay doesn't really address violence within progressive or activist communities, or even the disconnect some activists have, as in the previous essay. 5)Homewrecker - Gina deVries - Memoir about her surviving a relationship with the kind of entitled, critical,abusive personality I know all too well. The difference is that the abuser is another radical queer feminist girl like herself-or at least fancies herself to be.She's actually controlling and threatened by anything Gina does that doesn't fit her idea of what a proper mainstream lesbian is like. What I especially like about this essay is that it implicitly illustrates that although someone may be unconventional, kinky, fetishy--it doesn't mean that want to be abused. Boundaries and consent, everybody, boundaries and consent. What made me uncomfortable was that the girlfriend's self-injury is often thrown in in the same paragraphs as her abusiveness towards Gina. These are two separate issues. 6)The Secret Joy Of Accountability - Shannon Perez-Darby Muddled and potentially victim shaming ruminations on personal accountability within abusive relationships. Something about how she did things she wasn't proud of in the course of surviving and...? Smells a little close to an abusive boyfriend rallying cry of "you need to look at your part in this too". Nobody's a perfect person, but that may be a separate issue from whether or not you have an abusive partner. Also talks about getting batterers to hold themselves accountable, but in my experience, they act contrite when they get caught, they don't try to make lasting behavioral changes. I took back a star for this, sorry. 7)Seeking Asylum;On Intimate Partner Violence & Disability - Peggy Munson -put back the star after reading this. Since becoming involved with a disabled man (now my husband) my eyes have been opened to various assumptions and things people think they can get away with, some subtle , some blatant, with someone who has a disability. Munson's heartbreaking essay emphasizes that not all disabilities are one in the same, and her's in particular are ones that even organizations to help the disabled don't always have resources for. Oftentimes abusers become her lifeline, because they are, even as they abuse and control her, willing to go out of their way to help meet her needs, keeping her reliant. This essay was actually frightening to read. 8)There Is Another Way - Ana-Maurine Lara Ana begins with a list of survivor's rights and responsibilities, followed by her misgivings that the idea of "survivor's responsibilities" may read as victim blaming. The list doesn't read that way at all though, it seems more like a call for mindfulness of the baggage that abuse can leave behind, and how it may direct our behaviors. Ana is very observant, connecting the microcosm of an abusive relationship with the macrocosm of societal abuses like imperialism, slavery, homophobia, etc. She demonstrates the importance of speaking out against abuse in an anecdote where she begins to communicate about her abusive ex to learn that others in her community have had similar experiences with the same woman. They are able to support each other and strengthen their community. I will say this though--in the same anecdote she mentions a friend "Sarah" who invites both she and her abuser to the same party without informing either one, and claims to have done so in some sort of neutrality. I had a "Sarah" in my life (note the past tense there)who pulled this very kind of shit--in the interest of stirring up drama and keeping her "friends" in emotionally vulnerable positions. Don't look for excuses for her behavior. "Sarah" is another kind of abuser in her own right. 9)Manifesto-Vanessa Huang Brief and rhythmic word association poem. Uplifting. 10)Without My Consent - Bran Fenner Excellent essay discussing notions of consent. Is it consent if the only reason a person doesn't say "no" or "stop", is due to what reprisals, in the form of guilt-trips (or emotional abuse) they fear may occur later? I'd write more about this, but I seriously fucking hate him and I'm about to throw up. 11)A Sliding Stance - N. Faced with violence in a queer relationship (the author's lover is a transperson, the author makes mention of "femme" and "passing" privileges, leaving it open whether she is a cis or trans woman.)N. struggles with the idea of having to turn to the court system that is prejudiced against she and her lover to help her. 12)When Your Parents Made You - Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha Simultaneously beautiful and tragic poem. When someone unique and out of the ordinary turns out to be abusive as well. Also brings up the question: when does your story become our story? Or overlay into my story? 13)Freedom & Strategy/Trauma & Resistance - Timothy Colm - Another testimonial from a survivor, this one a transperson who was sexually abused in high school, before transitioning, by a male "friend" looking to somehow affirm heterosexuality through this. Posits the dubious possibility of a sincerely sorry rapist (sorry, I still think they hang out with Santa and the Tooth Fairy), but more important, that nonetheless survivors need, and have a right to, safe public space, which includes not having to be confronted with their abusers. 