Our Vision

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The first principle of recovery is empowerment of the survivor. 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 a small, national peer-led organisation run by and for adult survivors of abuse and inter-personal trauma* and those who support them.

jpeg(1)We exist to untap the expertise of people affected by abuse in order to change society’s response to trauma.

 

We aim to carry out our vision…

jpeg(2)…by gathering people with experience of abuse, and their supporters/allies, in order to listen, share, support and understand. We do this through our bi-annual peer-support gatherings, our online forum, our mailings, networking and other events.

 

jpeg(4)…by untapping the expertise of survivors to understand what is wrong and how things can be better in how society responds to the trauma of abuse. We do this through unique, survivor-led and co-produced research (eg. with universities, professional groups) leading to development of good practice guidelines, training standards and materials, articles, papers and publications.

 

jpeg(3)…by championing the expertise of survivors in order to foster survivor-safe-survivor-empowering environments and trauma-aware-trauma-competent practices. We do this through training professionals and communities; disseminating information on abuse, recovery and how to engage, work with and support survivors; good practice guidance for working in a variety of settings; and by encouraging  safe, enlightened self-help, peer support and creative community responses by and for survivors.

 

The power of turning our traumatic experiences into something that creates good in the world is central to our existence. We seek individuals, organisations and professional training bodies who will work collaboratively with us, hear us, learn from our expertise and stand alongside us as we seek to transform society’s response to abuse and trauma. If you share our vision, please get in touch.

 

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At Survivors’ Voices, we talk about our need for survivor-safe-survivor-empowering environments and trauma-aware-trauma-competent practices. The need for change is not only urgent (too many of us are experiencing the opposite), it is also universal across every area of life – from our medical and social care systems; our clinical and therapeutic practices; our legal, educational and workplace processes and environments; to the way we respond to abuse survivors in our midst as communities, cultural, sporting and religious institutions, right through to the interpersonal responses of friends, families and colleagues.  From our nearly two decades of conversations with adult survivors, we can say with certainty that the experience at all these different levels is often one of incompetence, denial, being shut down, turned away from, blamed, pathologised and disempowered – trauma piled upon trauma. We ALL have much work to do to foster survivor-safe-survivor-empowering environments in our organisations and in our communities and to develop trauma-aware-trauma-competent practices within professional helping relationships.

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What is your part to play?

 

We are in a moment of time when things are changing – our society is more open to discussing the experience of abuse, neglect and interpersonal trauma in its many forms.*  Due to the prevalence of abuse, almost everyone will know a survivor whether they know it or not! And many people are in positions of responsibility – how you do your job and run your projects, events and organisations can deeply impact survivors – either retraumatizing them or helping them in their journey of recovery. It requires acts of the imagination to picture the steps we can all take towards this new way of doing things that not only helps those suffering now (and there is much silent and not so silent suffering) but also changes things for future generations. If you are trying to work out your part in this, the following acts of imagination may help:

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Let us imagine a society where all of us as individuals, as well as our cultural, religious and community organisations, acknowledge survivors in our midst and work towards understanding the impact of abuse and how  to at least be safe, supportive and empowering  – be that as friends, family, colleagues or people we serve in a professional capacity.

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Let us imagine a society where professionals (doctors, counsellors, psychotherapists, health and wellbeing practitioners, employers, teachers, lawyers, police…) take seriously their need to not only be survivor-safe and empowering but to get trauma-aware (understanding the impact of trauma on health, behaviour and relationships) and trauma-competent (knowing how to support abuse and trauma survivors in their journey of recovery) in whatever way is appropriate in their particular role and setting.

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Let us imagine organisations and professional bodies that are structured, funded and trained to enable many possibilities for survivor support & recovery (including therapy, advocacy & legal services, community-based, creative and peer-led programs). Particularly, that a variety of therapeutic and trauma-informed interventions become more readily available and offered in a way that is deeply attentive to the need for empowerment, care and connection by people competent to work with the after-effects of trauma, abuse and neglect.

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Let us imagine commissioners, funders and those involved in research, policy and professional practice taking seriously the need to resource  – plan, pilot and fund –  necessary changes and new ways of doing things.

 

Lastly, and most importantly, let us imagine all the above changes taking place with survivors themselves at the centre of the conversation about what changes are needed. Our many years of experience as an organisation have shown us that while our individual experiences are unique, the common threads that emerge when we survivors talk together are glaring. We know what is going wrong in society’s response to the trauma of abuse and we have many suggestions of how to make things better. By putting survivors at the centre of the conversation about change, we increase the possibility of effective support and recovery for survivors, helping to diminish the silent suffering that many of us live with and break the legacy of abuse for the future. What is your part to play?

 

The power of turning our traumatic experiences into something that creates good in the world is central to our existence. We seek individuals, organisations and professional training bodies who will work collaboratively with us, hear us, learn from our expertise and stand alongside us as we seek to transform society’s response to abuse and trauma. If you share our vision, please get in touch.

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*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, particularly in early years; 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 and/or self-negating environments can cause profound trauma, particularly when such experiences occur within significant relationships. We do not believe there is a ‘hierarchy of abuse’ with regards to the impact it can have on individuals as this will vary from person to person depending on the severity of the trauma, the attachment to the perpetrator(s), the vulnerability and resources of the person experiencing it and the ability of the society around the person to acknowledge and respond to the trauma appropriately and with support.

 

The term ‘survivor’ developed to signify people moving away from being passive ‘victims’ of abuse to overcomers of their experiences. We follow common practice and use it as a shorthand for people who have experienced abuse and interpersonal trauma whilst recognising that many people with such experiences have either not heard of the term survivor or may not want to describe themselves as having been ‘abused’ or being a ‘survivor’ for many complex and valid reasons. As such, we will often interchange the term ‘survivor’ with ‘people who have experienced abuse or interpersonal trauma’. 

 

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“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”.

 

 

Our organisation, (formerly known as S:VOX: Survivors Voices), is part of a parent company Reshapers Community Interest Company, a not-for-profit social enterprise. We have nearly two decades of experience 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). .