I have been asked, in a roundabout way, why I have taken the campaign around Em Kwissa’s book so personally… why I consider it so important.
First off, I think Emily is a great, talented, amazing person.
I remember how scared I was to admit I had been abused on stage, let alone in a book that can reach much, much further… and the abuse I was talking about can’t be compared in scope with what Emily went through.
And yes, I am in the book… in a way that melted my heart.
But if all this wasn’t enough, when Lulu pulled Emily’s book, my first reaction was anger on behalf of my friend. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized what a precedent this was setting. If this sort of policy was accepted widely, that would shut down anyone’s ability to talk about their experiences.
I am not going to talk about ‘truth’ here, because while I am 100% comfortable that Emily is telling the truth, I also understand that Lulu does not know her and has no reason to AUTOMATICALLY assume she is telling the truth.
But, really, how does that even matter in this context? She told her story and changed the names in it to hide his identity. Could people figure it out if they KNOW the family? Well, sure, but if they know the family they also likely know what happened and this doesn’t change anything.
But it made me think… my poem where I talk about being abused is in my book. I published through Blurb. Could someone who knew the family figure out who I was talking about in the context of the poem? Absolutely. We only ever had one male babysitter.
So, could this person file a complaint and stop me from telling that story? If Blurb has the same policies as Lulu, he could.
Is this about me? No way. But if it can happen to Emily, it could happen to me.
If it could happen to Emily, it could happen to ANYONE who has a story of abuse that they need to share. Silence those voices and it is yet another victory AGAINST people who have already been victimized – in some case, people who have been victimized a great deal.
So, yes, I will keep waving this flag until Emily asks me not to. I will do so with pride that this is a fight worth fighting and a cause worth standing up for.