Fuck filling out monitoring and evaluation forms, fuck being asked leading questions on feedback forms, fuck numbering from 1-10 my improvement and recovery from trauma each week, fuck being made into a case study, fuck being told I can’t use my real name when sharing my experience, fuck seeing my identity on leaflets as a shadow or pair of hands covering a face, fuck being told what I can and can’t say and limiting what I can talk about in support groups, fuck being told what will trigger me, fuck being told what coping strategies are healthy and unhealthy, fuck being given a time limit to heal, fuck 2 year waiting lists, fuck having to report to get certain support, fuck being given false information about the reality of reporting, fuck you taking case notes about me, fuck having to show up every week or be threatened with support being dropped, fuck your sterile boundaries, fuck your corporate and patronising language, fuck not employing survivors, fuck not paying survivors for our time and energy when you need it for your promo, fuck the lack of specialist support in your services (e.g. support for disabled survivors, trans survivors, survivors of colour, refugee survivors, queer survivors, working class survivors etc.), fuck your inability to adapt, change or actually listen to what survivors need, fuck your shitty biscuits and weak-ass tea, fuck your ridiculous support plans, fuck you risk managing our lives and micro managing our safety, fuck overworking and underpaying your staff, fuck valuing education and training over lived experience, fuck your useless diversity policy and fuck your compliance with the establishment and lack of passion to make real change.
We are not saying all services are shit or that they shouldn’t exist. They are very much needed and vital to many of us recovering trauma. We have both had incredible support from individuals within support services and worked alongside some amazing support workers/case workers. We are not intending to devalue anyone’s positive experiences within support services and are always so happy when people receive the right support for them. We just know that many survivors feel let down and unheard within current services. This call out is to acknowledge the problems many of us have faced when using or being part of certain organisations. We need different systems, different structures, different funding and more appropriate support. We also want to acknowledge and celebrate all the amazing resilient people who are working tirelessly within these structures, trying to make a difference despite having to work within systems they don’t agree with. You are fucking great and we need you!
Treating yourself shouldn’t be a privilege! Rest and recovery shouldn’t be a luxury.
But it is.
Self love, treats and rest are so needed to build our resilience but they are not always accessible. The words self-care are thrown around or forced on people making us feel guilty when we don’t have the money, time, ability, health, access or opportunity to do the things that we would actually like or need.
Ownership is so often put on us by society and support services to self-care, which is such a cop out, because actually what we need is basic access to human rights like a working benefit system, childcare, housing, accessible healthcare, legal help and immigration support before we can even CONSIDER self-care and dealing with trauma!! We don’t all have spare money or time for self care when we have bills to pay, health problems, immigration problems, housing etc. So it is very problematic when we are told to just do a bit of mindfulness, try positive thinking or expect us to be able to fund self-care activities like so many support organisations do.
While this fund is a tiny step towards giving us all more control back as survivors… we also will be challenging the systems that are in place that have created these problems in the first place.
Privilege is not spoken about enough in organisations and that needs to change. We all need to check our privilege more and understand how it effects everything around us.
Rather than focusing on survivors individual oppressions and vulnerabilities and creating outreach programs for ‘minority groups’ or empty ‘inclusion policies’ we need to completly restructure how we operate as organisations and look at the privileges we have and power within our support structures and how that distances, isolates and excludes certain people.
Rather than focusing on why certain people aren’t ‘engaging’ with services, we need to ask why aren’t services fully ‘engaging’ with us? Why are society and services completely failing certain people and excluding us and our needs?
Our own privilege:
We acknowledge we have privelege to be able to even do this project, in many ways. We are white, cis and able bodied which immediately creates more opportunities and makes things easier for us. We are also at a stage in our recovery from trauma and lives where we have better mental health, more free time and we have found and can access ways to support ourselves enough to actually do this too, hopefully without burn out. Despite having some shit experiences with support services we still had privelege within accessing that support because of how we were treated by society and services due to our privilege. This has enabled us to get where we are now. We need to not just aknowlege this but be aware of how that allows us to operate and speak out.
We want to use our privelege in the best way possible. We also want to check our privelege regularly and we encourage you to too.
We will make mistakes, we have made many in the past and are constantly learning and trying to unlearn but we welcome being called out by anyone that feels able to – we will listen fully and not get defensive.
Privilege has an impact on all of us and we need to find ways to keep addressing the inbalances that are everywhere, especially in accessing support.
We need to remember privilege isn’t about seeing that some groups find things harder, it is knowing that WE actively make things harder and less fair for some groups. Our society is set up to benefit a select few and fail so many others. It is our collective responsibility to own this.
It is only when we are all prepared to start actually giving up power and sharing some of the privileges we are used to, to enable more equal rights and fairer access to opportunities, that we will start to see changes.
