We are not a charity

Disclaimer: We don’t think all charities are bad. There are some great charities,  many are incredibly necessary. We just choose to work outside this model as we think there needs to be proper alternatives as well as huge systematic change.

We don’t want to be a charity. We reject fitting into a pre-existing structure because we see so many problems with all charity organisational structures.

We want to create a separate way of organising based on solidarity, redistribution of resources, coalition, mutual support and real community.

The problem with the UK charity system is that dangerous structures have created a set of fixed rules and regulations that determine how we ‘help’ people. These structures fundamentally block the ability to create organically grown spaces of support, in ways that are human, exciting and desperately needed.

The Charity Commission has a set of regulations to adhere to, consisting of standards and terms that require charities to report their organisation’s operations to them. They decide what is and isn’t ‘help’, they decide what is and isn’t allowed. A charity legally has to register with them if their project’s income is over £5k (unless of course the charity is a Christian church, chapel or charitable service funds of the armed forces, who are exempt from this regulation).

To register as a ‘charitable organisation’ and get the benefits (such as access to the majority of grants) we have to mould our project to fit one of the systems set out. A constitution, trustees or committee members, specific reports and monitoring, a particular set of rules and policies are required. Whilst this has purpose, it can also be dangerous and reductive, blocking both creativity and projects to naturally blossom, grow and change in ways that actually work for the people involved. 

Of course, there are reasons why these things exist. In theory the CC should be regulating how large amounts of money is being spent, what charity looks like, how help is being offered to check that it does actually meet a need. 

We don’t feel they are succeeding in their objectives.

The monitoring of charities’ finances seems to overlook the importance of fair distribution of funds.  For example, the average income for a CEO in the largest 100 charitable organisations was £155,000 in 2019. The average income for a support worker is £19,000 (that’s a £9.13 hourly wage). This sustains the inequality and hierarchies that charities are supposed to be fighting. 

We find questionable what the CC defines as charity or “help”. We believe if they are monitoring care and support, that they should be focusing on ensuring those with lived experience are central to the set up and delivery of the organisation. At the very least organisations should be informed by these people. Instead the focus is elsewhere.  

Under current CC regulations, anyone can set up a charity to support people without any understanding of their experience, so long as the right basic policies and procedures that fall in line with the charity commission are in place. Charities are renowned for deciding what others need before asking. Some registered charities are causing more harm than help (according to those who access their support). 

A lot of assumptions are made within charities about our experience, our identity and our recovery. 

Survivors in particular are perceived a certain way that often takes away our autonomy and power. We are told that ‘for our safety’, we have to use the service a certain way, that has been decided by those who set up the organisation. Our “safety” is often used as an excuse to hold control within spaces rather than protect us from harm. The normalised charity structure encourages this.

Having both worked for and been supported by many charities and support providers, we have seen this kind of hierarchy, oppressive structures and unhelpful stereotyping of survivors, time and time again.

For us, the connotations alone around the word “charity” are negative. Charity is the idea of “giving” to those in need, often who are deemed inferior. Within the charity sector help is often delivered as rescuing; the charity or individuals involved see themselves as a saviour in their giving of support.

There is a lack of acknowledgement for the context and reason behind why people need help in the first place, and instead we victimise and disempower those being supported by seeing them as “other”. Their misfortune is seen as something disconnected from the society we operate in, live in and benefit from, rather than how society has allowed for these circumstances to exist.

This creates problematic power dynamics. Rather than correcting injustice, sharing aid and redistributing resources fairly, it is often one group of privileged people feeling superior in their giving to another group of people who are seen as helpless and incapable. 

The charity commission not only allows for these dynamics but reinforces this idea of what charity is. Through determining what the framework of giving support looks like, it disallows for alternative spaces to independently manage meeting their community’s needs. 

Being given the freedom to self-determine what we are and how we operate is essential. People on the ground need to be able to freely support those in crisis and difficulty. We need to be trusted that we have the knowledge and competence in our projects to allow agency when meeting shifting needs.

We don’t agree with having to meet a structure that we see as fundamentally flawed. We operate instead on trust, need, transparency, empathy and compassion. We aim to work in solidarity rather than help, creating collective responsibility for supporting one another and a space for exchange of support and ideas, rather than a service that simply provides support. We want to create a space where we can acknowledge making mistakes but won’t try to cover our backs with policies. We will be open and transparent in how we grow from these opportunities. 

