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Why Safer Spaces?

Why the Hysteria Collective does not work with perpetrators and why we support the creation of safer spaces.
Why Perps Aren't Allowed:
Due to the large amount of community concern and feedback we feel it is important to address why Hysteria, a collective confronting sexual assaut, does not work with perpetrators. And why we enact a safer space policy at all our events that does not allow known perpetrators to attend.

Hysteria was formed as, and continues to be, a collective that works with survivors of sexual violence, not perpetrators. Initially we came up with
a collective boundary that said we would not work with perpetrators at all. However, over the past year and a half we have found this impossible to avoid. We do talk and provide resources to perpetrators when needed, but we still realize how important it is not to do too much of that work. We are a collective that wants to focus our time and energy on survivors and community education. We do not want our energy to go into perpetrators; we want our energy to go into survivors and safer spaces.

When a survivor publicly calls out their perpetrator normally the cycle is that the survivor loses friends, stops going out, and maybe even leaves town. We work to destroy this cycle. We do not advocate or even want perpetrators to be ostracized, but we do want them to
be accountable and acknowledge how their actions have and will always effect other people. Safer spaces are important because they offer survivors a place to go where they will not have to worry about running into perpetrators or oppressive behavior. We firmly believe one step in stopping the cycle is the creation of safer space policies and therefore at all our events we publicly ask known perpetrators to not attend and if they chose to we will ask them to leave.

Also, when people are publicly called out it is very common for the surrounding community to not be - or unsure how to be - supportive to the survivors needs. We want to pass along education and resources to create a supportive and safe community. These are areas we make priorities and will continue to work on. We do want to see more work done with perpetrators, but our collective is not the one do this work, we
have other goals and more projects than we could ever hope to finish. Hysteria fully supports any group that wants to step up and do this work and would love to be allies. This town and the radical community here desperately needs a mens group as well as a group working with perpetrators and we make ourselves available to talk to anyone thinking of picking up these projects.

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Yargh! 13.Feb.2005 18:09


As far as I can see, most of the work hysteria does is punishing perpetrators. I have not seen nearly as much work being done to support survivors as I have seen punishment of men called out for sexual assault or rape. I understand that you want to abolish sexual assault in this utpoian manner, but it's simply not going to happen that way. Just like this 'system' we live in is not going to be abolished through the sole use of pacifism, education, and civil disobediance. When someone has fucked up, they need to be dealt with on a case by case basis. Some people need to have the shit beat out of them, some don't. I'm not saying that survivors aren't the priority. They are. But it's my opinion that hysteria needs to learn to practice that as well as the rest of us. You've got to face the facts. Unless you are willing to deal with perpetrators, the problem will never go away.
" We do not advocate or even want perpetrators to be ostracized, but we do want them to
be accountable and acknowledge how their actions have and will always effect other people." I disagree with this. Hysteria has, at least as far as my interactions go, advocated and silently threatened nothing less than complete ostritisation from the community, in many different ways. Again, I don't think that ostracizing a perpetrator is always a bad thing. But every case is conditional. Also, if you want perpetrators to take accountability for their actions, you have to allow space for them to do that. All I have seen is hysteria telling perps that they are not doing enough, they are not doing well enough, despite the fact that they have done everything asked of them. You have to acknowlege when someone is actually taking accountability for the accountability process to succed. "Safer spaces are important because they offer survivors a place to go where they will not have to worry about running into perpetrators or oppressive behavior." Hysteria as far too often acted out these opressive behaviors they are so outspoken against. You have made me scared to go to hysteria benefits or anywhere where I might run into one of you. I have never been called out for sexual assault or rape. I am a womyn and you, hysteria, scare me. You make me feel unsafe in this town far too often.

" Hysteria fully supports any group that wants to step up and do this work and would love to be allies." From first hand experience with hysteria, I find this frustrating. You are only willing to work with other groups if they agree completely with how hysteria runs itself. You have never been open to critism, even when it is constructive and given respectfully. "This town and the radical community here desperately needs a mens group as well as a group working with perpetrators" There are already groups in place that have taken on these functions. From what I have heard, they have recieved little support, or even acknowlegement, from hysteria.