14)Beautiful Difficult Powerful - The Chrysalis Collective. Yeah, I can't blame any of them for not wanting to put their name on this shit. Rape apologism couched in smiley PC language is still rape apologism. I took back all the stars but one because of this tripe. Basically a woman in their community is raped by some activist douchebag but everyone thinks jail is bad (which it is, but rapists need to be away from humans), which leads to several pages that would have been more useful as toilet paper devoted to how they planned to "transform" the rapist in the nicey-nicest way possible, without "shaming" it (like rapists shouldn't be ashamed) and then what? Hard to say because there's no outcome to their passive complacent little experiment given. My guess is it pretended to act sorry and she had to continue to deal with seeing it around, probably raping other women. Lots of drivel about approaching the rapist with caring and compassion and acknowledging it's humanity (it's a RAPIST! What's in the catbox has more humanity!!) Have I mentioned lately I'm an angry vengeful rape survivor, mine killed several of it's other victims (children), and hippies are really fucking stupid? Yeah, well, whatever, I'm going to keep mentioning it till I cease to encounter asinine shit such as this. It ends with some footnote about how they prefer to call rapists by the vague and wishy washy term "aggressor" because "rapist" is too "criminal based"(Um, cuz they're criminals?) and I guess the word "rapist" doesn't fill their sheltered little hearts with enough sunshine granola and smiling unicorn dicks or whatever. Fuck this. 15)Making Our Stories Matter - Rachel Herzing & Isaac Ontiveros This was better. A collective stressing the emphasis on survivors of violence speaking out & telling their stories. The authors say that most groups only address these things after the damage is done, or the situation has escalated, and see the importance in families and communities taking part in eradicating a culture where these types of abuse are permitted by what they teach their children, and the messages they send in how they handle such situations within their community. While the authors don't claim to have all the answers, I feel, speaking as a survivor, that I'd feel safer with them than that last bunch of assholes. 16)What Does It Feel Like When Change Finally Comes? - Gaurav Jashnani, RJ Maccani, & Alan Grieg What does it feel like? I dunno, since judging from the timeline and events described in this NYC-set story, I'm almost certain I know who the rapist they're trying to save here is, simply from multiple warnings and recountings of this I, as a woman, received from, ummm, I dunno, virtually everybody in the activist circles I've been introduced to? Even they admit the sad-di-est Mr. X "wasn't living up to his commitment in the circle". I guess they thought by calling him "Mr. X" New Yorkers wouldn't figure it out. EPIC FAIL, healing-circle hippies! 17)Think. Re-think. - Connie Burk I put a star back for this essay. After oblivious and likely-privileged hippies carrying on about their "non-shaming confrontational blah blah blah" indirect complicitness in abuse, Burk is refreshingly blunt: Yes, the justice system of the State is flawed and often fails victims. BUT SO DOES SO-CALLED "COMMUNITY ACCOUNTABILITY". She discusses how time and time again she's watched untrained, self-important, ill-equipped activists fail to meet the need of victims and even empower the abusers. She points out the hypocrisy in which this trial and (mostly) error process, which is employed for social experimentation in situations of gendered violence, but not other wrongs such as theft, drunk driving, etc. Again, unlike the useless "don't-shame-the-rapist" hippies, Burk isn't arrogant enough to believe she has all the answers, but she has some very strong suggestions, such as fostering stronger senses of community and communal ethics, and recognizing the rights and the agency of individuals, before jumping off half-cocked as some self-appointed justice league. Or practical suggestions for helping victims to truly take the control of their lives back as people, rather than just abstracting them into an idea or object, much as abusers do. Amongst overly-positive movements unwilling to acknowledge the possibility of PTSD (when dealing with victims) or the possibility of sociopathy (when dealing with perpetrators), this essay reads like a humane and also realistic ray of hope. The book closes with a Resources section which is actually a series of checklists of how our culture (or even sub-cultures) can be complicit in gender oppression, and things individuals can do to not play into that, which made for good food for thought.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Roxanna Banana