We want those who hold us accountable to be our own communities rather than a higher body.

We are working towards building the kind of society we dream of living in, and to do this, we have to start with unapologetically shaping our project exactly as we need it to be. We operate based on what people ask for and need not how we are told by authority. 

We want a space where instead of ticking boxes and filling in forms we connect with each other in ways that work. A space where we can allow for mistakes and know there is always more to learn. A space where we acknowledge privilege and power and look at what to do with it. A space where instead of having to prove our vulnerability, our needs or our trauma to access support we are trusted unconditionally that we know best. A space where we don’t have to answer to funders or have them control our collective projects. A space where we have respect and trust for each other’s expertise in our own needs. 

A space for our projects to be free, joyous and alive.

If you think we should be able to have spaces like this and support us in what we do, please donate to our gofundme to keep us going. We rely on individual donations to run our project.

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Statement

This week along-side the amazing support and solidarity we have received, that we are so grateful for, we have also come up against some questions that we think are important to address openly and fully here. Hopefully this will mean people can have a clearer understanding of where we are coming from. 

We have been challenged on our credibility and credentials to be running our workshops and courses, asked why we are charging for our courses, told that £40 is too much money for our four-day men’s learning course, and questioned over the suitability of imagery used in our marketing. 

Credibility:

We understand that because of the society we live in, we judge each other based on officially verified credentials, academic education, awards and conventional professional backgrounds. While there is some merit to this, it isn’t always an accurate way to assess someone’s suitability for the role and excludes huge demographics who have not been able to access specific platforms to meet these requirements, but who have other experience, skills and abilities that make them even more appropriate to the role. Lived experience, alternative education, self-learning and experience and skills gathered from other types of work (such as campaigns, mutual support, community work and activism) are hugely undervalued.

We don’t believe people should be measured simply on professional experience, academic education and qualifications or awards. We believe there needs to be more space given to and more value placed on lived experience.

We both do happen to have professional backgrounds, qualifications and awards but we do not lead with this information when presenting our work. We collectively have over 19 years’ experience working within human rights, women’s services and survivor charities. You can find out more about this here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryony-and-meg-rrp-59048369/.

However, our work now is actually shaped from lived experience not from professional development so we don’t want our credibility to be measured by our previous careers. This is why we don’t readily promote our credentials in all our material. We stepped away from this sector for a reason. We think different systems and structures are needed. 

We want to normalise recognising the value of lived experience and judging ability on individually developed skills and knowledge, rather than only looking at mainstream professions and conventional achievements. 

Charging for courses, training and workshops:

Charging for a course is standard practice. 

This is an incredibly low price for a four-week course and is only a fraction of its value. We chose this low price to encourage as many men as possible to sign up. 

We shouldn’t expect women to work for free, particularly when educating men on the impact of male violence, on us. Even though we are not paying ourselves yet (we have been working entirely unpaid for over a year, as our project is self-funded), we will be in the future and we aim for course fees and training fees to cover some of those costs when viable. We should be paying ourselves at least the wage we received in our previous professional careers. 

We need to normalise placing actual value on survivor’s expertise and time working in any job where their lived experience is of real use and value to their role. 

It is our aim to pay all survivors involved in RPP; too often survivors working in survivor services are tokenised and not paid for their time. This is not OK and we want to set the standard we expect to see. 

Regardless of the above, money from our current courses goes to RRP and in particular the Resilience Fund, a fund for all survivors of rape and sexual violence who can’t afford to meet their self-care needs. We have been running this fund for over a year and supported many survivors to access things they need in their recovery. 

Imagery:

We deliberately choose not to have traditional professional looking shots within most of our work as we want to see more people being able to present authentically in their field of work and not have to fit in to a particular narrative or ‘look’ to be perceived as worthy.

We understand that people are used to seeing very specific imagery around rape and sexual violence, male violence and domestic abuse. 

We have purposefully created imagery within our work that challenges the representation of survivors/victims, of women and of male violence. 

We relentlessly see imagery in the media and in the charity sector that depicts a very one-dimensional view; victims/survivors/vulnerable women are seen as weak, broken and dehumanised. We are often reduced to faceless figures, silhouettes, shadows or body parts. 

