Strategies for Survivors Zine Available!

color-cover-256Our newest zine is out!  Strategies for Survivors is full of hints and tips from our experience, for survivors of sexual assault and the people who support survivors.

Click on the image for a black-and-white PDF download — it might take a while to transfer.  Either view it on line or click the “booklet” setting on your print options page to make a printed copy.

For printed copies on nice paper — especially color copies — contact us by e-mail at SurvivorSupport@Riseup.Net

We are grateful to all our collective members over the years, and especially the survivors and their supporters we’ve had the honor to know, for making this zine possible.

Emergency Town Hall Meeting — Community Rising Against Police Brutality and in Support of a Survivor

***The snow date for the Town Hall Meeting is Friday, January 24th 7:30pm, same location.***

On Tuesday, January 21st there will be a Town Hall Meeting in response to a young survivor who came forward about a recent sexual assault by a police officer who utilized racist “Stop and Frisk” laws to detain him.

This article contains information about the upcoming meeting and includes explicit descriptions of the assault and it’s aftermath.

There is a community crying out for support right now and mobilizing around this survivor who is seeking justice and safety. He still faces three misdemeanor charges from the arrest and requires continuing medical attention from the assault. This community of support is forming to help him as well as to address some of the major systemic conditions that allowed the police officers to assault him in the first place–racism and profiling, and police brutality and violence.

We are inspired by this survivor’s courage and the way this community is coming together. We will be attending this meeting at Catalyst for Change Ministries at 3727 Baring St. right here in West Philly to lend our support to this survivor and community. We encourage all our local supporters to come out to the meeting to show solidarity and see how we can be helpful in this struggle for racial justice and justice for survivors!

Emergency Town Hall Meeting
Tuesday, January 21st 7:30pm
3727 Baring St.
Convened by Techbook Online

Image

Picture reposted from the Philly In Focus article.

Response to Crime Watch West Philly Local

In mid-November, West Philly Local’s “Crime Watch” had two posts on robbery and sexual assault.  The first headline, posted on November 12, read, “Police release video of suspect sought in robbery, assault of woman at 50th and Hazel” and the second posted November 15, “50th street robbery, assault suspect caught.”  Reportedly there were multiple robberies and assaults in this area around this time.  As individuals committed to creating collective community accountability and supporting survivors these reports raise many questions.   Perhaps most obviously are the racial implications of the video released of the suspect.  Watching the video is chilling. Here we are ostensibly being presented with a tool for making our community safer by identifying someone who is causing harm so that he can be stopped, but what we actually see is a video that features an ambiguous subject walking on the sidewalk with no identifying features other than him being a young black male. We have to ask the question: how does this actually help us as members of this community enhance our safety and the safety of our neighbors and the survivor of this assault? And though it goes against the prevailing cultural norms of policing and prisons, we come to only one answer: It simply does not.

And so, sexual assault and the very real need for survivors and communities to regain a sense of safety incite other forms of systemic harm – in this case, the harm caused by policing practices that target black males.  The institutionalization of racism through policing is particularly present in Philadelphia and the state of PA — where a $400 million dollar budget for prison expansion was recently approved amidst massive cuts to schools, job training, and other critical social services that actually keep our communities safe.

In no way do we mean to dishonor survivors’ experiences or the choices they make as they seek safety – especially given the limited scope of options available to them.  We are not trying to shame survivors choices, but rather we want to ask questions that both honor the needs and experiences of survivors of sexual assault, as well as survivors of the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC), and all those implicated in systems of harm that structure and influence our relationships and communities. We lament the fear, isolation and scarcity of options that survivors feel when it comes to seeking safety and healing after an assault which makes going to the police and relying on a racist and violent Criminal “Justice” System seem like the only answer–even knowing how much more harm these systems will cause, often to the survivor themself.

But we can’t stop there. We want to incite communities to ask these same questions that we are asking ourselves: why do survivors feel they have no other choices than calling the cops, implicating the PIC and other systems of violence?  And who is calling the cops even really an option for anyways?  What can we do to create alternatives that could actually address the needs of survivors, that could actually help heal and make our communities safer? What would that look like? What is it made of? What can WE do!?

