Media witnessing and the feminist labors of making survivors believable

Carrie Rentschler


This article examines the work survivors of sexual violence and abuse do to assert their credibility and the labor, in turn, that feminist journalists and activists do to help make victims and survivors believable. Drawing on a video clip made by the survivor that appears in Big Mouth and examples of survivor-based media witnessing in Canada, I analyze how survivors, anti-violence advocates, and feminist reporters build networks of media witnessing to address sexual abuse and assault, and provide the support and validation that survivors need. I approach their witnessing labor as affective and transmissible forms of movement work that carves out crucial spaces of informal justice for victims and survivors of gender violence and mobilizes forms of militant evidence that connect survivors to other survivors and social change intermediaries.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/723225