This causes deep problems in how others (and ourselves) view our identity. Not being represented as human, as normal people with a range of emotions, creates a huge separation and detachment to us. We are an outsider, we are othered. 

Our identity is entirely that of a vulnerable victim. We are reduced to our experience, our trauma. This is not helpful to our recovery or our perception of trauma or the impacts of violence and abuse. People are not only uncomfortable with survivors/victims looking and presenting as powerful, capable, multifaceted individuals but it leads to us not being believed or seen as valid if we do not fit in with this stereotype. Perpetrators are also depicted as violent men with their fist clenched towering over a woman. The narratives we are fed so often differ from what situations really look like and that is a problem.

Within the charity sector we need to be seen as incapable and vulnerable so that we can be ‘rescued’. People want to save, so we need to look like we need ‘saving’.

This type of imagery exists because we live in a society where people need to ‘deserve’ support and help and we determine what deservability looks like; innocent weak female victims and violent bad male perpetrators

This also plays into the criminal justice system and how survivors need to be seen as ‘the perfect victim’ to be believed. 

We choose to show alternative images that are more human and show ourselves authentically and in ways we are rarely portrayed in survivor spaces, to offer an alternative and more honest narrative. 

New Workshop: Joy and how to stay stable in an unstable world

Looking for a different kind of Xmas gift this year? Buy something different for yourself or a friend: our workshop ‘Joy and how to stay stable in an unstable world’ is the perfect gift for the mess that is 2020.

Buy here

Through ideas, conversations and writing exercises this workshop will explore how to make space for more joy.

We will look at staying stable in an unstable world, making space to celebrate ourselves and understanding what we really want by unlearning societies (and our own internal) expectations.

Start 2020 with new ways to celebrate yourself and reimagine your world.

Bring: pens, paper, self

This workshop is for anybody!

After the workshop you will be emailed a mini journal/workbook to give you further ideas!

Buy here

*For anyone who likes the sound of this but can’t afford it please email us at theradicalresilienceproject@gmail.com saying ‘I’m in’ and if we have enough people interested we will run a second one without charge.

T-Shirts to buy!

Looking for a unique Xmas gift this year? Buy one of our t-shirts and support the Radical Resilience Fund (and promote breaking stereotypes and stigma around mental health and recovery). £20 each (plus £3 p&p if not Bristol based) Either DM us on instagram or email us at theradicalresiliencefund@gmail.com. You can choose colour and size options.

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Recovery shouldn’t be a luxury: Hidden classism in the well-being world

By Bryony Jade Ball, co-founder of The Radical Resilience Project

First Published in Issue 5 of “Lumpen: A Journal for Poor and Working Class Writers”

As survivors of rape and sexual violence from working-class backgrounds, support for our trauma recovery was limited. Access to resources to help healing was minimal and any financial support, including applying for incapacity/disability benefits due to trauma, was complicated, long-winded and incredibly stressful. Any free counselling services had such long waiting lists and the support was both conditional and temporary. The services providing this support were also controlled by the middle class. Building a solid support network and accessing necessary mental health assistance is just not possible for survivors without money. Trying to make ends meet is hard enough, so self-care is not always something that we can easily achieve.

Recovery has somehow become a luxury that only a privileged few can engage in.

Having been let down by the systems in place and having worked within support services ourselves, we saw the absolute necessity for an alternative space for survivors to be able to build resilience and recover from trauma authentically. We set up the radical resilience project for survivors of rape and sexual violence to have autonomy, challenge harmful stereotypes, own our healing and claim back our space.

It started as a fund where survivors could take out mini grants or loans for things to help with their healing processes but is now growing to include mutual support, education and consultancy. The fund remains central to our work.

One of the things we found growing up working class and broke is that middle-class people don’t understand how difficult it is to find money to support self-care and healing. Simple things like buying some healthy food, a herbal tincture, a record, a takeaway, some moisturiser, a new pillow or a yoga class are all a complete luxury. But small things like these can have a massive difference to our day or even a whole week and the importance of being kind to ourselves and giving ourselves pleasurable gifts – particularly through trauma – is undervalued.

What people with money often don’t understand is that every penny counts, it isn’t just a saying for us. Finding a spare fiver is impossible when you don’t know how you are going to cover rent and know you have nobody you can borrow from – as people around you are all in similar positions.

Being able to have an extra £5/£10/£15 to buy something small you need, even if it is just phone credit or a magazine, is something that is so important when you suffer mental health issues.

