“The first principle of recovery is empowerment of the survivor. He or she must be the author and arbiter of their own recovery. Others may offer advice, support, assistance, affection and care, but not cure. Many benevolent and well-intentioned attempts to assist the survivor flounder because this basic principle of empowerment is not observed. No intervention that takes power away from the survivor can possibly foster recovery, no matter how much it appears to be in his or her immediate best interest”.
Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery
Survivors Voices is run by and for adult survivors of abuse, inter-personal trauma and violence and those who support them. We are a small organisation with a big vision. We long for a society where adult survivors of abuse and inter-personal trauma feel able to voice their stories without shame, be heard and acknowledged and receive support and skilled help needed to thrive after trauma. We imagine a society where professionals act with keen awareness of power dynamics so that any ‘helping relationships’ are empowering to survivors, helping rather than hindering recovery.
Our vision is to foster a ‘survivor-safe, survivor-sensitive, survivor-empowering’ approach in society in general, to create cultures where abuse and trauma can be discussed and acknowledged rather than hidden due to shame, denial and guilt. In particular, we want to test, research and provide training in ways of embedding ‘survivor-safe, survivor-sensitive, survivor-empowering’ approaches in any organisations that interact with survivors or create knowledge, research and policies affecting survivors. This includes GP’s, hospitals, social care, mental health teams, police, education establishments, voluntary sector projects, religious organisations, universities, media, third sector and government policy departments. We believe that embedding a ‘survivor-safe, survivor-sensitive, survivor-empowering’ approach in our culture, social policy and in services will increase the effectiveness of such services and support abuse prevention and trauma recovery.
We aim to champion the voice of survivors in research, public policy and practice and to encourage safe and enlightened self-help, ‘psychoeducation’ and peer support. All our activities fall within three strands of work:
Survivor-led research and policy work to address the need for survivor’s voices in academic research, public policy and practice and to create psychoeducation materials to guide survivors in making informed choices about their own recovery.
Survivor-led training and consultancy to help organisations and professionals develop and deliver trauma-informed and survivor-sensitive services.
Survivor-led creative projects, self-help and peer-led initiatives to support survivors, including our bi-annual self-help gathering, our private online peer-support group and initiatives such as exploring the role of creative expression and spirituality in trauma recovery.
Our organisation, formerly known as S:VOX (Survivors Voices), is part of Reshapers Community Interest Company, a not-for-profit social enterprise. We have over 16 years experience of running survivor-led activities including self-help groups, residential weekends, creative expression events, researching and producing materials, sitting on advisory panels, running training for professionals and survivors and providing informal advocacy on reporting abuse (see Our History).
We understand that different forms of abuse can all have a deep and long-lasting effect on us as children and adults and that harmful experience can include profound neglect and bullying; emotional, physical, sexual and spiritual abuses; ritualised and organised abuse; having to observe violence and live under coercive control. These experiences can occur in a variety of social settings including families, schools and communities and can be broader such as experiences of war, human trafficking, political violence and oppression. We recognise that both individual incidents and prolonged exposure to abusive or self-negating environments can cause trauma, particularly when such experiences occur within significant relationships.
We use the term ‘survivor’ as a shorthand for individuals who have lived through such experiences but recognise that people may use and feel comfortable with different terms to describe their experiences. We welcome all to browse our site and connect with us and encourage volunteers to join our committed team (full vetting and training undertaken). If you share our vision, get in touch!
“I really believe you helped save my life. I was having a really bad day, lost and without hope of ever telling anyone about my abuse and really considering killing myself because I could bear the burden no longer. I came across your group and couldn’t even say my name but you did more for me that you will ever know – you gave me hope”.