breaking cycles. Healing

Fish Hook

I previously had someone tell me about fishing, when fish are caught and then thrown back into the ocean that they end up being fine because they recover from a “minor” wound; then mentioning that catching fish isn’t that cruel because fish can’t really feel pain in the same way humans and other animals do. Meaning that fish perhaps know that something is wrong when they are caught but they do not feel the intense pain of the wound and trauma. This concept of fish being caught and wounded by hooks is a way that I’ve used to describe rape culture and normalised sexual violence. I feel as if there’s so much abuse within sexual relationships and that people are a bit like fish being caught; where we know that something is wrong but we don’t know how to explain what went wrong. Then when people are thrown back into the world we are left with this wound to somehow manage, but we don’t always know in a conscious sense what happened in the first place. The articulation of why something is uncomfortable or violating can be hard to explain because maybe there was consent established for sex or aspects of sex, but not for everything that has happened. I know that rape culture and what constitutes sexual violence; assault, abuse, coercion, harassment and consent today is much broader than what it used to be, and that it’s a very contested topic. It’s something that I find incredibly difficult to talk about and there seems to be such resistance when many people point out instances of rape culture behaviour. From discussions around sexual violence over the years a lot of people understand a lot more about consent and some things which they have experienced sexually, aren’t in fact a normal part of sex. I remember only starting to talk about my experience with rape culture about a year ago. It was mentally and emotionally a really tough thing to do because I couldn’t articulate the experiences properly. Physically I felt like something very wrong had happened but I had told myself for so long that nothing had happened, mainly as a maladaptive and sub-conscious coping mechanism, but also there was still this entrenched belief about what rape means. Previously I understood rape as someone unknown forcing themselves sexually onto another person. In reality this isn’t always how it occurs. It’s hard enough to ever prosecute someone for any kind of sexual misconduct let alone when there is this rigid definition and understanding of it. It is good to see that consent education is something which is being developed. There is still such an acceptance to avoid obtaining consent and instead waiting for someone to either scream out or literally say ‘no’ but this isn’t the way it should be in order to receive “consent”. There is definitely still a long way to go when it comes to eliminating sexual and gender-based violence and I’m hoping that consent education improves this.

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Invasion Day

I know a lot of people have strong opinions on Australia Day, what it means, if we should continue to have a national holiday, and some aren’t too concerned as long as a public holiday remains. I definitely hold the view that Aboriginal culture and history should be respected, in particular when thinking about our national holiday. My mind goes in circles when thinking and writing about Australia Day and its history. I know that some people don’t delve too much into the thinking about Australia Day’s date and the significance of it. For some people it’s just nice to have the day off and relax. I know I did some classic Aussie things on Australia Day this year 2022. I went to Bunnings and had a sausage sizzle BBQ. It wasn’t so much to celebrate but it was more the fact that I had a day off and my sister and I wanted to do some gardening. Then two seconds later we smelt the BBQ and it just happened to be Australia Day whilst we were doing all of that. I saw a documentary where an interviewer was asking people on Australia Day why they celebrate it and informed some that the day is actually when the country was invaded; the beginning of the loss of Aboriginal land, rights, freedoms, culture, language and history. Sometimes people were quite surprised by this information and just hadn’t been informed, or thought much about Australia Day and Aboriginal people in conjunction. Other responses were disturbing where they would ignore and dismiss what the interviewer just said as if he were lying. I understand that sometimes it can be difficult to deconstruct thinking, beliefs and values which people have had for a long time or since birth, but the alternative of turning a blind eye to injustice and genocide is devasting. I did a little research to understand what exactly people are celebrating. Many celebrate Australia broadly with no reference to its colonisation history. Others celebrate the welcoming of new citizens, whilst some celebrate having a day off to day drink and stick Australian flag merchandise all over the place. I don’t think that many people are saying not to celebrate Australia or Australian culture. A lot of the controversy appears to be around the specific date of Australia Day. Many countries have national holidays which aren’t in union with colonisation periods. I believe we can still be patriots and proud of Australia whilst making a significant effort to achieving reconciliation. Perhaps a place to continue reconciliation efforts would be with changing the date? I read a beautiful poem in an article on ‘Creative Spirits’ website, under ‘Australia Day – Invasion Day’, by Sandra Gaal Hayman: I am not black I am not white I am not wrong I am not right I am now here Not been before My ancestors Are here no more I am not black I am not white I am not wrong I am not right Their spirit lives in every way Always will unto this day They are so proud and love their land Traditional custodians will stand I am not black I am not white I am not wrong I am not right We have so much to offer all Generations past still call This great land of ours abounds Where harmony and peace are found I am not black I am not white I am not wrong I am not right Proud and true is who we are Some from here and some from far Help each other the best we can That makes us ALL Australian. Source: Jens Korff, 2021. Australia Day – Invasion Day. [online] Creative Spirits. Available at: [Accessed 30 January 2022].

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