Recovery and healing from trauma are costly and completely unaffordable for people in our position. Even when counselling services, therapists or holistic centres do ‘concessional rates’ it is usually just £5 off the original cost and doesn’t address the issue that finding any money (especially over £10) for anything outside ‘essential living costs’ is extremely difficult. On average a counselling session costs around £40 – £60 a week (alternative therapies can be way more) and concessional rates are rarely below £25. This is simply something many people cannot afford. Yes, it is cheaper but we still don’t have that to spare. This failure to appreciate what affordability is for the working classes is rooted in the skewed perception of wealth inequality of the middle and owning classes. In their ways of analysing what ‘low income’ and ‘real poverty’ means, we are seen to have more expendable income than we do..

The services that are available for free or subsidised are mainly snapped up by the middle classes because they have time to look for and apply for them. They know how to game the systems because they or people like them essentially created them and they know how to use the right language to gain access. Waiting lists for free trauma counselling can be up to 2 years.

If we can manage it we usually have to go through the uncomfortable process of ‘proving’ our poverty to be able to access the concessional rate. Proof can include bank statements, earnings, financial living costs broken down, concession forms and benefit letters. This is uncomfortable and often humiliating as there is immediately a distrust from the support giver around our lack of money. It creates uneven, unhealthy power dynamics from the start, where we are inferior and have to prove our worthiness. It is a forced vulnerability that we should not have to have put up with – particularly when already dealing with trauma.

When applying for financial support such as grants and loans of any kind, we are also subjected to these same painful processes of measuring our worth and finances in order to access even the smallest financial support.

This is why in setting up our fund we were adamant that it was built on trust, solidarity and mutual support rather than charity. Our form to access mini grants and loans only has six questions and only two are actually required: your PayPal account (or if you don’t have PayPal, the PayPal of someone who can receive the money for you) and the amount you’re requesting. The process is based on self-identification and autonomy. We don’t control who accesses the fund, what they do with the money after they receive it or ask for any kind of reporting or feedback. Mini loans are repayable whenever people are able with the understanding that if it is not possible to pay back, that is totally ok and there is no expectation or judgement. We don’t keep data or information on anyone and people are welcome to apply more than once.

At the moment we are only offering tiny grants and loans of up to £15 but we hope to offer larger amounts once we find more sustainable incomes. Unfortunately, major funding sources and sponsorship options are centred around proving impact, evaluating outcomes and controlling how money is used. These systems further oppress working class folk rather than support us. This is why we are independently funded and reject official charity and organisation structures.

When we explain how we operate one of the first things we are always asked is “How do you know people are telling the truth and that it is definitely real survivors applying?”. Again, this shows what immediate distrust people have (particularly privileged people) of those who are asking for help. The underlying thought is, are they worthy and are they deserving? Yes, maybe some people will apply who aren’t ‘survivors’ and might not seem like they ‘need’ the money but we are not here to judge or control who does or doesn’t need support. It is up to individuals to decide for themselves.

We are not a charity; we are a community and a movement – responsibility for distribution is shared by all, not owned by a privileged few.

There is more to this project than just money. The support services that offer free counselling, support groups or various therapies are usually set up by people with middle-class, white, able-bodied, cisgender, heterosexual privilege, a saviour complex and a superior attitude. Even if we jump through all the hoops to access support or resources there are often many layers of problems.

Services are delivered inappropriately, with no real understanding of our experiences or needs.

A new part of our project is the mutual survivors support collective which is a response to the lack of appropriate one-to-one support available for survivors. We link survivors or people who have experienced rape or sexual violence with each other to co-support each other in a way that we choose individually with our co-supporter. We want to dismantle the idea that all care and support should be led or controlled by a superior. We need choices, agency, freedom and trust.