    I think this is essential reading, but with a critical mind. Maybe i don't believe in restorative justice, maybe i think there are too many people in the world. I think intimate violence needs to be addressed more often, but I think that white males SHOULD have the system used against them. Why does it need to be used against racialized people only? In the Chrysalis collective's story, a young activist of colour was sexually assaulted by a white male and they decided to use restorative justice. I think this is essential reading, but with a critical mind. Maybe i don't believe in restorative justice, maybe i think there are too many people in the world. I think intimate violence needs to be addressed more often, but I think that white males SHOULD have the system used against them. Why does it need to be used against racialized people only? In the Chrysalis collective's story, a young activist of colour was sexually assaulted by a white male and they decided to use restorative justice. I was so mad, they even admitted that they focused more on the rapist than the survivor. FUCK THAT.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tinea

    In the movement striving to create alternative, restorative forms of justice that respect survivors' needs and wishes while simultaneously respecting and embracing the humanity of aggressors, we are... somewhere muddying and confusing. This book lays out what has been tried and what has been theorized, and while it's clear that the visions have yet to pan out perfectly in practice, the experiences laid out here are practical enough that you start to see how the paradigm could work, could really In the movement striving to create alternative, restorative forms of justice that respect survivors' needs and wishes while simultaneously respecting and embracing the humanity of aggressors, we are... somewhere muddying and confusing. This book lays out what has been tried and what has been theorized, and while it's clear that the visions have yet to pan out perfectly in practice, the experiences laid out here are practical enough that you start to see how the paradigm could work, could really manifest itself if we just keep tweaking and trying and honoring mistakes and people. We are almost there some of the time. And yet, our best case scenarios still fall short of justice. There is work to do. The most important lesson I got out of this is that the sexual assault accountability processes that I have supported were theoretically sound but lacked intentionality and patience in their application. This shit is not easy, quick, or intuitive; to initiate these processes is to initiate a long long period of focused study alongside people (survivors and aggressors) who are undergoing intense emotional pain and hopefully healing. It is a big, overwhelming deal to do right. But it can be done-- particularly within a larger culture of personal accountability. The final word in The Revolution Starts at Home is that we may not quite be there yet... but to get there, we need to foster space for all of us, everyone, to hold ourselves accountable for our actions, to commit to constant education about the impacts of our words and behaviors, and to take the personal responsibility to give reparations and make concrete behavioral changes when we fuck up. If we can be accountable to each other in all aspects of life, the steps needed to hold ourselves accountable--and to push and support others into taking this accountability-- for great wrongs make more sense and are more attainable. It is a bigger project than maybe I thought. It is a worthwhile project and the direction is right. An aside, it is interesting to me that the place of restorative justice in our lives comes first in the sphere of interpersonal, domestic, and sexual violence. This is where activists have forever been pushing for personal accountability from other activists, where structures influence action but cannot be enough to excuse it. These lessons will be applicable to the broader world and to greater forms of violence, but we start here because these are the manifestations of structural violence on our bodies, from our bodies: that which we do to and is done to us by our comrades. Other resources on accountability processes: - Incite! Women of Color Against Violence toolkit - Accountability steps for people working to change patriarchal or abusive behavior - Thinking Through Perpetrator Accountability - Northeast Anarchist Network resources on Sexual Assault - A Guide for Organizers: Creating a culture of accountability & survivor support at Mass Mobilizations - Philly Stands Up and their Resource List

  4. 4 out of 5

    woody fanon

    five stars lit but I gave it a four for one reason: to confront abusers without support from qualified individuals is problematic. Sure, some abusive activists are capable of seeing the errors of their way but to determine that a meeting with peers will somehow encourage the abuser to stop is absurd. Self awareness and intelligence will not be the end all for abusive activists. come on now.

  5. 5 out of 5

    jess

    seeking asylum: on intimate partner violence & disability (peggy munson) and think. re-think: accountable communities (connie burk) were two i especially want to return to but all the essays provide really important analytics, tools, and examples. there really is no magical "community accountability" (especially one that does not make women repeated test cases for violence and accountability) but i hope that tools like this one can help us be brave enough to set new precedents and keep building. seeking asylum: on intimate partner violence & disability (peggy munson) and think. re-think: accountable communities (connie burk) were two i especially want to return to but all the essays provide really important analytics, tools, and examples. there really is no magical "community accountability" (especially one that does not make women repeated test cases for violence and accountability) but i hope that tools like this one can help us be brave enough to set new precedents and keep building.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Cavar

    (warning: rant ahead) Not going to rate this because it was actually very useful to me, but its usefulness was grounded in the fact that several of these essays affirmed my increasing suspicion and frankly, disgust toward "restorative justice," wherein the "transformation" of the predator is placed on par with the material and psychological safety of the survivor AND other community members. Yeah, I'm done with that. Of course, there are situations of miscommunication, unintended hurt, things sai (warning: rant ahead) Not going to rate this because it was actually very useful to me, but its usefulness was grounded in the fact that several of these essays affirmed my increasing suspicion and frankly, disgust toward "restorative justice," wherein the "transformation" of the predator is placed on par with the material and psychological safety of the survivor AND other community members. Yeah, I'm done with that. Of course, there are situations of miscommunication, unintended hurt, things said and done in anger that can later be talked-out. But some people....they are predators. They are repeat offenders. They are, dare I say, "monsters," much as this work hates the term. It's not an inherent thing, no one is "born that way," but some people have solidified that aspect of themselves to the extent that they are quite simply not worth our time! Imagine how many more resources we could be providing to survivors if we stopped handwringing over "disposability," when those disposed of are, unequivocally, worthy of disposal? All that rant being said, several essays here are worth a read, and the survivor testimonies in particular are affecting and illuminating. The book itself, though...a prime example of "restorative justice" as, in reality, a means of upholding structural violence by meeting acts of aggression grounded in patriarchy, white supremacy, cisheterosexism, ableism, etc. with "compassion" and an opportunity at "restoration." No. I'm not going to restore your undeserved power in the name of "good leftism"!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    It’s not perfect but there is such a need for this compilation, and so little out there that discusses & tackles how to deal with sexual assault and abuse within activist/progressive/radical/organizing communities, that I’ll readily take this, with all of its imperfections. Imagine if everyone read this and there was 50 or 100 books on this topic? Essential reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maddee

