Zine of the Week 19/01/14: Cindy Crabb (Ed.) – Support

Cindy Crabb (ed.) – Support
2002, 63 pages, $4 in Canada (order)
Acquired at: Pressed Zine Rack

Sexual abuse zine "Support" by Cindy Crabb of Doris zine.

This zine deals with sexual abuse and recovery, and as such I’ll be touching on these topics in my review. If there’s a possibility this will trigger you, please be careful.

“You know how there are supposedly two instinctual responses – fight or flight? Well, there’s also freeze. You can see it everywhere in nature, especially in animals that are under constant attack.

Like deer. If a cougar is trying to get a deer, right before it catches it the deer will lay down and freeze. Its heart beats slow, its breath quiets, its muscles rigid. It won’t move an inch. A friend tells me about this. She says, ‘Frozen, the soul can go somewhere it won’t be touched. Frozen, maybe the cougar will just pass it by. Frozen, if it does get killed, maybe it doesn’t hurt as much.'” 

Support, a compilation edited by Cindy Crabb of the venerable Doris zine and press, is a necessary zine about a difficult topic. It seems in the past ten years or so the mainstream has groggily come to a belated awareness of the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence; the statistics are a damning indictment of our culture. As many have responded by turning a blind eye to rape culture and continuing to blame its victims, the approach taken by Support (originally published in 2002) is more necessary than ever.

The word Support in this instance has a double meaning. The zine supports survivors by sharing personal stories and coping strategies; simultaneously, it aims to educate their friends and partners on how best to support loved ones. Intimacy with survivors can have its challenges, and no two stories or reactions are alike. Some of the narratives and comics in the zine are difficult, unflinching reads, and understandably there isn’t a lot of humour, though many of the writers do come off as personable/approachable people. What one does find, in fits and starts, are quiet acknowledgements of their tremendous and justifiable pride in continuing to live with and in spite of their trauma.

comic from Support zine sexual assault survivor

Another important topic throughout Support is the matter of consent. The zine opens with an 83 question consent questionnaire, which has both practical value in that it forces the engaged reader to consider their/her/his opinions about consent, and rhetorical value in that its very length illustrates the complexity of the topic. The questions range from “Do you think consent can be erotic?” to “Do you think if a person has a body that can get pregnant, and they don’t want to, that it is their responsibility to provide birth control?” Educating people of all genders and sexualities on consent is crucial, perhaps particularly for young cis men, who have generally been ill-served how society frames their attitudes towards sex. Speaking personally, I feel fortunate in some ways that none of my sexual encounters as a teen went very far, because  I made mistakes and it’s possible they could’ve been worse. Even today I feel like I’m learning and zines like Support help.

Crabb and her colleagues argue convincingly that preventing abuse and supporting survivors is a collective responsibility, and its an important read even if you are not aware of any survivors in your personal circles (believe me, you know some). The zine can be ordered from Crabb’s Doris Distro, and there is also a free .pdf version online accessible here.

Support  back cover detail

JM’s JaM: Waxahatchee – You’re Damaged

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2 Responses to Zine of the Week 19/01/14: Cindy Crabb (Ed.) – Support

  1. lily p says:

    Hey JM, just a note that there is a LOT of pressure for people, in talking about their experiences with assault and abuse to come across as “personable/approachable people” (& not be too strident, too angry, or too visibly fucked-up), so I would exercise a lot of caution in praising people for being personable when they talk about their experiences with this kind of stuff, since it also implies a condemnation of the converse– talking about assault in a way that’s not personable or approachable.

    • That’s a really good point Lily. I was trying to get across that the zine has a real mix of voices and perspectives that make it accessible to anyone who wants or needs information about survivor support (i.e. everyone). Can see how it would read as preferential toward those who took a less strident tone in their pieces, but wasn’t at all the intention. I will be more careful with my wording (and thinking) in future!

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