Another problem we have found with charities and support for ‘vulnerable people’ within them, is how privileged people approach giving. Christmas is a great example as many rush to donate things to those who are worse off than them. What is uncomfortable about this – other than the fact the compassion and kindness seems limited to the festive period – is that the actual items people donate are distasteful. They reek of charity. I used to work in a safe house and one Christmas a very wealthy company donated shoeboxes of gifts for the survivors. A couple of days before Christmas I opened them to check what was inside before putting them out. Wrapped up was a biro, a Tesco Value notebook, soap, a toothbrush and hand sanitiser, a £99p hairbrush with the tag still on and a sachet of cheap hot chocolate. I was disgusted. Particularly as many of these gifts were basic cleaning products and the women who were going to receive them were survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking. It was implying they were dirty – hand sanitiser for xmas really? (This was pre-Corona.) What this rich company was actually saying is “This is your worth”. I imagined what presents the people who had wrapped these had bought their families and what their Christmas day might look like. I imagined them patting themselves on the back after they had packed up these shitty gifts that they would never dream of giving to anyone they actually knew.

It’s similar at homeless shelters when rich people donate food parcels of supermarket basic cans and cheap food they would never even feed their pets, while enjoying Waitrose organic range at home themselves. We are supposed to be grateful for what we get, but these kinds of gifts come loaded with supremacy. Unfortunately, this kind of giving is not uncommon.

People with the most oppression and least privileges are used to being given second-rate things. Survivors in safe-houses often get donated awful second-hand clothes (stained, broken, baggy or just grim), badly knitted hats and gloves all in one style – as if we don’t even have taste or need choice because we are at the bottom of the ladder. What people donate says a lot about how they see us.

Not being able to afford to treat yourself is bad enough but when you are given ‘treats’ that are worthless and shitty you feel worthless and shitty. It does nothing for building up self-respect and resilience when you are feeling vulnerable.

When we started the Radical Resilience Project one of the things we wanted to include beside the fund was real gifts and treats for survivors. Things that can bring pleasure and excitement – because we need this for recovery as well as meeting our basic needs. We very deliberately looked at asking specific businesses to donate the very best. That is what we all deserve. We got things like gift vouchers for award winning hairdressers, festival tickets, a cookery school course, bottomless champagne brunches, a series of resources on sexual pleasure, vouchers for meals and drinks at top restaurants, pole dancing classes, tickets for cinemas, a women’s herbal medicine course, yoga classes and independent film subscriptions. Gifts should be joyful. Something of real value that makes us know our worth!

Recovery from trauma is hard and slow. We need finances to support our basic needs, we need access to counselling, therapeutic support, holistic therapies, knowledge around natural healthcare and we need real treats.

Even when we try to access these things the holistic world is dominated by middle-class, privileged people. Things like healing centres, herbal medicine, natural remedies and self-care support have become lucrative corporate commodities constructed for middle-class, able-bodied, white, cisgender, heterosexual people. This is ironic considering many of these practices and traditions were originally birthed from Black, Indigenous and People of colour, people without money, and outside the capitalist society. Now the most oppressed people can’t afford to be part of this world. When we can find a way in, it is a very uncomfortable space to be in as we feel like outsiders when most of us are not represented.

Because we have been made to feel like we don’t belong in these types of spaces, and because systems of access to healthcare force us to prove our worth repeatedly, many of us now feel undeserving of support. We discovered this early on in our project – it was incredibly difficult for people to feel able to take out mini grants or claim gifts as they don’t feel worthy enough. People we speak to always say “I don’t feel I deserve it” or “Someone else deserves it more than me”. This illustrates just how dangerous the conditions of our healthcare systems are. People have learned to measure their worth and needs in an extremely toxic way. For example, as survivors our worth is often based on being seen to behave in a way that society expects us to (show signs of suffering, trauma and fear) and to do what society thinks we should do (report to the police, accept support that we are offered that might not be right for us) and to visibly appear vulnerable and to be worthy of support.

We are trying to challenge this attitude of unworthiness within our project but are still unlearning it ourselves as it is hard-wired. In the meantime, to make our project more accessible we have created an option where people can nominate each other for a mini grant or gift..

While our project is tiny and still just at the beginning, we are hoping to radically shift the way people understand recovery and healing. Recovery and self-care is a human right and shouldn’t be a luxury. The Radical Resilience Project is about creating open spaces where we unlearn what we have been conditioned to believe that we deserve and what the ‘right’ way to heal is. A space where building resilience is not a privilege but a right.

To access the fund and mutual support or get in touch, go to www.theradicalresilienceproject.org. We are also on instagram @the_radical_resilience_project. We are independently funded so any financial support literally keeps this project possible – to donate you can use Paypal (theresiliencefunduk@gmail.com).

