Speech on sexual and sexualized violence

[Jess]: Hello, I’m Jess and this is my sister Nina.
We are now going to give a speech about the sexual and sexualized violence that happened to us. Since we know that this is a topic with a very high triggering potential, we will of course not describe any explicit situations. Our speech is not supposed to be about that at all. Rather, it is about you. It is about those who have also been affected by sexual or sexualized violence. But above all, it is also about the perpetrators – and also about those who stand behind or next to them. We don’t necessarily mean literally. Rather, we mean their environment in the broader sense, the scene in which they move. We are addressing the left-wing scene in particular – in other words, all people who see themselves as leftwing or describe themselves as such.

[Nina]: Before we really start, a few content notes: we will talk about our emotions, about protection of offenders, about fear on the streets. About how people didn’t believe us or only partially believed us. We would wait a moment now before we start so that individuals can leave for whom this is too painful. We understand that and we stand with you in solidarity. Maybe you can also use this little break to
check in with your friends, in case you might need a person to hold your hand, for example. We would like to wait a moment and give you the opportunity to do that.

[Jess]: Writing this speech was not easy for us. It’s such a heavy topic and at the same time we wonder, based on our past experiences, if what you have to say is really valid. Or whether we are allowed to talk about it at all, because it is a Potentially triggering topic. We think that these doubts make it so much more important to stand here today. We think it is important to show those, who are affected that they are not alone. On the contrary – there are so many. The feeling of not being alone, the feeling of really being understood, has helped us. We are no victims! We can be active or become capable of action. At the same time, we think it’s important to show all the people who are not affected what the consequences of their actions are. Both in a positive and negative way.

[Nina]: My name is Nina and I am a victim of sexual, physical and emotional violence. I was a minor when I was trapped in a situation for 3 1/2 months where I was beaten or otherwise physically harmed. I was raped by several people and humiliated in various ways. The perpetrator was and still is part of a structure of soccer fans that outwardly pretends to be left-wing and anti-fascist. For weeks I felt bad, but for weeks I kept silent out of fear of the perpetrator and his threats, which he also referred to my family. Only after a nervous breakdown I did realize the seriousness of the situation and finally told my sister. For a long time I convinced myself that I was to blame for what happened to me. It wasn’t until I went to therapy that I realized I wasn’t to blame. But to this day I still question myself. To this day, what happened to me accompanies me. My condition is like a rollercoaster. There are phases in which it doesn’t really bother me and I’m fine. But through various triggers I am quickly thrown into phases that are very unpleasant. These can be very different things that are triggering it: a place, a song, a smell. I struggle a lot in those moments and phases. With anxiety disorders. And I’m
always very tense and also quickly aggressive (especially when I realize what he’s done).

[Jess]: My name is Jess and I was in a toxic relationship for several weeks with someone who had a „standing“ in the scene. One of those antifa guys who is talking the most on the plenary, who seem like They have the most experience, who act like they alone understand antifascism. But they are just the loudest. I was pushed to situations that I didn’t want. By keeping me down, putting down my activism, and telling me I owed him something, he elevated himself above me. I saw my worth as dependent on him. I myself did not recognize this. Only the attentive, solidary actions of other befriended FINTA people that made me realize what was actually happening. It is so important to watch out. To ask questions, to support. It is so important to give those affected their ability to act. And above all, it is Important to believe them. It happens far too often that the perpetrators remain in the scene, continue to move in their structures and stay in their places. Those affected, on the other hand, are far too often repressed.

[Nina]: On the outside, most of the people around me, believed me. But many didn’t take me seriously. And that is exactly what belongs to the „I believe you“, to the solidarity! If I have a panic attack or describe my fear of a certain situation, how can you not take me seriously, if you told me before „I believe you“? How can you not understand my desire not to walk home alone at night? Why do I have to justify myself to you that I don’t want to go to this or that place? Moreover, many do not have the idea that there is such a thing in their immediate environment. „Oh, not that one. Really? I wouldn’t have thought of that one.“

[Jess]: Do you know what such questions do to me? I confided in you, I need your support, not your doubt or surprise. You can express your surprise to others, but you should then also ask yourselves: why you are surprised and why you doubt! How many of you have ever asked your friends if they have pushed people in the past, done something without the other person’s consent, or deliberately taken
advantage of their condition or their affection? Talk about it! Question yourself and your actions! When I look back at my past and think about how many situations I have been in where there was no consensus, where it was pseudo established but not kept, where I was pushed – and when I then talk about it with my friends and realize that this is the norm – then it is incomprehensible to me how people
can be surprised, how they can doubt, when it then affects their environment. We have to stop denying that we were socialized in a system that is patriarchal, sexist, and violent. We have to stop pretending that all of that can’t happen to us, so we don’t reproduce all of that just because we call ourselves leftist.

[Nina]: Talk to those around you. Not just when you think something is wrong. Talk to each other before that. Question and reflect on your behavior. It’s your turn! I think it’s sad and it makes me so angry that our society puts the blame on women or FINTA from the start. We are kept down. We are asked what we were wearing. How we (!) acted. This is so wrong! It hasn’t been my short dress that was the trigger or justification, but the perpetrator all by himself. I’m trying to stop being held down. I am trying not to let the potential guilt that society has talked me into determine my life. On principle alone, I walk drunk through the city at night with my girlfriends. Yes, I do that – and I still think it sucks that we all have to carry pepper spray in our handbags and turn around every few minutes. And just on principle, I dress the way I want, even though I get funny looks from my parents, critical looks from older people, and especially pushy looks from men. I’m tired of getting up in the morning and being accompanied by such things from the beginning! This really has to stop!

[Nina]: I would like to encourage all those affected, even if it is difficult, to find someone you can trust. Try not to repress what happened. Because it’s not gone just because you don’t talk about it. I know that it is hard. But if you can, seek professional help or have someone help you find it. Even after three years of therapy, I still have a long way to go, but it helps me so much. If you can, talk to those around you so that triggers, for example, can be better avoided. You don’t have to explain your needs, let alone justify yourselves. We must be believed and no one must push us. We decide how we want to deal with it.

[Jess]: Our environment is equally addressed. It is not the sole responsibility of those of us affected to avoid cases of sexual or sexualized violence or to deal with them afterwards. We are striking today and every day in angry, emotional and understanding solidarity with all victims of sexual and sexualized violence! We strike for our sovereignty of interpretation and against any active or
passive protection of perpetrators. We are not to blame and we are not alone, but we stand here and everywhere in solidarity and strong together.