Common Questions & Responses
Together aims to change the conversation about sexual violence. This being said, we know it’s important to start the conversation first. Here are a few questions we’ve received in the past about the film, and our responses to these questions. Have another question? Email me.
Why are all the stories told by women? Why are men not represented as warriors in the film?
The stories in the film were submitted anonymously after a campus-wide call for submissions. All stories submitted were presented in the film. The lack of a male story in Together does not mean that no men experience sexual violence, but rather may speak to the stigma and challenges men face in sharing their stories.
All of these stories are so different. Some are terrible and some seem like they could be pretty common occurrences. How can they all be called sexual violence?
Comparing the stories is a natural way of processing the different experiences represented in the film. However, by and large, comparison leads to belittling the lived experiences of the people who these stories represent. While some stories may be more painful to hear for different people, they all represent moments in which people’s choices were taken away and their lives have been greatly impacted because of this. Deciding the degree of how horrible a story is doesn’t serve our mission to support and believe people who choose to share their stories.
Why didn’t any of these women just get up and leave when these incidents were taking place?
In moments of extreme stress or danger, our bodies can react in three ways: fight, flight, or freeze. All serve as a means of protecting ourselves from the danger we are experiencing, and often we “choose” right, in that we find a way to keep ourselves safe. Any “had-I-been-in-that-situation-I-would-have” thoughts are easy to think given the hindsight we are afforded in these moments of judgment. However, these discussions are not productive as we cannot possibly know how we would respond if we were experiencing the threat of sexual violence ourselves.
Freeze is an extremely common response to the threat of sexual violence.
Why can’t the people in the film just get over it?
If they could, they would. No one wants to experience these incredibly difficult “side effects” of sexual violence. As time passes, the effects of a warrior’s trauma may begin to change or become less pronounced, but the presence of these side effects in warriors’ lives is not an indication of how much this person wants to continue to be affected by their experience or how hard they are working to process their experience.
More on this topic: http://togetherfilm.org/connection/
Why didn’t any of these women move forward with punishing the person who sexually assaulted them?
Cases of sexual violence can be handled many different ways on college campuses and by the justice system. Even when cases are handled fairly and justly, warriors will still need support, beyond that legal proceeding, to find a way to heal from their experience. Focusing too much on the justice system to be the answer to a warrior’s pain, keeps us from doing the work we can do as friends, family members, peers, professors, etc., to support and believe a warrior’s story.
For further exploration of punishment, visit: http://togetherfilm.org/punishment/
Rape is so often a “he-said, she-said” situation. How can we trust the retellings of these stories?
What do we have to lose by believing these stories? We are not in charge of issuing punishment or acting as the detective for these cases. In hearing these stories, our only job is to listen. And if we are really listening, we may begin to see these people as human beings who have been really hurt. And if we get that far, then it’s our job to support them in whatever way we can.
For a more complete response, visit: http://togetherfilm.org/supporting-through-believing/
What should I say to best support my friend if they tell me their story?
We look to Brené Brown to explain Together‘s philosophy for supporting friends. She says, “One of the things we do sometimes, in the face of every difficult conversations, is we try to make it better. If I share something with you that’s very difficult, I would rather you say, ‘I don’t even know what to say right now, I’m just so glad you told me.’ Because the truth is, rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.”