    Really good. Amazing combinations of survivor stories and personal writing with people who have a lot of experience within collectives, accountability circles, not-for-profits, social justice circles, organisations and queer communities about how they went about dealing with harm, what things worked, how they approached the situation, how it failed, and what their ethos was. The "practical" stuff wasn't separated from the emotional and holistic. I love how this book approaches the complicated wa Really good. Amazing combinations of survivor stories and personal writing with people who have a lot of experience within collectives, accountability circles, not-for-profits, social justice circles, organisations and queer communities about how they went about dealing with harm, what things worked, how they approached the situation, how it failed, and what their ethos was. The "practical" stuff wasn't separated from the emotional and holistic. I love how this book approaches the complicated ways that abuse and power operate in radical and marginalised communities that carry a lot of trauma. It's massively loving and compassionate.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mavaddat

    This book is a collection of personal memoirs and reflections by a cross section of young activists on the subject of interpersonal sexual violence. Except for in one case, the book's authors employ opaque placeholder language like "community accountability" as a panacea cure-all that will, in the fullness of time, realise the optimum balance of justice and mercy in dealing with those accused of violence. The book has no suggestions or hope for corrective, however, and "community accountability" This book is a collection of personal memoirs and reflections by a cross section of young activists on the subject of interpersonal sexual violence. Except for in one case, the book's authors employ opaque placeholder language like "community accountability" as a panacea cure-all that will, in the fullness of time, realise the optimum balance of justice and mercy in dealing with those accused of violence. The book has no suggestions or hope for corrective, however, and "community accountability" is never even remotely articulated in concrete steps as a process or mechanism for resolving such violence. Indeed, the book does not outline or hint at any procedure or means to addressing the problems it identifies through anecdotes. It is an intervention of "me too" rather than "now what". On the contrary, at multiple places, the authors express their contempt for procedural justice ("due process" in USA or "fundamental justice" in Canada), and it seems they are advocating for a kind of atonement ceremony (where the person complained about is by that fact alone "the guilty" and person who complained is, similarly, by that fact alone "the victim") rather than any sincere attempt at preserving truth or achieving justice as a matter of genuine investigation.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    There are some really insightful, thoughtful pieces in this anthology. I really appreciated the essays that got real about the pitfalls of attempts at restorative justice/accountability (shout out to the essay by Connie Burk). The pieces about peoples' personal experiences with IPV are also highlights of this anthology. But, as with all books about transformative justice/whatever I've come across, there is also victim-blaming garbage that raises my blood pressure sky high. Like the god-awful Chr There are some really insightful, thoughtful pieces in this anthology. I really appreciated the essays that got real about the pitfalls of attempts at restorative justice/accountability (shout out to the essay by Connie Burk). The pieces about peoples' personal experiences with IPV are also highlights of this anthology. But, as with all books about transformative justice/whatever I've come across, there is also victim-blaming garbage that raises my blood pressure sky high. Like the god-awful Chrysalis Collective piece. Just read it for yourself. This is one of the rare times I wish I could go back in time and un-read something. God, there's just so much holier than thou ranting about how victims should sit in a bit circle with their abuser/rapist and all their buds and talk it out. It's so insulting to victims, especially the condescending remarks about how don't you dare go to the police/courts/social services agencies because they're BAD and a TRUE ACTIVIST would NEVER call the police, even if someone attacked them! Basically, I'm still not convinced that transformative justice is anything more than a way of coddling the feelings of shitty men and making women feel like shit for (god forbid) wanting abusers to be punished.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joy Messinger

    This was an important but hard read for me. I have a complicated relationship with community-based solutions violence & harm, deeply believing in their necessity as a prison abolitionist but also having witnessed the many times they haven't worked for me & others. That aside, I think this collection can give activists & organizers a lot to think about, discuss, practice, retweak, try again. I was most moved by "Ending Oppression. Building Solidarity. Creating Community Solutions." and "Seeking A This was an important but hard read for me. I have a complicated relationship with community-based solutions violence & harm, deeply believing in their necessity as a prison abolitionist but also having witnessed the many times they haven't worked for me & others. That aside, I think this collection can give activists & organizers a lot to think about, discuss, practice, retweak, try again. I was most moved by "Ending Oppression. Building Solidarity. Creating Community Solutions." and "Seeking Asylum" because of the former's concrete tools & processes and the latter's focus on ableism & disability justice. I know for myself, I needed time for healing from acute trauma before I could dive in to this volume because of how some of the language has felt / does feel like victim-blaming, making false equivalencies, and expectations of forgiveness or emotional labor in order to prove one's "wokeness", but I think the viewpoints offered can add to a toolbox of approaches when thinking about how to approach harm & violence within activist communities.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anjali

    "While 'reverse isms' are not possible because of the lack of institutional power to subjugate folks in privileged groups, oppression (and the intersections of its various manifestations) does not operate in the linear or binary manner frequently represented in 'power and privilege charts.' This can present challenges to activist groups attempting to apply ideological frameworks when evaluating and responding to abuse in intimate relationships. The personal is political, but the personal is fran "While 'reverse isms' are not possible because of the lack of institutional power to subjugate folks in privileged groups, oppression (and the intersections of its various manifestations) does not operate in the linear or binary manner frequently represented in 'power and privilege charts.' This can present challenges to activist groups attempting to apply ideological frameworks when evaluating and responding to abuse in intimate relationships. The personal is political, but the personal is frankly a lot messier than our dogmas can articulate."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Broadsnark