We just stocked up on our herbal first aid. We are not doctors or herbologists but as humans we have found these tinctures & woman’s tea very helpful.
Apply for a mini grant & treat yourself to a herbal tincture or some teas. 🌱🌿🍶☕
Disclaimer: We don’t think all charities are bad or that there are not good things being done by 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 big systematic change.
We are not a charity. We refuse to fit into a pre-existing structure because we see many problems with all NGO and charity organisational structures.
We have decided to be an AEP (an anti establishment project). We want to create a completely new way of organising based on humanity and unlearning.
We don’t have policies, codes of conducts, monitoring forms, evaluation forms, business plans or obvious rules and regulations, and we will fund ourselves independently.
We operate instead on trust, humanity, kindness and understanding. We aim to offer solidarity rather than help and create collective responsibility for supporting one another and a space for exchange of support and ideas rather than a service that provides support. We will learn and unlearn as we go and welcome being called out or questioned.
Why we are not a charity:
Even the connotations of the word charity, for us feel quite negative. There is a feeling that charity is giving to those inferior and there is a lot to say for problematic power dynamics within th charity sector.
Having both worked for and been supported by many charities and support providers we feel that there is a lot of dangerous aspects to a charity such as hierarchy, oppressive structures, patronising systems, poverty porn and unhelpful stereotyping of survivors, to name a few. The reasons behind charities are also very problematic such as a white saviour complex, religion, money and people generally deciding what others need (and thinking they know best), rather than asking.
The way charities are funded and have to fundraise as well as have to monitor and report on their services also leads to competition where charities compete with each other not only on who is best but on who supports the most vulnerable and most needy. This creates further innacurate and exploitative representation of survivors and our experiences.
Our identity is shaped by this which is why we are often reduced to faceless, nameless shadows or sillouettes on charity marketing.
Competition between charities and funding sources also creates an attitude of superiority, defensiveness, charities deciding they are the expert (instead of survivors) and charities always having to be seen perfoming well- not being able to admit mistakes or say when they fucked up. This is not ok and means a lot of serious mistakes are hidden rather than addressed and learned from.
Monitoring and evaluation within charities is also designed to keep us powerless, vulnerable and further victimise us. We need to be vulnerable and oppressed for funders to fund the service and for the service to run a certain way.
A lot of assumptions are made within survivor charities about our experience, our identity and our recovery. Survivors are portrayed a certain way and not given much autonomy or power. We are told ‘for our saftey’ we have to use the service a certain way -our saftey is used as an excuse to hold control within the organisation.
There needs to be something very different that moves away from how survivor organisations currently operate. A space where instead of ticking boxes and filling in forms we connect with each other and see each other. A space where we can allow for mistakes and want to learn and unlearn. A space where we acknowledge privilege and power. A space where instead of having to prove your vulnerability, your need or your trauma you’re trusted unconditionally. A space where you have control and ownership of your own support. A space where we don’t have to answer to funders. A space where we see vulnerability as powerful. A space where survivors are three dimensional beings and are allowed to have a face, a name and are allowed to have more than three emotions at any one time. A space where recovery is not only hard but can be fun. A space where humour and laughter is allowed as well as crying and pain. A space where we celebrate our breakdowns and flaws as well as our coping strategies. A space where we can explore our sexualities, love and flaunt our bodies and be sex positive. A space where we have uttermost respect and trust for each others expertise in their own healing. A space where we share support, regain our power and build our resilience in our own ways that work for us.
Let’s be good to each other, great to each other, support each other, validate each other and respect each other. Solidarity with all survivors and folks who have experienced sexual assault or abuse of any kind. Sending LOVE! ✊✊✊💛💛💛 #supportsurvivors
Cause we r allowed to rest. 🍦🍦🍦 Apply for a mini grant 2 rest & eat ice cream on the pavement 2!! #allowedtorest #treatingmyself
Cakes by @thesweetfeminist
YES YOU SHOULD APPLY to The Resilience Fund to get yourself some flowers to celebrate yourself! Do it!! 🌺🌸🌺 #resiliencefund
Look, we know you’ve missed us, and probably been refreshing our page waiting longingly for updates 👅
…. We’ve been taking some time for ourselves, resting, restoring our own resilience and having a couple of breakdowns here and there. We want to take this opportunity to say that this is how we will operate. Without apology and without guilt. We believe this is necessary as we need more projects that allow for humanity and life, and that challenge society’s fixed expectations of how things should be run. We hope to eradicate some of the guilt around taking time for yourself when being involved in projects or activism.
P.S. the fund is here, we’re waiting for you! Rest and treat yourself too! 🌺🍧🤸♀️👄✨ #restwithoutguilt #notacharity