Dear Women's Education des femmes
I am writing to congratulate you and the editorial board of CCLOW for your special issues on violence.
At one time, violence against women was not recognized as a problem. Today, thanks to the efforts and the commitment of individual women and women's groups and to initiatives such as your own, this form of violence is being recognized for what it is--an insidious problem with disastrous social, economic and personal costs.
As Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, I believe that only a continuing effort, waged on all fronts, will be effective in changing the attitudes and features of society that fuel violence against women and that leave women feeling they are powerless to escape from violence. One key component of this effort is prevention through public education as a means of altering traditional behaviours and increasing awareness about the problem. Your readers are being provided with a unique opportunity to share in the reality of women's experience with violence and to identify ways of solving the problem.
I commend you for the considerable effort you are investing in the planning of these special issues. I look forward to reading the finished product.
by Morgan McClung
The following letter was sent to our editorial collective by a woman who has experienced extreme violence in her life. Morgan McClung clearly expresses the impact, power and control that violence exerts in women's lives. At the same time, because she is able to analyze her past, she helps us understand and gives us hope that we can counteract this violence. Though she may not be able to share the experience of her abuse at this time, she is able to share her experience of how it has affected her and how she continues to heal and learn. Clearly, her childhood experiences have affected her education; equally clearly, she is using education to overcome the fear and paralysis created by those experiences.
Your call for contributions to the Women's Experience of Violence issue of Women's Education des femmes has had a stronger influence on me and my writing than I could have anticipated. I am, therefore, not sending you my originally intended contribution, but a brief recounting of my experience of trying to send it to you. I think this experience shows what may be one of the most profound ways - that violence affects women's learning, by making us so afraid to tell the truth that we do not.
I have been working for over two years on my MA thesis in Adult Education, exploring connections among the issues of power in feminist educational praxis, knowing, and experience of intimate childhood sexual assault. This work is autobiographical. I had planned to send you part of the thesis introduction, in which I weave connections among these issues. in the literature and in my own life as a child, woman, student, researcher and educator.
I put off final preparation of this contribution for as long as I could (until two days before the due date) when I finally realized how afraid I was to send it in. Over the past two years, I have dealt with many levels and forms of that fear: fear of not being believed, understood or academically supported, fear of being rejected by my family, of a threatened lawsuit against myself and the university.
I had, I thought, resolved these fears by adapting a pseudonym, gaining unequivocal academic support from my department and the university administration, and dealing with the loss of most of my family through naming my abuse and abusers to them. So I thought that I didn't have much else to fear.