TW/CW Partner Violence, Domestic Violence
By Vanessa Victoria
I think we can all agree that physical, psychological and emotional partner violence is absolutely unacceptable but maybe it’s time we progress into talking about the steps we feel should be taken as a scene, as individuals or as bands in response to the violence. Please feel free to add on or discuss; this is open to anyone who identifies as punk regardless of where you are.
1) Believe the victim(s). Ask victim(s) how they are, what they would like done and actually DO it. This could range from “nothing (I just need someone to talk to)” to “I never want to see the perp in the scene/at a show again (the victim should have right of way)” amongst others. In the event that the victim would prefer to keep the issue private, friends in the know could offer support by offering to be on call should the victim need help, or offer discreet protection (such as never leaving the victim alone with the perpetrator). Don’t *expect* an immediate answer either, and victims have the right to change their minds over time too. What’s important is us facilitating/helping the victim regain their sense of control and agency.
2) If a public callout happens, as friends or band members of the perp, we should take responsibility of our own social circle (that includes the perp) and hold them accountable for their behaviour in a way that is visible to their victim and other vulnerable folks in the scene. This could mean a public statement by the band, changing band members, openly condemning domestic violence on personal platforms etc. This sends out a message that domestic violence is unacceptable by your personal or your band’s standards and does not just reach the victim but other vulnerable folk, telling them that you or your circle is safe.
3) In many cases of this happening, the perps understand full well that people are pissed (they might not want to understand/admit their faults though) and “get rid of themselves” by means of disappearing from the scene or even scene hopping. Some try to stay, some play victim, some play mind games and try to manipulate folks who seem “impartial” or have not been informed, some try to bank on their social capital card (if they have any). When this happens, the decision whether or not to ban the person might be a much easier one to make as by then the perpetrator’s willingness to be accountable and work on change would be glaringly obvious to everyone. It would not just be isolated to what people know about the incident(s) between the perp and their victim anymore. It is normal and expected that in the event that the perpetrator stays and the community allows it, the perpetrator’s behaviour should be under harsh scrutiny until they prove themselves and have regained trust. Bearing in mind that many abusers are also expert manipulators, it is natural that folks feel apprehensive, and how the perpetrator deals with this apprehension/rejection will say a lot.
4) If you ever feel pity for the perpetrator, remember that shit like that very rarely happens *out of nowhere*. If a person has it in them, they probably have acted in unsavoury manners in their relationships more than just that once. It is also unlikely that *nobody* has ever told them that their behaviour was hurtful, it could be friends, partners, even family who have at some point or other brought it up to them. Maybe they were never held accountable and that’s why the behaviour continued, but it is close to impossible that nobody in their lives have ever told them that something they were doing was not right. See that perps have always had opportunities to change, and surely change requires an amount of self-awareness that maybe the perpetrator was never made to learn. “calling out” and “holding accountable” could actually be two different (and separate) things, and that both NEED to go hand in hand. If the perpetrator claims that self-awareness is impossible or refuses accountability, there might be a possibility that they need professional help and the best we can do is suggest it to them (While reminding them that mental illness does not give them a free pass). In many cases it is only logical that even if a perpetrator claims the intention to change, that they sort themselves out outside and away from the scene, especially if they are a serial perpetrator.
Vanessa used to run Singapore’s first ever punk-run livehouse called Blackhole212.
This article was written in response to the follow question: \”what do we do when domestic violence occurs in the punk scene?” We would love for this conversation to continue. Please offer your thoughts in the comment section.