Bi Women Support Network: for victims of sexual violence

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“Bi women suffer higher rates of abuse and violence in general”

Biscuit talks to Bi Women Support Network mod Queeravocados about how the group helps survivors of rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse and intimate partner violence.

“Bi Women’s Support Network officially launched on October 28th 2014. I searched and searched for resources for bi women rape survivors for my own rape recovery and kept coming up empty-handed. I knew that a lot of other bi women survivors wanted a space for support and solidarity too, so I teamed up with bifurious-babe and we collected resources, set up the blog, and invited other people to apply to be moderators as well.”

“We primarily answer anonymous questions from multi-gender attracted women and nonbinary survivors. We also maintain our resource pages, reblog posts from other tumblrs, and draft original posts on recovery and self care. And over the holidays, we put on a holiday card project for our survivor followers and we mailed nearly 30 cards of sympathy and encouragement in time for the Christmas season.

“We currently have five moderators including myself, although we all contribute to the blog at varying levels because of general life responsibilities and where we’re each at in recovery. And I will always let moderators take breaks from the blog if they need to take care of themselves. We’ll also be taking on a couple of extra mods in the next week.

“Well, most significantly, bi women just face higher rates of abuse and violence, period. But studies also show that bi women face higher rates of re-victimisation and vicimisation at a younger age. We have the highest rates of depression and PTSD post-rape, and when we disclose sexual assault, we have the lowest rates of social support. I think it’s important to mention that 46% of bi women are forcibly raped and 75% of bi women are coercively raped or sexually assaulted. More stats are available on our website.

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“As bi women, we also deal with social isolation when we try and find other bi women survivors”

“We also deal with social isolation, because it’s very difficult to find community with other bi women survivors, as evidenced by the fact that you’re interviewing the only known one. On top of that, we have to endure the retraumatisation of rape culture, misogyny, and biphobia. For example, take the ubiquitous stereotypes that bisexual women are slutty and liars. We’re told that it’s our fault for being slutty, or we’re not believed because we’re untrustworthy. The stereotype that we are only pretending to be bisexual for men’s attention implies that sexual harassment and sexual assault are forms of ‘attention’ that we invited upon ourselves. Some people have claimed that bi women experience these disproportionate rates of violence because we are ‘sexually available to men’, which is a terrifying form of victim blaming and rape culture – no one is sexually available to anyone. This is all compounded by the lack of institutional support for bi women survivors. We struggle with this widespread victim blaming and lack of support on top of our traumas themselves.

“We hope to expand our reach and get more moderators on the team to answer questions and write more original posts on advice. We also have plans to do a giveaway in the next few months with some of the generous donations given to us. In the long term, I actually hope to make the Bi Women Support Network a non-profit and stick with it throughout my career. Perhaps something like the Northwest Network, a non-profit based in Seattle dedicated to LGBT survivors.

“We haven’t run any events yet as unfortunately it’s hard to find enough people in one place. However, I would be ecstatic to start something in the Seattle area if enough people are interested.

“Having anonymity and being able to cross distances are huge perks to online survivor activism, but of course, those are drawbacks too, when people take advantage of anonymity to harass and threaten survivors speaking out. One of our mods recently received harassment and rape threats for identifying a bi man as her rapist, for example, and we recently got an anonymous question from another survivor terrified of having the same experience if she spoke out too.

“Specifically at biwomensupport, we have surprisingly had no inflammatory messages in the inbox yet, and only one rude reblog on a post. But if (and probably when) we do get those messages, we will always delete the messages and ignore the reblogs to try to make the BWSN as safe as possible for our followers.”

 www.biwomensupport.org

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Charlotte Dingle

Charlotte 'Lottie' Dingle is Biscuit's founding editor. When she's not running freelancing for a diverse bunch of clients ranging from Cosmo to Occupy, she enjoys teaching life drawing, discussing life/the universe/everything with her beloved (but smelly) 22-year-old cat, writing flash fiction for her MA course, getting pretentious tattoos, listening to folk music, creating surrealist art, trying to change the world and drinking red wine. Oh, and My Little Pony. Don't forget My Little Pony. Her favourite biscuits are cream crackers (do they count as biscuits?).

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