Iknow I sound cynical here, but I am tired of hysteria being this hollier than thou presence here in Portland. No one really wants this town to be affiliated with your group or the way you function, with the exception of your close knit group of friends and fans. Ideally what you say you want to do with hysteria sounds great, but you aren't living up to your propaganda. You are idealist, frightening, opressive, elitist, power-hungry, and hypocritical. Sorry, but I really don't like you, hysteria. (By the way, what kind of a name is hysteria for a group who takes themselves so seriously.)

in defense of hysteria 13.Feb.2005 18:32

surivor's ally

hysteria does support survivors of sexual assault, even at times that nobody else in the community is doing so. For example...
survivors often feel uncomfortable [gee, i wonder why] in the same space at perpetrators of sexual violence.
my best friend would never come back to portland again if they didn't know what work hysteria was doing on their behalf in confronting the sexual assault that happened to them here in portland.

I applaud hysteria, and don't think we need to spend our time backlashing against people who are trying to make spaces safe.

hysteria seems a-okay 13.Feb.2005 19:20


I have never seen what happens when hysteria calls out a perpetrator so I really can't give my opinion on the way they do that. I have, however gone to many a hysteria benefit (and I wouldn't classify myself as one of their "friends or fans") and know that the money made at those events helps them to fund counseling for survivors of sexual assault. I also know that I have been to several workshops hosted by hysteria and have been impressed with the knowledge they had to share. And I am also aware that they are currently running a free support group for survivors of sexual assault. As for "all of us not wanting hysteria to be associated with our town," I just got back from the east coast and was pretty proud to hear folks back there talking about the climate around sexual assault that exists in Portland, and funny enough, most of the people I talked to about it had heard of and enthusiastically supported hysteria's work. So to the original poster, please speak for yourself and your own group of 'friends and fans' before you shrug off a group that many members of the community take pride in. Also, I have never heard of the groups in which you are refering to at the end of you comment. Is it possible that hysteria collective just straight up hadn't heard about them, like me and many others haven't? Maybe instead of spending time bashing groups that are actually doing work (though of course no one is perfect) you could spend that time getting some work done yourself? If you don't like the way this organization runs maybe you should start you own--it wouldn't hurt to have two active militant feminist collectives organizing in the city.

Focus is good. 13.Feb.2005 20:15


It's good to keep your groups focus on what it is you're trying to accomplish. But get this, without perps' there would be no victims. It's called prevention.

. 13.Feb.2005 22:53

Perpetrator and survivor.

I respect what hysteria does and is trying to do. I distinctly am not aliegned with what the previous poster refered to as "your close group of friends." About ten years ago I had raped a woman. At the time I didn't understand that it was rape. This doesn't make it any less rape. I grew up believing that sex was a dominant act, that mixed messages were erotic, that there was an element of pain in erotic acts. I am not alone in this conditioning. The night I hurt this woman, I was told that everything was ok. I thought I was in love with her, and that we would be together again. Days after, she told me I raped her. She told me never to contact her again. I haven't.

Working in a community where activists do what hysteria does, has changed my perception of what healthy sexual relationships are. I had no role model. My models were the media, abusive drug adicts, and perpitrators against others and myself.

Since then, I've survived three distinct attempts to rape me. These expierences, pushed me to try to seek out and learn from survivors about what is healthy. This has helped me learn how to escape the view as sex as somthing consumptive. It's been a long, difficult process that I'm still dealing with.
It's helped me better understand how to respect people in general.

I think that Hysteria faces some unique challenges. I'm sorry that I don't have the time here to address this more. I think that hysteria does it or not people on the periefery seem to capitalize on the grief that both survivors, and perpetrators (if they are any kind of moral biengs) are going through. I understand the need to provide safe spaces for survivors. I respect this. I havn't seen anything that would make me believe that hysteria capitalizes on anyones greif. If anything they've been remarkably restrained in dealing with some perpetrators.

Tell me if this is an inappropriate thread or space to address this please.

I think that there needs to be a group of men that are perpetrators, or are expressing signs of consumptive/distructive sexuality to deal with thier issues. I agree that to the extent that survivors have demands the perpetrators should work to meet them. I do not know what can be done to keep other activist from capitalizing on perpetrators attempts at positive change. I've heard it said that activists that are perpetrators, can't change. I don't agree. I think this theory gets in the way of a really collective response to this societal and personal desease that is rape, and rape culture.

