Coming Back From Repression

This week has been incredibly intense for me. I think I’ve experienced just about every range of emotions possible: fear, sadness, admiration, anxiety, doubt, awe, outrage, pain, grief, anger, regret, guilt, frustration, pride, heartbreak, hope & love.

All I’ve ever wanted to do in my life is to help stop animal suffering but twelve years ago, when I was just a teenager, I experienced a crushing level of repression because I tried to do the right thing in a world full of too many wrongs. The state purposefully isolated me from the animal rights community, subjected me to strict conditions for two years that forbade activism and then sentenced me to prison for four years (and gave me a five-year court order on top of that). I was forbidden from speaking with my friends and fellow activists, from working with any animal rights, animal welfare, human rights or environmental organisations and even from using the internet or a computer (amongst many other things). It’s been an incredibly painful journey to try to heal from. It’s been six years since I’ve been ‘free’, but in many ways my mind has remained imprisoned. Trauma takes your voice. It silences you and shames you. I have kept a low profile, partly because of paranoia about what I may say and how it may be interpreted and partly because I thought that I had nothing of value to say in a movement that has moved on.

This week, I did something that frightened the hell out of me. I went to a week-long event organised by activists working for justice for animals. Every alarm bell in my head rang. I know how the state can use absolutely anything to form a case against you and I knew it was safer to not go. I also know it’s safer not to even write this post. But I am tired. I’m tired of living in a world where animal abuse is normalised. I’m tired of being scared. I’m tired of remaining silent. I’m tired of being ‘safe’.

This week, I met some of the most amazing, beautiful, kind, courageous activists from around the globe who are working in so many different ways towards animal liberation and making so many sacrifices for it. Their bravery, their determination, their ingenuity, their compassion and their perseverance inspire me. Activism is not easy. Risking your freedom is not easy. Prison is not easy: it’s tough; it’s scary and it can be traumatising to recover from. Yet at the end of the day, it will never ever compare to what the animals go through every single second of every single day. It’s called a struggle because the path will not always be easy. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it breaks you. Sometimes, we can heal ourselves just enough so that in whatever broken way, we can come back and try again. 

So this is me trying. I’m broken from my experiences in more ways than I thought possible, but I’m dusting my knees off and trying again. Thank you to all the amazing activists out there. You are all incredible and you all inspire me to do better and to be better. My heart is filled with so much love for every single one of you and I’ll always be here for you if any of you are struggling. Together we will achieve animal liberation!

Until every animal is free x