‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ prompted important conversation | Guest Column

by Luann Pamatian

SAFE San Juans advocate

Domestic violence. Sexual assault. These are words we do not like to hear, and we really don’t want to believe that they exist. We don’t want to think that it is “all that bad.”

It is all that bad. In the United States on average, 20 people experience intimate partner sexual violence every minute. In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator. These are facts according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The #MeToo movement has brought an awareness to these subjects.

Orcas Center’s recent production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” showed the graphic portrayal of this violence. Many people have been triggered. It is not easy to watch some of the scenes, and some attendees left at the intermission. It happened in New Orleans in 1947, and it still happens on Orcas Island in 2019. This is not a period piece. It happens in every community and affects all people regardless of age, socioeconomic status, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. Not talking about domestic violence and sexual assault does not make it go away. It keeps it in the dark and it makes it worse.

“A Streetcar Named Desire” has started community conversations to shed light into the darkness. The play is about power and control, rape, violence, mental health, alcoholism and so much more.

We held a “talk-back” after the Jan. 31 show, and it was a critical first step in healing. We talked, we shared and we listened. Orcas is our home and our community, and we felt safe enough to share even when it wasn’t easy. We need to talk about these issues and tell our stories. These are conversations that need to start sooner in life, rather than later.

I hope high school students will see this play someday, and talk about it with an adult who answers questions honestly and encourages ongoing conversations about these tough subjects. By discussing openly with our children about healthy relationships, they will learn what is good. By teaching our young about consent, they will learn what consent is. Talking to someone you trust is the beginning of recovery.

Thank you to Orcas Center, Robert Hall and each person involved in this provocative play, especially keeping it the way Tennessee Williams wrote it and not portraying the watered-down Hollywood version. This play is an awareness tool for social change. Let’s keep the conversations going.

At SAFE San Juans we have trained advocates and counselors to support you. We are available 24/7 on our local crisis line at 360-376-1234. We are here for you. Please know that you are not alone.