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The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  901 ratings  ·  50 reviews
The Revolution Starts at Home is as urgently needed today as when it was first published. This watershed collection breaks the dangerous silence surrounding the “secret” of intimate violence within social justice circles. Just as importantly, it provides practical strategies for dealing with abuse and creating safety without relying on the coercive power of the state. It o ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 30th 2016 by AK Press (first published May 1st 2011)
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4.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  901 ratings  ·  50 reviews

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Jenny Gonzalez- Blitz
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who can separate wheat from chaff
Recommended to Jenny by: write up
A seemingly necessary anthology (EDIT AFTER READING CHRYSALIS COLLECTIVE ESSAY THIS IS NOT NECESSARY AT ALL), I picked this up at Word Up! a pop up bookstore in Washington Heights. I'm going to jot down thoughts on each essay as I read them.
1) Reclaiming Queer & Trans Safety - Morgan Bassichis Calls for dismantling of all governmental institutions that have thus far failed to keep us safe(police, prisons), but doesn't offer any realistic alternatives. Let's all confront rapists and abusers i
Roxanna Banana
I think this is essential reading, but with a critical mind. Maybe i don't believe in restorative justice, maybe i think there are too many people in the world. I think intimate violence needs to be addressed more often, but I think that white males SHOULD have the system used against them. Why does it need to be used against racialized people only? In the Chrysalis collective's story, a young activist of colour was sexually assaulted by a white male and they decided to use restorative justice. ...more
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tinea by: Adrienne
In the movement striving to create alternative, restorative forms of justice that respect survivors' needs and wishes while simultaneously respecting and embracing the humanity of aggressors, we are... somewhere muddying and confusing. This book lays out what has been tried and what has been theorized, and while it's clear that the visions have yet to pan out perfectly in practice, the experiences laid out here are practical enough that you start to see how the paradigm could work, could really ...more
Dec 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really good. Amazing combinations of survivor stories and personal writing with people who have a lot of experience within collectives, accountability circles, not-for-profits, social justice circles, organisations and queer communities about how they went about dealing with harm, what things worked, how they approached the situation, how it failed, and what their ethos was. The "practical" stuff wasn't separated from the emotional and holistic. I love how this book approaches the complicated wa ...more
woody fanon
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction-essay
five stars lit but I gave it a four for one reason: to confront abusers without support from qualified individuals is problematic. Sure, some abusive activists are capable of seeing the errors of their way but to determine that a meeting with peers will somehow encourage the abuser to stop is absurd. Self awareness and intelligence will not be the end all for abusive activists.
come on now.
This book is a collection of personal memoirs and reflections by a cross section of young activists on the subject of interpersonal sexual violence. Except for in one case, the book's authors employ opaque placeholder language like "community accountability" as a panacea cure-all that will, in the fullness of time, realise the optimum balance of justice and mercy in dealing with those accused of violence. The book has no suggestions or hope for corrective, however, and "community accountability" ...more
Joy Messinger
This was an important but hard read for me. I have a complicated relationship with community-based solutions violence & harm, deeply believing in their necessity as a prison abolitionist but also having witnessed the many times they haven't worked for me & others. That aside, I think this collection can give activists & organizers a lot to think about, discuss, practice, retweak, try again. I was most moved by "Ending Oppression. Building Solidarity. Creating Community Solutions." an ...more
Pragya Esh
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love it, but I was craving more on what to actually do when people in activist communities use violence against their partners.
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"While 'reverse isms' are not possible because of the lack of institutional power to subjugate folks in privileged groups, oppression (and the intersections of its various manifestations) does not operate in the linear or binary manner frequently represented in 'power and privilege charts.' This can present challenges to activist groups attempting to apply ideological frameworks when evaluating and responding to abuse in intimate relationships. The personal is political, but the personal is fran ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
It is one thing to talk about a world without police and quite another to try and figure out how to resolve conflicts in different ways. The essays in this book are not universally excellent, but this is a really good start for anyone thinking about these issues.
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lev by: sylas
i'm really glad i read this book. it offers many powerful, useful ideas AND strategies, which isn't always easy to find.
South End Press
Make your movement: Support indie publishers and indie bookstores directly, whenever you can! And does your local library have a copy yet? If not, remember your right to request a purchase.
Victoria Law
More stories, more experiences please! We need to share these strategies more!
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is one thing to have a critique of the way our criminal injustice system and communities handle harmful acts. It is an entirely different thing to actually have the answer when people ask what you should do instead. Nobody really has that answer, but the more we hear about what is being tried - successes and failures - the closer we will come to putting together a better alternative. Not all of the different parts of this book spoke to me, but it doesn't matter because we need as much of this ...more
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After many dog-eared pages, I have to give this book a solid 4 stars. It's a fast read, and if you're looking for specific information on best practices, accountability processes, support networks, there are a lot of clear how-tos and useful examples that will be part of important considerations in the future. If you're looking for stories of personal experiences that explain the nuances of abuse as it intersects with queer identity, disability, race, the justice system, or immigration status, t ...more
Kayla Rosen
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (ed. Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha), in 2015, not long out of an abusive relationship, and it helped me make sense of what I’d experienced. In it, I found people who had been in situations like mine, caught between oppression from society at large and abuse in their own relationships and communities. I returned to it this year for hope and guidance in dealing with v ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really essential for any community organizing. This was recommended to me by a friend, and it touches upon the intersections of queer identities and power dynamics. This is going to be helpful for the community organizing
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the most important book I have or will ever read. Immensely helpful, illuminating, and healing for anyone who has experienced relationship abuse, has perpetrated abuse, or is adjacent to an abusive relationship through friends or in their community -- that is, everyone.
The accounts and essays in this book contextualize the range of actions, reactions, decisions, and larger systems of oppression at play in abusive relationships. The focus is on this violence as it occurs in activ
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative, eclectic collection of pieces relating to intimate partner violence, especially in activist communities, mostly sexual minority communities. Raises lots of complications such as how same-gender couples violence throws off our usual assumption when decoding conflicting reports that it must be the (usually) larger and more physically powerful man who is the perpetrator and the woman who is the victim/survivor. Also deals with how perpetrators who are themselves members of oppressed gr ...more
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq, social-work
A helpful read for someone getting started in community activism around LGBTQ sexual or domestic/intimate partner violence. The works within include voices from the marginalized edges of the community and offer insightful and practical frameworks for supporting survivors in myriad ways (because there is no single right way).
Corey Wrenn
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely relevant resources, narratives, and critical thinking on the rarely discussed but systemic problem of oppression and violence within social justice spaces. As the authors point out, because social justice movements are so concerned with advancing a cause, they can be very reluctant to "air dirty laundry." Worse, they typically exhibit the same sexist, victim-blaming, male-worshiping mentality that plagues wider society. For people of color and queer folks (especially queer folks of col ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthology, aawoc, activist
There are some really insightful, thoughtful pieces in this anthology. I really appreciated the essays that got real about the pitfalls of attempts at restorative justice/accountability (shout out to the essay by Connie Burk). The pieces about peoples' personal experiences with IPV are also highlights of this anthology. But, as with all books about transformative justice/whatever I've come across, there is also victim-blaming garbage that raises my blood pressure sky high. Like the god-awful Chr ...more
What kind of justice do I want to see in society?

In Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon cautions us about a form of justice that simply seeks to reposition those who are at society's bottom at society's top, and then remove the people at society's top and relegate them to society's bottom. He reasons that simply replicating the structures of power and oppression with different actors in the roles isn't justice but just another permutation of injustice albeit flip-flopped. Can we really claim j
I took my time with this one. It's heavy and a lot of information to process. It hit home very hard at times.There is a lot of good stuff in this book from strategy to storytelling. The essays on practicing accountability often conflicted with one another a little bit offering multiple ways of looking at abusive behaviors in relationships. And I appreciated the disability essay (though I agree with the intro that there was not enough disability consideration in some of the writings) and the essa ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer, trans
This brought up a lot of feelings, and I don't really know what to say beyond that. In addition to sexual assault, it made me think a lot about mental health and disability and meanings of community and support and the fine line between self-care and selfishness. As I took stock of all that, and of how we all try so hard, and how we fail each other and ourselves all the fucking time, I just got super sad. I didn't finish the book, but I got about two thirds through. My favorite essay of what I r ...more
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
The Revolution Starts at Home is an essential read for survivors of intimate partner violence and anyone involved in radical politics and activism. This anthology-style zine gives survivors the platform to share what it is like to love someone who hurts you, who is a part of the radical community, whose politics survivors thought would coincide with their behavior, what is it like to be abused by the person who fights alongside you. The Revolution Starts at Home also provides resources on consen ...more

I would recommend this anthology as must-read for progressive activists. The authors address interpersonal violence in activists' lives, particularly from a woman-of-color perspective, addressing the ways in which interpersonal violence harms activists and activist work. These essays also offer practical solutions, idealistic in their vision and realistic when describing challenges. With a focus on transformative justice, this volume gives activists actual strategies to address violence without
Rachel Lee
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. Beautifully written. Compilation of essays and poetry exploring intimate violence, accountability, challenging/healing from abuse and trauma. It's focused on activist communities, but the info is applicable to anyone who is interested in healing from the trauma inflicted upon us daily by living in this rape culture that only allows for in piece meal solutions that are informed by the very systems they are purporting to challenge.

So Inspiring.

So Empowering.

So Enlighten
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not much to say about this one as the content is quite obvious from the title. Will say I was surprised by how much I already knew on the subject but still found it compelling to read. Of course, I learned from many of the essays here as well as reiterated previous knowledge. However, the one thing the book re-emphasized for me was how difficult it is to translate theory into practice when it comes to dealing with any kind of IPV in activist (or any) communities. A great resource for those looki ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very important read for anyone who is fighting for safe spaces for survivors of intimate violence. It's also a great introduction to transformative justice and definitely an important resource for survivors without support from a close-to-home community.

And while I whole-heartedly suggest buying a copy to support the project, there is a PDF online that can be found with a simple search!
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Ching-In Chen is author of 'The Heart's Traffic' (Arktoi Books/Red Hen Press) and 'recombinant' (Kelsey Street Press) and co-editor of 'The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities' (South End Press, AK Press) and 'Here is A Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets' (Achiote Press). A Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole and Callaloo Fellow, they are pa ...more