Thank you for talking about this.

what mens' groups? 14.Feb.2005 11:47


pdxgal states, "There are already groups in place that have taken on these functions["a mens group as well as a group working with perpetrators"]. From what I have heard, they have recieved little support, or even acknowlegement, from hysteria."
Well, I think you heard wrong. I would love it if you could name one, but I think the last men's group dissolved about a year ago, and I don't know that there has been any group that works with perpetrators in the radical community in the past few years.
So don't bash Hysteria out of hearsay. And if you can name a group as such, I would be oh so happy. The reality is that very few perpetrators, or even male-priveleged people in general, want to organize and make an effort to stop this cycle of violence because in many ways it is in their peronal interest (power) not to do so. I think that is another reason why Hysteria doesn't work very much with perpetrators--because they're uncooperative and a pain in the ass.

Survivor Support 14.Feb.2005 12:46


So, I should admit off the bat that I probably qualify as a "friend or fan" of the hysteria collective. But being in this position, I have witnessed many of their projects that definitely do not involve punishing perpetrators. Hysteria provides funding for counseling for survivors, a free survivor support group, educational materials at various shows/events, free workshops on a variety of topics (consent, alternative relationships, self-defense, etc.), as well as an alternative to traditional methods of dealing with sexual assault. These events are advertised here on indymedia as well as in various local publications and are flyered around town. It's too bad that pdxgal only knows of a small part of Hysteria.

I also want to second the sentiment that I would love to know of any radical men's group in town as well as any organized group of perpetrators who are commited to working on their shit. I honestly have seen none of this in the past couple of years. I have heard many people talking about the need for it, but have yet to see it materialize. If anyone has any more info on this, please share.

Men's Group? 14.Feb.2005 14:44


I've worked with Hysteria on several occassions, on both calling out perps and helping the survivors. Hysteria is one of the few collectives in Pdx that DOES something. Like a previous poster said, if you don't agree with them, do something yourself.

Pdxgal, the reason you never hear about Hysteria helping survivors is because they respect the survivor's right to not have their name publicized.

One of the other features on Rape Culture had a comment on it that had to do with starting a men's group. I don't know what came of it but it may be worth looking into for those of you who have commented that you're interested. Here's the link:

....... 14.Feb.2005 15:21


I know of groups of men who talk together and try to work through their male privelege and what it means to be called out for sexual assault. They don't have some cool name. They don't even have a name yet, and I don't think that needs to happen for them to be effective. As far as I know, they are not interested in working with hysteria. This isn't because they are disinterested in confronting male privelege, not because they refuse to take accountability for their actions, but because has not shown any of THEM that their efforts amount to anything.

I'm not saying that everything hysteria does is bad. I've also recently met new members of hysteria who seem down to earth and have really great ideas about new projects and directions for the collective. But I, as well as a good portion of the community in portland, have seen an overwhelming hypocracy, lack of basic human respect(towards womyn, trans womyn, and survivors), and unwillingness to work on their shit that appear to permeate the collective. I do not want to be that asshole who feels the need to sit here and shit talk about hysteria on INDYMEDIA, although I realize that's basically what this amounts to. I just have a really hard time with hysteria being shown as this perfect, revered group of people, when I have seen the negative effects they have had.

I have seen hysteria take on campaigns against men called out for sexual assault when the survivor had never asked hysteria for their input and when she had specifically asked for things to stay between her and the man who assaulted her.
I have seen a happy, sex positive womyn be told she cannot have sex with her partner because hysteria said he shouldn't be allowed to have sex. She felt this was a form of sexual assault, but even after this was repeatedly brought to hysteria, they still ignored the assault.
I have seen hysteria focus all their attention on a man called out for sexual assault while the womyn who called him out was obviously not getting the support she needed to learn to be happy again.

I will not criticize any womyn who decides that working with hysteria is what she needs to feel supported. I will not criticize but praise any person who has the courage to speak out when they are sexually assaulted or raped. And I will not criticize hysteria for the basic premise they are trying to work from. But I haven't seen them do that yet. I have tried before, as have many other people, to talk to hysteria, directly and respectfully, about better ways to approach their interactions with perpetrators and people in their accountability networks. They didn't show, at least at the time, that they were willing to even so much as listen to what was being said.

