"a new Tumblr where your big sister has got your back"
July 21, 2014 4:41 PM   Subscribe

i believe you | it's not your fault. The "What are we doing here?" post explains the origin:
In the summer of 2014, in a secret online writing group where we mostly yell about waffles and menses, someone posed this question:
My daughter’s friend was sexually harassed by some boys at school and feels like it’s her fault. She’s 12. Her parents are conservative evangelicals, and there’s really no adult in her life who’s even remotely versed in concepts like victim-blaming and slut-shaming and boundaries and consent. She doesn’t want to talk about it and I won’t violate that request, but I wish I could slip some resources her way. Is there anything out there like a Girl’s Guide to Rape Culture? That explains it in an accessible, empowering way? I just want her (and all the other kids, of all genders, who are in similar situations) to know: This isn’t your fault. I believe you.
The deluge of outrage, support, and empathy was immediate and overwhelming. Everyone identified with the story in some way. Everyone had memories (distant and/or recent) of feeling victimized, unsafe, ashamed, alone. Everyone wanted to help.

"Can we write her letters?" someone asked.

Can we use our collective life experience to be a safe haven for kids who need it? Can we tell stories and answer questions and offer solidarity and resources and maybe break some cycles before they begin? Can we do it with humor and transparency, and without coming across like dorky, hand-wringing moms? After all, so many of us are still those kids. So many of us will always be those kids.

Well, we can try. We’ll be posting our letters/essays/videos/memories/advice on this blog, as they come in. We will cover as broad a range of topics as we know how. We’re just people who’ve been through stuff, and we’re here. Ask us anything.

It’s not your fault. We believe you.
(Title via Slacktivist.)
posted by Lexica (8 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Oh Wow, this hits really quite hard. But what a great idea. Thank you for posting this.
posted by dogheart at 4:49 PM on July 21, 2014

This is what the Internet is for. Thanks.
posted by rtha at 5:26 PM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

that first story made me cry. i'm glad this project exists.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 5:38 PM on July 21, 2014

Even the name of the Tumblr chokes me up. "I believe you; it's not your fault" is such a simple message, but one that is so rarely sent and even more rarely received. I love each and every one these people baring their souls so that someone else feels less alone.
posted by Phire at 5:45 PM on July 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Just incredible, the tears are flowing here. Thank you for posting this.
posted by porn in the woods at 5:58 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

MMMBop is really such a great song.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:08 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fuck yes. I love the internet. This shit is so important. Phire is right, those two phrases are so simple but they rarely get said. So much of the discussion about sexual assault is forced to be catering to men. "Not all men", "Boys will be boys" or "Real men don't blah blah blah". What? yes they fucking do. It's real men doing real damage. It's 0% surprising that women internalize and blame themselves for what happens. Someone has to have the blame, and men sure as hell aren't stepping up and taking that responsibility.

Its heartbreaking to read so many stories that have the same narrative "I didn't want to upset him, I didn't want to hurt his feelings, I didn't know if it was abuse". We're conditioning young women to exist in a space that facilitates their own manipulation, where the comfort of men trying to take advantage of them is more important than their own. And we're raising boys to be aware of this power dynamic and to use it to their advantage. Yes it's abuse, but with those circumstances it's so hard to see. "I let it happen, I didn't fight back", etc. How the hell do you expect a 14 year old, even a 12 year old to understand the kind of fucked up power play that's going on here?

Thank you for sharing this. I want everyone I know to know about it. So, so many young girls need this. It's sad that they do, but at least it's hear for them.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:47 PM on July 21, 2014 [14 favorites]

Stories have power.
You have power. You might not feel like you do, if something big has been taken from you. But here’s the thing. You’re not alone. So even if you only have a very tiny bit of power, I’ve got some, and Lindy’s got some, and everyone else who posts here or links here has some, and we stand with you, and we say, Your story has power.
Together? Maybe our stories can change the world.
That totally made me choke up. Thank you for posting this, it's a beautiful thing.

When I worked for a children's helpline part of the resource was a site with message boards, and it never failed to move me how supportive the kids were to each other. They would ring about bullying, self harm, abuse, eating disorders - anything they felt helpless about. But when they were supporting each other in the threads they were so strong: "You can do this / I'm here for you hon / you are special and beautiful and don't you forget it!" It gave me hope and it made me feel like our job wasn't really to help them as much as to see that they had all the strength they needed within. A thing I used to say when someone rang was "What would you say to your best friend if they were in this situation?" Because no matter how stuck they felt in their own lives, they would always be able to be wise enough to help someone else out if they were asked.

This post gives me the same hope for young women. Society does so much to pit women, especially young women, against each other. Maybe because it knows that their collective strength really could change the world.
posted by billiebee at 12:43 PM on July 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

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