    It is one thing to talk about a world without police and quite another to try and figure out how to resolve conflicts in different ways. The essays in this book are not universally excellent, but this is a really good start for anyone thinking about these issues.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pragya Esh

    Love it, but I was craving more on what to actually do when people in activist communities use violence against their partners.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Danni Green

    This is an extremely important collection of writings addressing the realities of intimate violence in activist communities and what we can do about it. Authorship includes writers of many different genders, races, nationalities, dis/ability statuses, class/economic status, sexual/romantic orientations, and other axes of privilege/marginalization. cw: includes detailed/graphic descriptions of individual and systemic violence experienced and/or witnessed by the people writing about it

  16. 5 out of 5

    Broadsnark

    It is one thing to have a critique of the way our criminal injustice system and communities handle harmful acts. It is an entirely different thing to actually have the answer when people ask what you should do instead. Nobody really has that answer, but the more we hear about what is being tried - successes and failures - the closer we will come to putting together a better alternative. Not all of the different parts of this book spoke to me, but it doesn't matter because we need as much of this It is one thing to have a critique of the way our criminal injustice system and communities handle harmful acts. It is an entirely different thing to actually have the answer when people ask what you should do instead. Nobody really has that answer, but the more we hear about what is being tried - successes and failures - the closer we will come to putting together a better alternative. Not all of the different parts of this book spoke to me, but it doesn't matter because we need as much of this trying and evaluating as we can get.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Quin Rich

    Absolutely brilliant, groundbreaking, and urgently needed. I only wish that we had more texts like this, especially in the form of academic empirical and theoretical research so that I had something to cite!!!!!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Really essential for any community organizing. This was recommended to me by a friend, and it touches upon the intersections of queer identities and power dynamics. This is going to be helpful for the community organizing

  19. 5 out of 5

    South End Press

    Make your movement: Support indie publishers and indie bookstores directly, whenever you can! And does your local library have a copy yet? If not, remember your right to request a purchase.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Law

    More stories, more experiences please! We need to share these strategies more!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lev

    i'm really glad i read this book. it offers many powerful, useful ideas AND strategies, which isn't always easy to find. i'm really glad i read this book. it offers many powerful, useful ideas AND strategies, which isn't always easy to find.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Rosen