To all the members of hysteria. I really can do nothing but wish you the best at this point in learning how to do this enormous job you have taken on. It's hard, I know. And there are a lot of issues raised about how you are doing what you are doing. I understand and accept that you are all only human and will therefor make mistakes. I just don't want to see more people hurt in this process than already have been.

whatev' 14.Feb.2005 16:49

not too cool

Whatever, hysteria is set up only to support the elite anarchafeminist movement, and they decide who perps are. The whole organization is set up to fund raise for their community to go to counseling, forget about everybody else.

. 14.Feb.2005 18:01

Perpetrator and survivor.

Someone asked what hysteria means. I am not defining what it means to this group but I heard a radio program recently that talked about an early feminist poet of great renown. She was diagnosed by male doctors as having "hysteria." Male chauvanists used to believe that when a woman was unhappy in her marrage, or with the condition of her life in general it this meloncholy was a symptom of a sickness in her reproductive organs. Because of this sick propoganda many woman were forced to have thier reproductive, and other organs believed to be associated with feminimity, surgicly removed. This is what the term hysteria means. I heard that the last diagnosis of hysteria made in this country was made in the early 1970's.
You can thank militant feminists for confronting this madness.

I think that any mens group aimed at dealing with perpetrator tendancies should not be a "public" organization. There should be a contact person that interacts with hysteria to make sure that the mens group is holding the members that have a survivor accountability process to thier process. A public mens group creates this danger of men joining the group to gain credibility for addressing thier issues. As a person that has raped, and has narrowly escaped bieng raped, it makes me sad and ashamed to get props for dealing with my shit. There's a big difference between recieving personal encouragement, and recieving social power for addressing your personal problems. Thank you to all the people that have helped me address issues.

I have no interest in joining a process aimed at gaining crediblity for perpetrators. I have no interest in joining a process that is completly open or public. I have little interest in joining any process thats goal, or functional organizational structure is aimed at ostracizing anyone that is working on facing thier sickness, this explicitly includes "anarchist" process. In a group aimed at confronting personal power, it is dangerous to deny that power exists in your group. I feel like I've made some progress at dealing with my issues over the last ten years. I'd like to share somthing of this with other men. I am not "afraid" of losing power by dealing with my personal issues. True power isn't found in lies, or hiding who you are. I do fear social capitalism, and ostracisation in our community. I've seen people use all kinds of shit to tear each other down around here.

hey whatev 14.Feb.2005 18:37

what the fuck

Who else to you want them to raise money for? You want them to waltz in and start telling communities they are not involved in how to run their lives, or do some sort of charity? Plus, as far as I am aware, and I have a friend who has recieved survivor support from hysteria collective, they make open call outs for people to use their resources, fliers, announcements and all of that. Also, being a member of the "punk" or "anarchist" community, I'm well aware of how little these commuties actually support the active groups among us, financially or otherwise. They probably don't have the money to do anything else. I'm from the midwest and have live here a few years. Everytime a group comes out and starts doing shit (ACA, ACAN, Hysteria, Books to Prisoners etc) you portland folks are all up in their shit. I think you're all a bunch of idiotic, spoiled assholes. Try supporting the organizations in your community--at least they exist.

To: pdxgal 15.Feb.2005 09:43


First, you say that there is a men's group in pdx and that hysteria gives "little support or even acknowlegement" (like hysteria needs to breast feed them or something). Later, you say the pdx men's group has no name and wouldn't even want to meet with hysteria. It seems to me that you are a fustrated trash talker. You should think of the problems that you cause by allowing the crap to spill from your lips.

I wasn't and still am not a part of the hysteria click. These folks are a tight crowd. They would need to be tight and have a hell of a tough name to withstand the trashtalk and backlash (pdxgal).

Hysteria saved my life and prob. dont even know my name. I get so depressed that nobody is doing anything about sexual assult. I felt alone in my fustration and anger. I am so excited that people are starting to deal with sexual assult in this community. I am glad that there is support groups and free classes. I am glad that when I get the guts to go to a therapy that I will not have to pay out of my own pocket to mend myself because I was raped by an activist male in this community!

