Member Spotlight: Katie
We often say DSA is a “big tent”. It’s true that we all come from different backgrounds, but every one of our unique experiences has brought us to the same conclusion: A better world is possible, and it is ours to build. The following is the fourth in a series of stories told by our members about the events and experiences that led them to the Left.
CW: Sexual violence
Hi I’m Katie, and I’m a Leftist. My upbringing in a white, middle class, metro Atlanta home was pretty typical in the sense that I, like most kids, spent many formative years desperately trying to fit in and generally disliking myself. For all my parents spoke about pulling myself by my own bootstraps, they didn’t seem to think I would ever be good enough – but apparently I was automatically better than many others. They were openly racist and sexist, and their daily bigotry was just one of the ways they projected their unresolved trauma onto me.
When I was seventeen, I was violently raped at gunpoint. I’m comfortable sharing my past now thanks to all the survivors who came before me who have built a community where I can feel safe. I owe a huge debt to the trans women, sex workers, BIPOC women and everyone else who has fought for liberation and an end to sexual violence – over the past nine years of my healing, they have empowered me to transform my grief into power.
Barely escaping with my life, I was thrust straight back into a world that did not care about survivors of sexual violence. Normally desperate for attention, I didn’t tell anyone what happened. Shame, terror, and rage were my whole life. At the time, the only knowledge I had of mental health treatment was the stigma attached to it. I also knew how cops treated survivors, so I chose to keep quiet like many others had before me.
Eventually, I found some comfort in online forums for survivors where we could all share and feel understood. My experience dealing with my trauma in the physical world manifested in anger, impulsiveness, and ultra independence. Online, I could be honest and vulnerable. Finding some comfort in a shared experience, my loneliness eased up a bit.
So many of us in this community often arrived at one question: Why? Why does this happen to some people more than it happens to others? Why do cops treat survivors so terribly? Here was the rabbit hole I had been searching for, and I dove deep down. I learned about a system that benefits against violence done to my body – and I learned about the many powerful people who are putting their bodies on the line to fight against that system for the safety of the rest of us.
Years later, I started therapy and began to peel away the walls I had built to allow me to function. My insights into the world continued to broaden. The system isn’t broken. It’s operating exactly the way it was designed to work: to cause harm and to strip away freedoms. Sexual violence is one of its many tools. My emotional awakening has been slow and painful, but gaining a community of comrades in college helped me along even further in knowing there’s another option.
I am a Leftist because I want to break these cycles. I want to break the cycle of oppression that causes incredible harm to us all and to our planet. I want to break the cycle of emotional abuse and white rage in my family. I want to help other white women like myself educate themselves, too – I’d like to believe that even sans horrible trauma, I’d still be here telling you that a better world is possible. I’ve glimpsed it in my community of survivors, and through you, my comrades as well. We have to demand and facilitate radical change in the world – for ourselves, for others, and, crucially, for our fallen comrades, for those victims whose voices were stolen from them. Annihilation of the violent status quo is possible. Building a better world is necessary. Safety, comfort, and revolution are all on the other side of our imaginations. Grief turns to power.