Kevin Kantor's Powerful Words On What Happened When Facebook's 'People You May Know' Suggested His Rapist

*Trigger warning*

Poet Kevin Kantor's spoken word performance at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational captured the attention of thousands for good reason.  

In his piece, entitled "People You May Know," he passionately talks about one side effect of social media that virtually never gets discussed — unfeeling algorithms connecting you to people you may know, but wish you didn't. 

His poem begins with a sting: "When my rapist showed up on the 'People You May Know' tab on Facebook, it felt like the closest to a crime scene that I've ever been." 

He continues to describe the feeling of clicking through his attacker's photos, having access to images of his daily life, and what it means to humanize a person he's worked so hard to metaphorically bury.

Listen to Kantor's powerful piece here:

Though Kantor's performance is a personal narrative, his experience of that seemingly innocuous Facebook tab as a trigger is not entirely unique. That's because most survivors of sexual assault know their attacker.

According to RAINN, an anti-sexual assault national organization, two out of three rapes were "committed by someone known to the victim." 

And Kantor's poem doesn't just highlight this dark side of using social media. He also talks about what it means to speak out as a male survivor of sexual assault. 

"If nothing else, I hope people realize that the systems in place that work to shame and silence male survivors of sexual violence are the same ones that work to invalidate the voices all survivors: women, trans* people, gender non-conforming folk," Kantor told The Huffington Post. "I was asked why I, as a man, didn't 'fight back,' in a society that privileges and presupposes a dominant masculine identity. I believe one of the first steps in advocating for all survivors of sexual violence and abolishing our country's pervasive rape culture is championing the cause of gender equality."

Kantor's poem is certainly a move in the right direction by just raising awareness, and creating discussion around these very important issues.  And beyond the conversation there exist many resources for survivors of sexual assault like RAINN and AfterSilence to help them and their supporters cope, and feel connected to a safe community. 

(H/T: Button Poetry

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