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The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities Paperback – May 24, 2011
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"Like [This Bridge Called My Back], the editors of The Revolution Starts at Home have provided a landmark resource....For anyone who believes that the personal is deeply political in social justice circles, The Revolution Starts at Home is a must-read."Ms Magazine Blog
"If transformative justice is now becoming a widespread movement rather than a localized phenomenon (and I believe it is), my best bet is that The Revolution Starts at Home will go down in history as one of the movement’s most important precipitants."Upping the Anti
"If this book had been published ten years ago, I would have perhaps not felt so isolated, or have felt that just because someone could dedicate themselves to the bettering of society, that they were not capable of turning their internalized anger onto me. I would have not felt so alone."Persephone Magazine
A document of more than 10 years of community accountability work, this anthology is bursting with transformative poems and stories, well-developed models, vital guidelines and new questions. By providing resources and excellently written pieces about experiences and strategies, The Revolution Starts at Home offers appealing alternatives for ensuring survivor safety and hope that more activist communities will name and break patterns of violence.”Xtra! Toronto
From the Publisher
The extent of the violence affecting our communities is staggering. Nearly one in three women in the United States will experience intimate violence in her lifetime. And while intimate violence affects relationships across the sexuality and gender spectrums, the likelihood of isolation and irreparable harm, including death, is even greater within LGBTQI communities. To effectively resist violence out there--in the prison system, on militarized borders, or in other clear encounters with "the system"--we must challenge how it is reproduced right where we live. It's one thing when the perpetrator is the police, the state, or someone we don't know. It's quite another when that person is someone we call a friend, lover, and trusted ally.
Based on the popular zine that had reviewers and fans alike demanding more, The Revolution Starts at Home finally breaks the dangerous silence surrounding the "open secret" of intimate violence--by and toward caretakers, in romantic partnerships, and in friendships--within social justice movements. This watershed collection compiles stories and strategies from survivors and their allies, documenting a decade of community accountability work and delving into the nitty-gritty of creating safety from abuse without relying on the prison industrial complex.
Fearless, tough-minded, and ultimately loving, The Revolution Starts at Home offers life-saving alternatives for ensuring survivor safety while building a road toward a revolution where no one is left behind.
Top customer reviews
The Revolution Starts at Home is an anthology of essays and a few poems about people surviving and resisting violence, seeking alternatives to the state’s dangerous and often inadequate interventions. It’s divided into four sections: “Safety at the Intersections of Intimate, Community, and State Violence,” “On Survivorship,” “(Re)claiming Body, (Re)claiming Space,” and “We Are Ready Now.” As in life, the boundaries between these sections are fluid and a little bit arbitrary.
My favorite section, in 2015 and now, is “On Survivorship.” Gina de Vries’ essay “Homewrecker” describes a relationship with a lesbian who endlessly criticized her and created an us-against-the-world dynamic in which boys were the enemy and bisexuality was both too queer and not queer enough. Biphobic abuse had been one of the hardest parts of my own relationship to talk about, because people who barely understand abuse in queer relationships are doubly unprepared for when lesbians weaponize biphobia against their partners. “Homewrecker” made me feel seen and understood in a way I desperately needed.
Right after “Homewrecker” is “The Secret Joy of Accountability: Self-Accountability as a Building Block for Change” by Shannon Perez-Darby. I remembered this essay as another for my favorites from 2015, but its title scared me when I returned to it. Accountability for survivors? That sounds dangerously like victim-blaming. But it’s not. “Accountability” continues to strike me as a peculiar word choice, but the essay is about the fact that survivors make choices, even when those choices are constrained by violence against them, and that survivors’ resistance can look like abuse if you’re focused on individual actions instead of patterns of power and control in the relationship. This is crucial for anti-violence activists to understand, and it helped me release fear and guilt from my own relationship, too.
The next essay, “Seeking Asylum: On Intimate Partner Violence and Disability” by Peggy Munson, offers a crucial analysis of how unmet survival needs and the difficulty of accessing reliable caregiving makes disabled people susceptible to abuse and may even make sometimes-caring, sometimes-abusive partners more desirable than the alternative. It also discusses specific tactics abusers may use to maintain control over disabled victims, in connection with abusers’ more general strategies.
I won’t go over the rest of the book in such fine detail, but it contains reflections on survivors’ and community organizers’ guiding principles and language, their stories, and the specifics of their intervention strategies. The writers move smoothly and consciously between the general and the personal, so readers can observe practices that could be applied in other situations as well as how communities adapt those practices in their specific work. The Revolution Starts at Home is full of different organizations’ and communities’ step-by-step models for supporting survivors and holding abusers accountable. It helps me feel like there’s a way forward.
As co-editor Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha acknowledges in the preface to the second edition, The Revolution Starts at Home marginalizes sick and disabled people and trans women. Beyond Peggy Munson’s essay, disability rarely comes up in any way but survivors’ trauma. I long for resources about how to navigate situations of abuse in which two disabled people accuse each other of abuse and symptoms such as brainfog, memory problems, and dissociation complicate an already difficult situation. I want resources to help me distinguish between nonnormative but respectful disabled ways of being and relating in relationships and behavior that’s influenced by disability and crosses the line. This book can’t give me that.
The Revolution Starts at Home includes an essay by a trans guy (“Freedom & Strategy/Trauma & Resistance” by Timothy Colm), but it’s largely a letdown on trans issues and occasionally a complete mistake. Several essays mention genderqueer people as a vulnerable population, but they don’t really dig into the specific ways transness influences abuse situations. One of the resources in the back refers to society privileging “males and the male-identified” and devaluing “female and the female-identified,” which raises some cis-as-default red flags, and “Without My Consent” by Bran Frenner invokes the incoherent and transmisogynistic concept of “male bodied privilege.”
Still, The Revolution Starts at Home is a vital and foundational text for anyone experiencing or healing from intimate violence and anyone looking for preventative or reactive solutions. Wherever you are in your understanding of these issues, this book will give you information, strategies, and the hope to carry on. I’m glad to have it in my collection and expect to return to it many more times.