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Rose McGowan gave a message of support for all the survivors supported by CSASS at Storyhouse Women
Rose McGowan gave a message of support for all the survivors supported by CSASS at Storyhouse Women

Storyhouse Women: Rose McGowan – Brave

Rose McGowan rose from the ashes to offer survivors this message of support

Members of CSASS went to watch Rose McGowan in conversation with Sam Baker at Storyhouse in her show ‘Brave’ which opened the Storyhouse Women Weekend at the end of April.

As a self-described survivor, Rose had much to say about the struggle women face when they own their story and acknowledge the wrongs that have been done to them though rape and sexual assault, and in some cases this involves pressing charges or naming their perpetrators. As Rose acknowledged, perpetrators and patriarchy have ‘a vested interest in keeping you quiet’, and if that doesn’t work, it is easy for them to ‘establish you as a crazy woman’. Countless women are ridiculed, belittled or labelled as mad when they talk about their abuse. It takes vast amounts of bravery and courage to speak up and speak out, especially when you face criticism for breaking the silence and transcending the cultural pressures which keep women quiet.  

For years, Rose had spoken about her assault by Harvey Weinstein, and she was able to finally write about it in her book ‘Brave’. Many women (80 to date) have come forward to accuse the Hollywood mogul of rape or sexual assault, and the seriousness of the situation inspired the Time’s Up Now movement which challenges the culture of sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. The ripple effect of survivors showing support for one another online is known as #MeToo and was originally created by Tarana Burke as a culturally-informed curriculum to discuss sexual violence within the Black community and in society at large, and the movement went global with survivors sharing their stories or showing solidarity using the hashtag.

Rose had words of encouragement for people who have been assaulted and the pressure they may feel to be 100% perfect. This is clearly an unattainable goal and is not the best form of recovery as you make yourself exhausted when the goal is to be strong. Rose suggested trying to be just 10% better. It’s a way you can show up for yourself and challenge the ways we keep ourselves small after abuse. She acknowledges that growth is painful, but that once we lean in to that pain we move forward, rather than hiding from it and staying stuck. The important thing is to do this without heaping extra suffering on ourselves and to replace any self-doubt by showing kindness to yourself: ‘for every bad thought you have, give yourself two good thoughts to even up the scales…Every scar makes you you – lead with softness not hardness.’ She said the best way forward is to not care about what people think of you and to be brave enough to be disliked. Women are brought up to be polite, but ‘being polite can kill you. Don’t be afraid of being rude. Create strong boundaries for yourself and listen to your vibes only. Women are trained to be polite, but this ties your hands behind your back.’

Speaking of recovery, she found solace in creativity. As an art therapist, I found her thoughts about how art can heal to be inspired. I have seen people access their personal power when they tap into their intuitive creative processes and develop their own visual language. Creativity goes hand-in-hand with personal healing and this is available to every person. The work is to figure out which art form heals you and to run with it. This is an enjoyable process in itself, whether your form of creativity is drawing, writing, poetry, dance, the way you arrange your flowers in a vase, your food on a plate, or the way you put on your makeup, creativity is within you to discover.

To end the talk, Rose directly addressed survivors with these encouraging words;

‘Everything in your arsenal that you’ve learned will help you grow. Everything that was stolen from you cannot be replaced, but you can rise up from the ash. You have it in you, and you can do it.’

Author – Kaety Moon, CSASS Outreach Manager