    I first read The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (ed. Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha), in 2015, not long out of an abusive relationship, and it helped me make sense of what I’d experienced. In it, I found people who had been in situations like mine, caught between oppression from society at large and abuse in their own relationships and communities. I returned to it this year for hope and guidance in dealing with v I first read The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (ed. Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha), in 2015, not long out of an abusive relationship, and it helped me make sense of what I’d experienced. In it, I found people who had been in situations like mine, caught between oppression from society at large and abuse in their own relationships and communities. I returned to it this year for hope and guidance in dealing with violence and abuse in my own communities, and it continues to deliver. The Revolution Starts at Home is an anthology of essays and a few poems about people surviving and resisting violence, seeking alternatives to the state’s dangerous and often inadequate interventions. It’s divided into four sections: “Safety at the Intersections of Intimate, Community, and State Violence,” “On Survivorship,” “(Re)claiming Body, (Re)claiming Space,” and “We Are Ready Now.” As in life, the boundaries between these sections are fluid and a little bit arbitrary. My favorite section, in 2015 and now, is “On Survivorship.” Gina de Vries’ essay “Homewrecker” describes a relationship with a lesbian who endlessly criticized her and created an us-against-the-world dynamic in which boys were the enemy and bisexuality was both too queer and not queer enough. Biphobic abuse had been one of the hardest parts of my own relationship to talk about, because people who barely understand abuse in queer relationships are doubly unprepared for when lesbians weaponize biphobia against their partners. “Homewrecker” made me feel seen and understood in a way I desperately needed. Right after “Homewrecker” is “The Secret Joy of Accountability: Self-Accountability as a Building Block for Change” by Shannon Perez-Darby. I remembered this essay as another for my favorites from 2015, but its title scared me when I returned to it. Accountability for survivors? That sounds dangerously like victim-blaming. But it’s not. “Accountability” continues to strike me as a peculiar word choice, but the essay is about the fact that survivors make choices, even when those choices are constrained by violence against them, and that survivors’ resistance can look like abuse if you’re focused on individual actions instead of patterns of power and control in the relationship. This is crucial for anti-violence activists to understand, and it helped me release fear and guilt from my own relationship, too. The next essay, “Seeking Asylum: On Intimate Partner Violence and Disability” by Peggy Munson, offers a crucial analysis of how unmet survival needs and the difficulty of accessing reliable caregiving makes disabled people susceptible to abuse and may even make sometimes-caring, sometimes-abusive partners more desirable than the alternative. It also discusses specific tactics abusers may use to maintain control over disabled victims, in connection with abusers’ more general strategies. I won’t go over the rest of the book in such fine detail, but it contains reflections on survivors’ and community organizers’ guiding principles and language, their stories, and the specifics of their intervention strategies. The writers move smoothly and consciously between the general and the personal, so readers can observe practices that could be applied in other situations as well as how communities adapt those practices in their specific work. The Revolution Starts at Home is full of different organizations’ and communities’ step-by-step models for supporting survivors and holding abusers accountable. It helps me feel like there’s a way forward. Beyond Peggy Munson’s essay, disability rarely comes up in any way but survivors’ trauma. I long for resources about how to navigate situations of abuse in which two disabled people accuse each other of abuse and symptoms such as brainfog, memory problems, and dissociation complicate an already difficult situation. I want resources to help me distinguish between nonnormative but respectful disabled ways of being and relating in relationships and behavior that’s influenced by disability and crosses the line. This book can’t give me that. The Revolution Starts at Home includes an essay by a trans guy (“Freedom & Strategy/Trauma & Resistance” by Timothy Colm), but it’s largely a letdown on trans issues and occasionally further off the mark. Several essays mention genderqueer people as a vulnerable population, but they don’t really dig into the specific ways transness influences abuse situations. One of the resources in the back refers to society privileging “males and the male-identified” and devaluing “female and the female-identified,” which raises some cis-as-default red flags, and “Without My Consent” by Bran Frenner invokes the incoherent and transmisogynistic concept of “male bodied privilege.” Still, The Revolution Starts at Home is a vital and foundational text for anyone experiencing or healing from intimate violence and anyone looking for preventative or reactive solutions. Wherever you are in your understanding of these issues, this book will give you information, strategies, and the hope to carry on. I’m glad to have it in my collection and expect to return to it many more times.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    After many dog-eared pages, I have to give this book a solid 4 stars. It's a fast read, and if you're looking for specific information on best practices, accountability processes, support networks, there are a lot of clear how-tos and useful examples that will be part of important considerations in the future. If you're looking for stories of personal experiences that explain the nuances of abuse as it intersects with queer identity, disability, race, the justice system, or immigration status, t After many dog-eared pages, I have to give this book a solid 4 stars. It's a fast read, and if you're looking for specific information on best practices, accountability processes, support networks, there are a lot of clear how-tos and useful examples that will be part of important considerations in the future. If you're looking for stories of personal experiences that explain the nuances of abuse as it intersects with queer identity, disability, race, the justice system, or immigration status, that's there too. I'm a skeptic of transformative or restorative justice, but there were enough strong ideas here for me to engage with them. I did not read the entire book closely. I flipped through and found what I needed, and it gave me more than enough to think about.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

    Wish I had these resources for Community Accountability back in April. These frameworks can apply to racial violence as well. Excellent work - wish there was a 2020 version coming out with updates.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    This is probably the most important book I have or will ever read. Immensely helpful, illuminating, and healing for anyone who has experienced relationship abuse, has perpetrated abuse, or is adjacent to an abusive relationship through friends or in their community -- that is, everyone. The accounts and essays in this book contextualize the range of actions, reactions, decisions, and larger systems of oppression at play in abusive relationships. The focus is on this violence as it occurs in activ This is probably the most important book I have or will ever read. Immensely helpful, illuminating, and healing for anyone who has experienced relationship abuse, has perpetrated abuse, or is adjacent to an abusive relationship through friends or in their community -- that is, everyone. The accounts and essays in this book contextualize the range of actions, reactions, decisions, and larger systems of oppression at play in abusive relationships. The focus is on this violence as it occurs in activist communities, which while they(/we) may aspire to be free of those dynamics, are often just as susceptible to them in different ways. (For instance, the sense of social isolation, the "we against them" mentality, is a pitfall for many new to activism, but it's also a tactic employed by abusers to isolate their partners.) But I would argue that anyone, regardless of whether they consider themselves an "activist," should read this, since the feelings of futility and betrayal that you experience when a community you trust fails you are the same (whether that community calls itself progressive or not). As someone who has experienced relationship violence, I deeply appreciated the nuanced view of accountability and survivors' rights. Too often, the mainstream dialogue around survivor-led justice still focuses on the abuser, creating a narrative that victimizes the survivor all over again by denying them their agency. At the center of every abusive relationship is a misunderstanding of what can be controlled; "If I'm quiet he won't yell at me," "If I avoid eye contact he won't think I'm challenging him," "If I leave him he'll kill himself" are all common thoughts for those experiencing relationship violence. Empowerment, justice, and growth can take many forms, and for me these came from learning and articulating what I can and cannot control in various situations. This book's treatment of accountability as a community-wide principle, as "a human skill," instead of just a process of "punishment" for the perpetrator, is something that is sorely lacking in the conversation around abuse and violence. It is incomplete to try to identify abuse as the sum of discrete actions without situating them in the larger context of individuals, communities, and power dynamics. That said, please be aware that The Revolution Starts at Home can be difficult to read; I spent over a year picking it up and putting it down every few weeks when I needed a break. I found myself experiencing a full range of emotions, from anger and frustration as I recalled the powerlessness I had felt for years, grief over friendships I had lost, forgiveness as realized my own ways of coping both during and after the relationship were incomplete, peace as I was finally able to situate and "explain" past experiences, but so often an immense gratitude for the many before me who piloted this hard work of community-wide growth and healing. This is difficult, but very, very worth it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David