I think hysteria should continue to work within this community. We need it and nobody else is going to do the work. Also...why hit communities that you know very little about. They are not a national organization. It's great that folks are frightened of hysteria (pdxgal). I have only heard of hysteria helping survivors and building educational resources. I am sure that the truth lies in the middle and that is alright by me.That means hysteria are a true threat to the rape culture that pdx embrasses and protects. It's about fucking time!

whaaaat? 15.Feb.2005 09:46


Hey "what the fuck," why are you assuming "whatev" is from Portland, and what gives you the right to paint everyone out here with that brush? Lots of people from all over come and post on Portland IMC, yourself included. So shut the fuck up about Portlanders. If it weren't for us you wouldn't have this resource you're posting on right now.

Calm down 15.Feb.2005 14:04

Level Headed

I have heard stories from both sides about why Hysteria is needed (which I believe it is, I just think it needs to be a little more thorough before it openly labels someone as an attacker) and why it is a threat. Due to the nature of a community organization that deals with such a sensitive and destructive issue, I can see why people get carried away. I am sure that helping womyn who have been attacked tends to create a sort of jaded view of men in general. This isn't an attack on anyone's beliefs or perceptions, but if I were in the same position, I wouldn't be surprised to find myself naturally distrusting as well.

To make myself understood a little more, rape culture exists. I am going to admit that, and I do my best to face it. However, I also believe there needs to be more of a cooperative nature in dealing with it. Ostrasizing and humiliating attackers, or people who have been labeled attackers, will not end it. It needs to be brought into the open, discussed, and dealt with in our minds before it will be eradicated.

Attackers are also not to be pampered. However, many attackers may not realize the extent of the damage they have done, and may not realize that they have been socialized to think in the male-centric, heterosexist fashion that they do. As 'Perpetrator and survivor' points out, a lot of work had to be done to deconstruct this form of thought and action. He has obviously done a great deal of work on himself, and I applaud and congratulate him. Letting someone do this themselves can be a dangerous tactic though, and I believe that if a perpetrator seeks help, it should be given. Yes, safe spaces are important as well, and it is important to try and maintain them. At the same time I beleive that it is important to try and maintain the entire scene as safe, and this is hard to do when a perpetrator may not be able to get the help that THEY need to overcome the type of mentality that led to the attack in the first place. An untreated person is likely to continue with their destructive behavior, and that is dangerous to everyone.

Just trying to interject a little calm opinionation into what has started to become a mud-slinging and name-calling mudfest.

Yes, I am a male, and I am male-identified. I am also being the most open person that I can be, and I attempt to be as fair as I can.

Re: Level head 15.Feb.2005 14:36


What makes you think that this has anything to do with gender? Hysteria has supported my male friend. Don't attempt to make this seem like an irrational catfight. I have no need for your non-informed hippy talk. Paul Carcus

Attn: pdxgal 15.Feb.2005 14:48

Walking and talking

Hysteria has their e-mail address posted. I think you should write them with your complaints or concerns. If you don't want to help hysteria to make things better...what are you trying to do? If you are invested in more than mudslinging and spreading gossip then talk to them in a non-public form. Talk the talk and walk the walk.

RE: Paul 15.Feb.2005 16:49

Trying to KEEP a Level Head

Thanks for helping. That was really appreciated. I was civil and you picked out something that I'm still working on.

Also, I never claimed to KNOW anyone in or involved with Hysteria, I said I heard stories, and I'm going from what I've heard because I have trusted the sources of them. I also pointed out NO ONE in particular, and was not trying to make this seem like "an irrational catfight," as aside from 'pdxgal' (which is still assumed by the name) you don't know the gender identities of anyone else posting, and frankly calling it a catfight is sexist in origin as well, and frankly I have no idea where you got that from.

In regards to gender, yes, I mistakenly made it a gender issue. Fine, sorry. But it's damn hard to be sorry when people like you come down on someone in a negative fashion with your shittalking instead of a polite response. I can take a correction. It's assholes like YOU that prevent anyone from WANTING to get involved or more knowledgeable, you create a backlash.

I just knew someone was going to get the wrong impression. The whole point of my post was to put forth my opinion and hopefully start a calmer discussion as opposed to all the hostility that was going on before it, and apparently after it as well.

RE: Paul 15.Feb.2005 16:58

Jack Straw

Whatever form of social oppression you are fighting, be it of the nature that that Hysteria works with or not, it will never go anywhere as long as we continue to throw stones at each other. And to call Level Head a hippy seems so off topic, unsubstantiated and immature. We must all work together to bring down the walls of oppression or else we are just playing tug of war and holding the wall up.

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