Most of our projects combine the different strands of our work: our self-help and peer-support activities feed into research and policy work which informs our training and consultancy for organisations and professional bodies. Our research arises from our experiential activities as well as from primary research and systematic / literature reviews. Below is a description of our ongoing and planned projects.
The Survivors Voices Online Forum
We have run an online support forum for adult survivors since 2000 and now use a closed (not visible to the public) Facebook Group. The forum provides connection, support and a place to go to where survivors can feel understood by others who know the struggles of living with the aftermath of abuse. It does not provide therapy, counselling or professional advice. The Survivors Voices Online Forum has safety guidelines, a pinned post regarding trigger warnings and medium-level moderation. If you are a survivor and wish to join, please contact us.
Survivors Voices Peer-Support Gatherings
Normally in London UK, the currently bi-annual gathering has grown out of the self-help groups that ran for many years and provides a way of staying connected, sharing stories and resources, increasing knowledge and as a sounding board for developments in our work. We ask survivors to attend only if they feel able to keep themselves and others emotionally safe (eg. no alcohol, self-harming behaviours etc..). The next Survivors Voices Gathering will take place in July 2018 . Contact us for more details.
The Healing Maze
The original Healing Maze exhibition and in-house publication proved very popular in helping individuals and professionals negotiate the myriad of approaches to therapy and healing for survivors. The Healing Maze will be updated and made available in an online format. This will involve substantial research and we are fundraising and recruiting volunteer Survivor-Reviewers to help. Visit The Healing Maze page for more details.
The Survivors Voices BRAVE Research and Policy Group
We have created a Survivor-Led Research and Policy Group – the BRAVE group -which stands for “Blueprint Research and Action that Voices the Experience of Survivors”. We meet to both shape our in-house research agenda and to start influencing the world of research, social policy and professional training with survivor-led priorities, questions and perspectives. Our co-founder and Head of Research, Concetta, is also working with the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol to evaluate the role of peer-led support groups. Our first project is the Blueprint for Change, see below for details. If you are interested in being involved, please contact us for more information.
The Blueprint for Change Project
In partnership with King’s College London, and with funding from the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund, the Blueprint project is a uniquely survivor-generated and led piece of research. It gathers views of survivors regarding their experiences of help seeking: what has helped/worked / hindered/harmed them in their journeys out of abuse and towards wellbeing. It also seeks survivors’ views on what is needed and priorities for change in society’s awareness of and response to adult survivors. We used an online questionnaire, focus groups and other creative research methods in the initial stage of the research, to create “From Pain into Power”, our Charter for Organisations Engaging Abuse Survivors in Projects, Research & Service Development. This is now being piloted and we are keen to hear from any organisations interested in being involved in the pilot. Further phases of the Blueprint project will continue to gather and analyse data through our unique model of survivor-research, in order to inform practice guidelines, professional training and practice standards from a unique survivor-perspective. Please contact us for more details.
The Survivor-Activist Research Project
Judith Herman, one of the world’s foremost experts on recovery from the trauma of violence and abuse, identifies activism as a distinct aspect of recovery for many survivors. Activism by survivors takes many forms, from involvement in helping professions and research to small and larger scale projects by groups of survivors and their supporters. Indeed, many ‘declared’ and ‘undeclared’ survivors seek to use their experience to help others and to support their own recovery by restoring meaningful connections and a sense of ‘having a voice’ that was often silenced during abuse. The many positives of Survivor-Activism are counter-balanced by potential pitfalls: for professionals and academics, the need to carefully decide whether to ‘come out’ as a survivor for fear of being pathologised and judged by colleagues; for survivor groups and projects, the risk of unboundaried and unsafe dynamics if not facilitated with careful awareness and quality assurance / safeguarding mechanisms. The Survivor-Activist Research Project will seek to study various aspects of Survivor-Activism including documenting the rates of survivor involvement in academia and the helping professions and the issues raised for survivors in these roles; activism as therapy; and the role and impact of the Survivor movement on social policy and practice, particularly in the light of the Jimmy Savile and other institutional scandals and the IICSA Inquiry in the UK .
The Survivor Spirituality Project
Our experience of running many self-help groups revealed spirituality as an intertwined braid of help and hindrance to survivors, acting as both a source of hope and healing and at times the cause of pain and setbacks. For those who have a history of abuse by members of faith communities, this intertwined braid is even more complex and raises difficult issues about institutional responses to pastoral and spiritual abuse. The Survivor Spirituality Project will seek to untangle the braid and explore how spirituality in its many forms can support the journey of transformation and recovery from abuse.
The Broken Art Chronicles
Over the years, we have run 5 weekends incorporating creative expression workshops for adult survivors of abuse and trauma. These have included the use of writing, textiles, dance, drama therapy, music, visual art, creative making and mosaic. As well as using all these creative methods in workshops, we ran three particular projects : the ‘Songs for Survivors’ event, supporting the touring ‘Patchwork of Hope’ mural and the creation of the large, ‘I Will Rise’ mosaic triptych. Testimonials from these events attest to the power of creative expression for trauma survivors for helping express the verbally inexpressible and with calming traumatically wired nervous systems and breaking the power of dissociative episodes. The Broken Art Chronicles will aim to systematically gather and chronicle qualitative evidence of the impact of different creative activities for survivors and run proof-of-concept small scale studies on different creative and artistic interventions.