    Informative, eclectic collection of pieces relating to intimate partner violence, especially in activist communities, mostly sexual minority communities. Raises lots of complications such as how same-gender couples violence throws off our usual assumption when decoding conflicting reports that it must be the (usually) larger and more physically powerful man who is the perpetrator and the woman who is the victim/survivor. Also deals with how perpetrators who are themselves members of oppressed gr Informative, eclectic collection of pieces relating to intimate partner violence, especially in activist communities, mostly sexual minority communities. Raises lots of complications such as how same-gender couples violence throws off our usual assumption when decoding conflicting reports that it must be the (usually) larger and more physically powerful man who is the perpetrator and the woman who is the victim/survivor. Also deals with how perpetrators who are themselves members of oppressed groups can sometimes use this as an excuse or cover for awful behavior. A major theme of many of the contributions is search for alternatives to traditional social institutions (esp. legal system, but to lesser extent shelters and other social service structures), notably "transformative justice" or "community accountability" strategies for addressing violence. A lot of the groups describing what they did to support survivors and to work on trying to hold perps accountable and work with them on changing their ways and acknowledging what they've done sounded heroically committed and generous with their time and emotional energy. It's probably too soon to expect much in the way of documentation of results, but I did find myself wondering a lot about what the average outcomes are. Many of the case studies reported here are in progress, and there was one admirably candid chapter describing community accountability efforts as incredibly stressful and generally ineffective in making any headway with perps. I'd have liked to see these differing experiences presented perhaps in the form of a panel presentation, with a discussant or some Q & A and back and forth to try to generate at least hypotheses about circumstances under which these approaches can work. Still, even if there isn't a very clear track record yet, it's encouraging to hear about people exploring and developing alternatives. It's not as though working within the legal system (restraining orders, jail time, etc.) has an overwhelmingly positive record when it comes to stopping violence, promoting healing, and strengthening community.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dian

    A helpful read for someone getting started in community activism around LGBTQ sexual or domestic/intimate partner violence. The works within include voices from the marginalized edges of the community and offer insightful and practical frameworks for supporting survivors in myriad ways (because there is no single right way).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Corey Wrenn

    Extremely relevant resources, narratives, and critical thinking on the rarely discussed but systemic problem of oppression and violence within social justice spaces. As the authors point out, because social justice movements are so concerned with advancing a cause, they can be very reluctant to "air dirty laundry." Worse, they typically exhibit the same sexist, victim-blaming, male-worshiping mentality that plagues wider society. For people of color and queer folks (especially queer folks of col Extremely relevant resources, narratives, and critical thinking on the rarely discussed but systemic problem of oppression and violence within social justice spaces. As the authors point out, because social justice movements are so concerned with advancing a cause, they can be very reluctant to "air dirty laundry." Worse, they typically exhibit the same sexist, victim-blaming, male-worshiping mentality that plagues wider society. For people of color and queer folks (especially queer folks of color), there is a reluctance to rely on the historically white elite-serving criminal justice system to deal with this violence, necessitating the creation of a culture of accountability and community justice measures. Unfortunately, the process isn't perfect. It can unfairly burden women with the shortcomings of alternative means of justice, while aggressors may be either harmed or encouraged by amateur intervenors (who says family, friends, and colleagues are any better at conflict resolution than judges, jury, and police?). It is clear that the perpetrator/survivor paradigm that predominates isn't always appropriate or accurate. I came to this book as a victim of sustained and systemic abuse in the animal rights movement as a result of my gender and feminist work. I found the book to be very informative and extremely thought-provoking. However, it can be dense reading, repetitive, and, due to the unpleasant content, mentally draining, such that it took years before I could actually sit down and plow through it. Worth doing, though. It should be mandatory reading for all activists. Accountability and conflict resolution are skills. This book benefits that skill development.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty Potter

