***This blog post was written by AVP volunteer Anabelle Bernard Fournier
When you visit the AVP office or support space in the basement of the Student Union Building, you may notice a beautiful wall with strings full of zines and colourful cards. The sheer number of zines might seem intimidating, but these Resource Reviews will help you find the right one.
In this post, I am covering three zines for people who have caused harm: “Taking The First Step”, “We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators” and “What To Do When Someone Tells You that you violated their boundaries, made them feel uncomfortable, or committed assault”.
“Taking The First Step” is all about taking ownership of your behaviour and doing the internal work when you have been called out for abusive behaviour. The zine gives you many suggestions of where to start, but the fundamental message is about honesty. It’s easy to deny behaving abusively to protect our self-esteem, but taking stock of our behaviour and admitting that it was abusive is an essential step for turning things around. The 10 suggestions in this zine will help you to build behaviour ownership skills that are essential for maintaining respectful and consensual relationships with others and our communities.
“We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators” is a discussion about the survivor-perpetrator language and how it doesn’t necessarily work well for healing boundary violations. By sticking to this either/or language that separates survivors and perpetrators, we tend to forget that most of us belong to both categories, and that some experiences are not quite as clear-cut. This zine will give you ways to begin putting words to your experiences as either survivor, perpetrator, or both.
The last zine is in fact more of a short pamphlet inspired by the above two. “What To Do When Someone Tells You…” summarizes the previous two pamphlets in a handy quick guide-style list that can help you when you just want to know what to do. Written by a person who has caused harm and went through an accountability process, it ends with their reflection: “Being called out is a gift. It is an opportunity to grow. Embrace that. Assault is cowardly. Owning up to it is brave.”
If you need support after being called out, picking up one of these zines is a great first step. Remember that AVP support volunteers are also here to help people who have caused harm and who want to understand the harm and do differently in the future.