Alisa Bierria @ In These Times. Excerpt below:
In Invisible No More: Police Violence against Black Women and Women of Color, Andrea Ritchie cites studies showing that sexual violence by police officers is “widespread, systemic and almost routine.” This reality puts survivors in an impossible bind: What do you do if the agency that society says will keep you safe is also a known violent institution that may put you in harm’s way? To unravel this bind, we must reimagine the question from the perspective of collective responsibility. That is, given the fact of systemic police violence, what should we do to support survivors of sexual violence? I recommend a three-pronged strategy: Inform, transform, invent.
First, if a survivor of rape feels the best thing to do is call the police, then friends, family, allies and advocates should support them in doing so. But what does ethical support look like? Supporters should provide survivors with an informed and honest picture of what will and could happen after the police report is filed. For example, some states have “dual arrest” policies that can lead to the arrest of or harm to survivors of domestic violence. Supporters should also work with survivors to develop a safety plan if police mistreat or arrest them. Such a plan could designate a contact person to communicate to others if the survivor is arrested or detained, locate pro bono attorneys or legal advocates, establish a care plan for the survivor’s children, or, in the case of arrest, develop a mobilization plan (showing up at court hearings or fundraising for legal support). Carceral-conscious safety planning is critical for survivors who are more likely to be subject to criminalization—survivors who are trans/queer, Black, Indigenous, immigrants, women and girls of color, disabled, poor, in the sex industry, or have criminal records.
Ultimately, policing in this country is so structurally entrenched in settler colonialism, anti-black violence and various forms of deadly social control that it demands an abolitionist response. Effective abolitionist responses to policing can only be in alignment and solidarity with the political priority of ending sexual violence and rape culture. Our political strategies must recognize that gender violence and state violence are not isolated or oppositional, but integral to each other.