As I’ve been working on #SurvivorPhotoSeries’ book (which is coming out in spring 2020 from Arkay Artists), I’ve been thinking a lot about personal and collective accountability, ethics, personal justice (when legal justice isn’t possible), and how healing is both collective and personal. Healing is magic and language and art are forms of spells and rituals that help us channel our energy into connective, restorative healing ways.
As I take notes for the forward (because I want it to be as eloquent as possible), my mind swirls in all of these things. There is so much to say and discuss, and breaking the toxic ways we even talk about trauma - and silence others both intentionally and unintentionally (especially in regards to gender and sexuality). This work can feel overwhelming. But this is important work for all of us to do cosmically and personally.
I thank everyone who has been there for me on this journey - and thought to compile a list of ways and reminders for us all to be better allies and advocates for each other and ourselves, regardless of the type of trauma we are facing (because trauma is trauma and pain is pain, regardless of if it stems from assault, addiction, illness, domestic violence, verbal abuse, etc).
Advocacy is doing the wrong thing and learning from it.
Activism is teaching those outside of the community, whereas advocacy is helping those within it.
No one is a perfect advocate and that is OK. We need to give each other space to make mistakes - and take accountability for them.
Sharing stories is a way for survivors to take their power back. This, however, doesn’t mean they need to share specific details, nor should we ask them for details.
Don’t ask for details unless prompted. It’s more important to offer a supportive shoulder.
Be conscious of the language you use around trauma, whether it’s genderized or unintentionally blaming.
There is no “one-size fits all” kind of abuse or abuser. Abuse can happen to anyone and anyone can be an abuser.
Abuse is abuse regardless of gender or sexuality or age.
Don’t try to analyze why someone was abused to see if the abuse was “valid” or abuse at all. Understanding abuse is important to prevent it, but be careful of blaming someone for the situation or incident that happened to them.
Don’t create stereotypes of survivors or perpetrators. Don’t put people in a box.
Survivors aren’t numbers or statistics, but real people with complicated emotions and lives.
Trauma doesn’t take on someone’s identity. It’s just part of someone’s experiences.
We need to understand why misuse of power happens and how abuse begins and what it looks like to help prevent it - and find the right healing process for survivors.
Gatekeeping in the advocacy community happens, but we can be aware of this so we can stop it from silencing people or becoming a performance.
Inclusivity is necessary to helping survivors heal.
Listen. It’s the best way to be an ally.
Showing up makes a difference. Just being there for someone makes a huge impact.
Ask yourself and others: What does it mean to feel safe, to have justice? What is personal justice for you? What do you need to feel safe?
Be conscious of who is in the room when you are talking about trauma.
Honor yourself. How do you need support as an ally or advocate or survivor?
Support isn’t a competition.