Thursday, 24 January 2013

Anonymous letter to the National Secretary

Trigger warning.  This post contains potentially triggering material.

We received this from a member, and were given consent to publish it here:

  Dear Charlie, Over the last few weeks, as you know, there has been much discussion about a serious allegation of sexual violence regarding a CC member. This was discussed at conference during the disputes report and I took much notice.

  I took particular notice consciously, as over the last few months I have been deciding whether to come forward about a similar matter. I was in a long-term relationship with a comrade in the past and during this relationship he raped me. Though I am being encouraged by the few comrades I’ve asked for advice on it, I feel very precarious about coming forward about this.

 This is because of the way the women who reported allegations of harassment and allegations of rape were treated by the Disputes Committee. This situation has significantly altered my trust in the party’s ability to handle matters of sexual violence and I worry it will also discourage other victims coming forward. I understand in every organization, because we exist within capitalism and societal structures that ensure sexism, there will be cases of this kind - even in groups committed to liberation.  And I am aware these things are not endemic within the party and we have a long tradition of standing up for women’s oppression. Nevertheless, I have lost confidence.

  I send you this email to urge yourself and the CC to find a solution to the current crisis and take action to restore confidence in the SWP’s ability to take a solid stance in dealing with sexual violence. I’m not sure what that action can be, but I thought you should know the effects this is having within the party, on women like myself, finding themselves having to consider what to do about incidents of a violent sexual nature and being at a loss.

This letter has thus far received no reply.


  1. Please talk to your local Police about this. You do not have to report it but it may help to explore choices and outcomes. You cannot be made to testify and you can control the process. It is comrades reluctance to do so that empowers abusers.

  2. Talking to the cops can be just as bad or worse than the party, they have a nice record of questioning the survivor (like "were you drinking" and "what were you wearing" bullshit). There are many independent organisations and feminist groups that would be happy to offer support, some offer counselling too.

    1. Yes of course the party would never engage in such bourgeois habits. If you’re going to report it go to the police, chances are mates of your abuser won’t be presiding over the case. Reporting this kind of thing is never easy regardless of the route you take, but the system of justice has improved greatly over the years and is no way as degenerate as the CC would like you to believe.

    2. Wow! Concerned, do you recognize the implicit privilege in your response. Most people in the revolutionary left are quite hesitant to go to the police because they are frequently harassed and monitored by the State. Also, many survivors never desire to go to the police because the police are extremely hostile towards women and many comrades do not wish to imprison other people for larger societal problems. Also "it is our comrades reluctance to do so that empowers abusers" is incredibly victim blaming. These comments are why people are extremely hesitant about the revolutionary left, especially parties like the SWP. Dear Anonymous, I am also a revolutionary survivor though I come from the libertarian tradition. I am sorry that you were raped by a fellow comrade. Some ideas potentially are rape crisis hotlines or the Icarus project if you are looking for more radicals who can listen to your story. Restorative justice can also be a positive way to process feelings and hold rapists accountable. If you need an ear, I have been on radical sexual violence hotlines for the last few years and would love to talk with you if you need support from a revolutionary feminist perspective (aka, I will not tell you to go the police if you do not want to and I can help you through the process if you do, help process feelings around rape and the revolutionary parties, and just bee a listening ear). Be well, know that other women are with you. Solidarity and love!

  3. I had a similar experience with an expartner in a different political organisation (not the SWP.) I have often wanted to talk to comrades about it but then have backed down for fear of a bad reaction. I have occasionally talked about it but we have never really been able to resolve the situation.
    I hope more people can speak out and that something can finally be done about violence or abuse of women in political groups, which I know from talking to other women is something that has happened in nearly every group I can think of. I think that women need to talk to each other around the whole leftwing movement, openly, about these issues.
    I hope your friends and comrades give you lots of support.
    I am glad you wrote this letter and thank you for publishing it.

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