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Sex, sexual pleasure, erotica and survivorship


As survivors and people who have experienced rape and sexual assault there is a huge taboo and uncomfortability when we talk about sex, sexual liberation, sexual objectification, erotica and kink. 
This uncomfortability often comes not from us, but from others’ misconceptions of rape and sexual violence. 
 
In the criminal justice system, to be seen as a ‘credible victim’ – particularly for women – you shouldn’t enjoy sex, have a lot of sex, engage in kink or erotica of any kind as it is used against you and your case. In basic terms the court assumes if you are a sexual person you were probably “asking for it”.
 
This attitude is particularly dangerous as it links sex and rape as if they are in the same category. Rape is sexualised violence forced on someone with violence without their consent. Sex is consenting people enjoying pleasure together. The difference is critical. If someone was murdered with a kitchen knife you wouldn’t say “was it murder or was it just cooking?” and you wouldn’t bring up their whole culinary past and say “well, they were in the kitchen when it happened and they did really like cooking, I think they were even a chef at one point, maybe they encouraged it”. 
 
There is so much stigma and shame about sexual pleasure as survivors. The sooner we start to differentiate clearly between rape and sex, the sooner we can move on from victim blaming and survivor stereotyping to address the real problems. 
 
We should focus on consent (rather than links between rape and sex) to start to dismantle the assumptions about what a survivor should look like and how we should behave.
 
Even within support services sex, sexuality and kink is not a topic that is spoken about positively and is avoided in support groups. It is often assumed many of us will not want sex or feel sexual after rape. Although this can unquestionably be true for some, many – ourselves included – feel that sex is so opposite to rape that having consensual, exciting, loving sex is not triggering at all and in fact is an incredibly important part of healing and building resilience. For us it is the stereotypes and associations of the two being linked by the criminal justice system, within our language, within the media and support services that has created these dangerous ideas and attitudes around rape survivors and how we view our sex lives. 
 
We need to normalise the idea that survivors (and everyone) can enjoy sex, pleasure, erotica and kink, can be sex workers and strippers, can enjoy having lots of sex with multiple partners, can have casual sex or sex with their partner and can enjoy porn or work in porn. We can also be asexual or not want sex and it have nothing to do with our trauma. We are not suggesting that nobody experiences triggers through sex after rape, but we need to start showing that it is also possible and normal not to. At the moment the narrative is that of a “broken” survivor who shouldn’t want to have sex and the “perfect victim” by society’s standards is someone who previously didn’t engage in any sex or enjoy it even with their partner/s!
 
There is also a lot of misplaced blame and misconceptions that comes from women’s organisations and feminist groups who feel sexual objectification of women, porn and sex work is wrong. We both used to share this view when we were younger. We believed women were harmed through images of women as sexual objects, through how women are represented within porn and through how women are expected to perform within sex work. 
 
While sexism, gender inequality and gender-based violence is still ingrained in our society, we need to start looking at the bigger picture. It is too narrow minded to just think that it is simply porn, objectification and sex work that is wrong. It is not the platform that is wrong but instead how it is used. What we need to look at is whether or not full consent exists within these dynamics and within these structures, not blame the platform or medium it exists within. 
 
Porn is simply an erotic art form and it is because it has been misused people see it as harmful. Erotic media in all forms, when everyone involved is consenting and happy it is an exciting and pleasurable space and we should be trying to shift the focus to consent and ethics rather than just trying to shut it down. 
 
Sex work is work and is not the same as trafficking. Sex work is a choice, trafficking and sexual exploitation is forced. If people are consenting, safe and choose to be doing sex work, we should be  fully supporting that choice. Many women and survivors choose this work and want to do this work and we need to support these decisions by supporting sex workers’ rights and fighting for the environment so that everyone is able to work safely.
 
Sexual objectification has been used negatively, the media uses women’s bodies dishonestly and inappropriately to sell things or create harmful stereotypes. Women have also been coerced into creating imagery they don’t agree with. This is clearly not ok. However, sexual objectification can be liberating too; to be able to strip everything back and view someone just as an object of pleasure and desire just for that moment and to have that focus on just the sensual and erotic – whether in the bedroom or in a photo or video – can be healthy and exciting as long as we all have control and choice. Many women want to authentically sexually objectify themselves, be objectified or objectify a consenting partner and we should support that as long as power dynamics are understood and everybody is consenting with freedom and joy.
 
