Trying to become cosmic Why we need a Predator Alert Tool for Facebook

Why we need a Predator Alert Tool for Facebook

Let’s start on a path towards consent culture together.

I want you to feel more safe in your day to day life, I want to armor you with the knowledge you need to protect yourself from those that might pose a danger to you. I have been volunteering in my own small way to help develop something called Predator Alert Tool for Facebook. The Predator Alert Tool for Facebook is an application for sharing histories of abuse with other survivors. The app allows you to indicate a person or people who violated your consent and tell the story. Then you can choose how to share that story, by sharing it publicly, with your friends, or sharing it with other victims of the same abuser. You can think of it as a survivor support group/information hotline. On a daily basis we share information with people about others all the time, like letting a friend know not to invite our mutual friend Becky to brazilian barbeque cause she’s a vegetarian, or telling someone that she shouldn’t ask both Steve and Erica to mini-golf cause they just went through a messy break-up. Letting people we care about know that someone is capable of violence and abuse is arguably the most vital social information we could share yet we do so little of it. How many people could you help by alerting them that someone you knew was dangerous? How comforted would you be to know that you aren’t crazy, that that individual did the same thing to another person? How would it feel to know that it wasn’t about you or your fault but something messed-up inside your abuser, and that you aren’t alone? I think of this project, the Predator Alert Tool for Facebook, as a pathway to resisting oppression culture. For me it is a way for people to share their hurts so that they might be healed. It is a way to acknowledge the violence so that the person who committed it might be forgiven even if the action itself is unforgivable. As humans in community we have hurt each other too much to continue to ignore what has passed between us, and we are too intertwined to merely forget what happened and go our separate ways. The Predator Alert Tool creates a psuedo “safe-space” with a lower level of affordance that prevents abusers from finding the identity of the story reporters and suppressing this vital information. It creates a survivor network of support. Already, even though the app has barely launched, me talking about this possibility with others has opened up conversations about the abuses they suffered and witnessed. It is creating a space for honesty and de-siloing (making it available in multiple places rather than one) information. I already am feeling myself softening and becoming more open and compassionate about these encounters. There is something really amazing that I am seeing in survivors also. In my experience survivors often tell me that there are large periods of their own life history that they have trouble remembering. As they begin to shine a light on this terrible hurtful part of their life and share about it and learn to look at it without judging themselves they begin to open up other memories too. Positive ones of their strength, of the creative and beautiful coping strategies that kept them alive are resurrected for them. To me this is so amazing, all of a sudden parts of themselves are revealed, badges of honor and courage that they forced themselves to forget along with the pain. It is miraculous.

“I want to try and live my life carrying all my memories with me. Even if those memories are painful, even if they do nothing but hurt me, I want to keep them. Even those memories sometimes I wish I could forget. As long as I carry them with me, as long as I can keep holding on; then someday, someday, I’ll be strong enough that those memories don’t hurt me anymore, and i’ll be glad that I have them … I don’t think that it would be o.k. to forget a single one.” -Momiji, Fruits Basket

My own experience of consent violation falls more into a grey area. I was not treated in a way that was non-consensual, but in a way that was disrespectful, and the experience made even the idea of sex unpleasant for me for some time. But my partner Esbe (my soulmate who never made me feel unsafe) was physically and sexually abused as a child. He became a part of that cycle and reproduced this behavior, this societal illness onto another person. Although he came to a point where he could express the violation that was turned on him, my Esbe could never admit to me those things that he had done, and so now I wonder if he could ever admit those things to himself. Maybe it is selfish, but this is how I love. I still have so much love forcing it’s way out. Love for Esbe and all I can do with it is work to make a world that couldn’t reproduce him. Why do we choose to deny our sins instead of choosing to be forgiven for them? Maybe by giving survivors a voice we can take aways the tools of denial that oppression culture thrives on. Maybe in a world where we’re not allowed to hide we will have more space to hurt and righteously rage and forgive those who hurt us in the most irredeemable ways. The Predator Alert Tool is also valuable to me for the abusers because it takes away their power to deny and control the story. When they can’t control the story they have to admit what happened to themselves. It is not transparent of course, it is meant to obfuscate those who tell the story, but the story itself becomes something that can’t be hidden from those it would protect. When both the survivor and the abuser can’t deny what happened, a space opens up for forgiveness. Not that anyone deserves forgiveness, absolutely no one is entitled to it, and the act of sexual abuse and violence is inexcusable. But perhaps forgiveness becomes a tool to break the cycle and end the reproduction of violence. My experience of sexual abuse is intersectional, I have compassion for both the survivor and the abuser. I believe that this work can serve them both. Please if you are a survivor install the app yourself and use it to help protect others and tell your own story on your own terms. If you can, talk about it with others, make it a valuable utility for everyone.

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    Really appreciate this commentary. Thank you.
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