    An important read on an incredibly sensitive and nuanced topic that I am still very much learning about, but as I read more non-fiction I am also learning that I am allowed to have my own opinions on it. As someone who mostly reads fiction I have a problematic tendency to accept everything else I read as 'fact' if it is published - I am teaching myself to think critically instead. Some of the pieces in this are incredibly moving; I especially appreciated Peggy Munson's essay on IPV and disabilit An important read on an incredibly sensitive and nuanced topic that I am still very much learning about, but as I read more non-fiction I am also learning that I am allowed to have my own opinions on it. As someone who mostly reads fiction I have a problematic tendency to accept everything else I read as 'fact' if it is published - I am teaching myself to think critically instead. Some of the pieces in this are incredibly moving; I especially appreciated Peggy Munson's essay on IPV and disability, as accessibility and recognition of disability is something I have realised to be mournfully lacking presence in activist discussions. The piece written by a collective of women from CARA about implementing grassroots community accountability strategies was also particularly useful. Some of the pieces in this still seemed to reflect problematic attitudes and sometimes placed the importance on the rehabilitation of the abuser rather than on support for the victim(s). That being said, this collection helped me understand how difficult it is to balance those two things as we try and find solutions to permanently enact change.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    What kind of justice do I want to see in society? In Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon cautions us about a form of justice that simply seeks to reposition those who are at society's bottom at society's top, and then remove the people at society's top and relegate them to society's bottom. He reasons that simply replicating the structures of power and oppression with different actors in the roles isn't justice but just another permutation of injustice albeit flip-flopped. Can we really claim j What kind of justice do I want to see in society? In Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon cautions us about a form of justice that simply seeks to reposition those who are at society's bottom at society's top, and then remove the people at society's top and relegate them to society's bottom. He reasons that simply replicating the structures of power and oppression with different actors in the roles isn't justice but just another permutation of injustice albeit flip-flopped. Can we really claim justice in a society where someone is always at the bottom? But I also understand that with generations of pain and oppression and anger, that may not be fulfilling to all people. Is there value in revenge, in punitive systems? Is there a reward in finally seeing those who called you their enemy suffer like you once suffered? Where does that leave concepts like transformation and accountability? Is transformation as important to the individual as it is to the society? This shit's hard. That's one of the things that is so compelling to me about The Revolution Starts at Home: the challenge of what kind of justice we should strive for in society. I absolutely agree with the basis of the book's entries that incarceration, isolation, shame, and banishment do not remedy causes of interpersonal violence. I also think it takes a really benevolent person to be a victim of an aggressor yet want them to have an opportunity to heal so they do not perpetuate the violence the victim experienced onto others. And I'm not sure that's something we can demand of a survivor if they're not ready to be in that place of benevolence. That said, there is so much more to this book than simply this dilemma. I am totally here for alternative interventions that give people an option besides calling the police. Nobody should ever have the police as their only option for (maybe) survival. Nobody. That response in and of itself can be as terrorizing as the initial violence itself, if not more. I hate that our society is constructed in such a way that the presumptive way to teach people is through fear and coercion. Don't hit your partner or else you go to jail. Don't sexually harass coworkers or else you lose your job. This is where, to me, there is a super valuable point of trying to reimagine intervention as helping a person understand that the reason you don't do harmful things isn't because you yourself will get in trouble, but rather you don't do harmful things because they are harmful to other people, full stop. A big part of that is cultivating empathy in people who have a low yield of that sense. I'm all for helping people grow into empathetic beings, but this also brings up another critique I've seen recently that I'm still working my way through: delineating our goal to address social injustice. We can have more than one goal, obviously. This certainly shouldn't be a binary choice. If anything, though, I think the goals can be complementary if they're done tactfully. I think by teaching privileged people, like folks with male privilege, to center the experiences of people targeted by oppression, like femme people, in their efforts to improve the condition of the world, it has the natural by-product of also guiding people with privilege toward into just being more decent, empathetic people. Yes, there's the by-product that they also don't get in trouble for harming others, but that should naturally follow rather than being the superficial goal of this work. I guess there's the question of your motivation, though, and that certainly should be critiqued. I personally always keep at an arm's distance any suggestion that the anti-racist training I do is really beneficial to white people because they, too, suffer from white supremacy. While that is true that white supremacy fucks with white people, too, that ethos cannot be primary (I say this knowing full well that most people's impetus for change is their own self-interest). The Revolution Starts at Home really pushed me to consider a lot this in really difficult, thoughtful ways. Ways that were really challenging to me, even though I think I'm probably above-average in empathy and social justice stuffs. In a lot of ways, this was as eye-opening to me about some things the way that Patricia Hill Collins' Black Sexual Politics was for me when I read it for the first time at the age of, I think, 24. I've reread BSP a few times since then and it still holds up for me. I'll be interested to reread The Revolution Starts at Home to see if the same holds true for it. I will grant, though, that a lot of the activist work that's documented in this book does seem to take place in coastal, metropolitan places (Oakland, Boston, San Francisco). I'm left wondering what a model for community accountability might look like in rural areas. I don't fault RSaH for not including that aspect in the book - they published what was submitted to them when this was a zine. Just musing, I suppose. This book is an awesome resource, not just for how community accountability process took place in several examples but also because of the curricula that were developed by the activists who are working to create transformative justice in their communities. I love how open-source this work is, and I really am eager to get into this work and hopefully be able to contribute to the growing body of knowledge that is community accountability. I will say, though, that at times it does come across as if the organizers who contributed to this book were kinda flying by the seat of their pants when creating ad hoc community accountability interventions. I realize that's partly the nature of the beast - there isn't really a great model for how to do this well and reliably - but it did leave me with several questions that I don't know how to answer.

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