Sex and sexual liberation is powerful. We should be allowed to objectify ourselves and each other if we want, allowed to have kinks, allowed to sell sex. We should be able to wear what we want and it not be used against us if someone attacks us with sexual assault or rape. 
 
So many of us love sex, kink and exploring sex and sexuality freely and we shouldn’t be judged for that, particularly as female survivors. We all should be able to talk about it without making others feel uncomfortable. We want to create environments where nobody feels uncomfortable because female pleasure and sexual desires are finally normalised.
 
We want to live in a society where we women and survivors are not labelled slags, hoes, slappers and whores (negatively) for enjoying sex – titles we have begun to love and reclaim – but are accepted and celebrated. Let’s frame the conversation into one where consent is the basic starting point.
 
We want to create a society where we are respected for our choices, consent is sexy, our boundaries are heard and where the erotic world is exciting, safe, beautiful and delicious.  


 
 
 

The disobedient survivor talks

How support services expect us to heal vs how we actually heal

Decolonise and dismantle survivor support structures!

Survivor support services promote dangerous ideas of linear healing and recovery throughout their services. They are pressured by funders and governing bodies to meet targets, prove improvements and show measurable recovery.
Not only are these expectations unrealistic, they also feed harmful westernised ideas of mental health and trauma. Their methods of diagnosing and supporting trauma fails survivors and does not reflect our individual needs.

Healing is not linear. Healing is not quantifiable. Healing is not a diagram. Healing is complex, unique and messy. It is also human. It is about learning to be ok with all feelings, good and difficult. It is not something that can be reduced to a diagram or fit into categories.

While becoming aware of our emotions and process is important in healing, it is damaging us the way survivor services pressure us into measuring our trauma and monitoring and evaluating our recovery in a way that fits the narrative they want. Because they need case studies, positive outcomes and specific results for their impact reports they control the way we asses and record our healing.
We need to challenge this deep set structural norm that makes us feel that we have to improve our mental health at the speed services control and the way services expect.
Instead let’s ask each other questions and create space and trust within healing to find our own pace and path in the ways that are right for us. 💞✨💞✨💞✨💞✨

Note to survivor services: we invite you to start an open dialogue with us. Please get in touch to connect. There will be more about this soon.

Response to JK Rowling

We as survivors stand with our sisters not just our cis-ters!

As survivors we feel it is imperative to make a statement in response to JK Rowling’s toxic views on trans and gender non conforming people (specifically seeing trans women as a threat and not accepting the identities and experiences of the non binary community).

It is violent to speak about cis women’s safety and experiences as survivors of rape, sexual assault or domestic abuse in order to further a dangerous agenda. 

Trans women are women. THIS IS NOT A DEBATE. You do not get to debate someone’s identity or existence. If you do not see this, then you need to do some work. Read. Your fear is because of dangerous myths and untrue ideas that are embedded within our society claiming that trans women are not women and therefore dangerous. This is irrational. This is a belief you have to challenge.

If you had a child and they were afraid of something that wasn’t true, you would support them to challenge that view so that they felt safe rather than perpetuate their unfounded fear.

Of course your safety is important. Nobody is arguing it’s not. BUT it is not trans women that are your threat. We are ALL living in a society that makes us unsafe, however trans women are in far more danger and experience more stigma and abuse than we cis women can possibly imagine. You are putting their lives at risk by perpetuating the idea that they are not “real women”. This is furthering the divide within our community and movement against violence towards womxn and the bigger forces that are in play; capitalist patriarchy.  We have to be very careful not to weaponise our trauma in order to devalue or disregard someone else’s.

Through coming out as a survivor with the platform that you have JK Rowling, you are silencing all those that aren’t survivors to be able to challenge your harmful views and encouraging other survivors to irrationally fear trans women.

We as survivors understand what feeling unsafe is like, we understand what violence and abuse towards us because of our gender and identity is like. We have more tools than most to empathise. We need to stand up for trans women not against them. We share some of the same oppressions and are oppressed by some of the same groups. You are consciously making the active decision to be an oppressor in the same way patriarchy oppresses us all.

SURVIVORS WE NEED TO STAND UP AGAINST THIS HATE! Safe spaces are for people that need safety and protection. We need to mutually support each other to ensure ALL our safety. Stand with all trans folk. Stand against violence to all womxn. #Survivorsstandwithtranswomen.

How support services see us vs reality