In The Revolution Starts At Home, UBUNTU — a coalition led by women and gender nonconforming people of color, queers and survivors based in Durham, NC — speak about their experiences supporting survivors through alternative community responses/strategies.  In it Alexis Pauline Gumbs writes,

“In each case these responses were invented on the spot, without a pre-existing model or a logistical agreement.  But they were made possible by a larger understanding that we, as a collective of people living all over the city, are committed to responding to gendered violence.  This comes out of the political education and collective healing work we have done, and the building of relationships that strongly send the message, You can call me if you need something, or if you don’t.  You can call me to be there for you… or someone that you need help being there for. Since we have come to see each other as resources, we no longer think our only option is to call the state when faced with violent systems.” (Gumbs, 82)

To truly support our communities, we need to ask questions that come from a place of critical compassion; questions that recognize differences and honor multiple stories and truths, so we can act from a place that builds community through supporting one another.

Note: The Revolution Starts At Home started as a zine, the full text of which is available online!

Check out our new mini-zine, Strategies for Survivors

We’re excited to announce our new one-page zine, Strategies for Survivors. View or download the PDF at: https://phillysurvivorsupportcollective.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/strategiesforsurvivors.pdf

Note: This zine is designed to be printed on legal size paper (8.5×14).

Get in touch if you want paper copies — you can email us at survivorsupport@riseup.net, or call (215) 618-2020.

Please spread the word to anyone you think might find the zine useful!

strategiesforsurvivors

Seeking Safety and Accountability Online

The internet is a place where survivors can call for public support, share stories and build community with other survivors. It is a place where communities can generate responses to the violence that has happened in their midst, and because the internet is so public, where some level of accountability can be pursued at least on the level of transparency of information about people’s harmful behavior.

However, it can also be a place of renewed trauma for survivors. There are no shortage of examples of survivors calling for support and receiving ridicule, victim blaming, and cross examination instead. Also, because it’s so public, once that information is out there, it is impossible to reel it back in and that story may continue to follow a survivor long after they wish to be done with all reminders of it.

Here are a few recent examples of how people have chosen to respond online to sexual assault(s) in their community, call for accountability for the person/people responsible for the assault(s) and build their community up to be a safer place.

Trigger warning: Both of these links go to sites where people are responding to direct experiences of sexual violence. Both contain graphic descriptions of the assaults they are responding to.

Linked here is an open letter to the administration of Steubenville High School responding to a recent and highly publicized assault involving members of that school’s football team. This letter asks stakeholders in that community to take account of ways the school and town’s culture not only allowed for the assault to occur, but also allowed for many of the young men who participated in the violence to feel justified in their actions, as if there were no negative consequences for what they were doing–and it demands that the community take steps to change this culture.

One important thing to note: this letter is not from the survivor of the most recent assault or from any other individual having survived violence at the hands of the young men in Steubenville. In light of that it is important that this letter leaves the survivor’s identity unknown so at least outside of her immediate community where people already know who she is, she can choose how involved she wants to be in any kind of larger public response and doesn’t face additional backlash or negativity directed at her based on this internet call-out and their set of demands.

http://steubenville2013.wordpress.com/photo-less-letter/

Linked here is a public call-out from a survivor local to the Philly/West Chester/Newark, DE area who has asked that her story be re-posted and made public on the internet. She is asking for people in the area especially people who go to shows and parties to be aware of and make public the name and behavior of the person she is calling out in order to keep those spaces safe from someone who has caused a lot of harm to her and others. She has chosen to make her story public and has received a lot of support from other survivors and community members in response to her blog post.

http://cullan.tumblr.com/post/41926285066/tw-rape-tw-abuse-ian-roberts-is-a-rapist-and-an

There are many many more ways that survivors and their communities can, have and will use the internet to call for accountability, justice and change. And still more folks will not turn to this medium, but will work in different ways publicly and privately to heal from the violence of sexual assault in their lives and communities. We hope that sharing these couple of examples can help keep folks informed and creative in generating healing and supportive responses for themselves and their communities.

“We’re Called Survivors Because We’re Still Here”

“Pain is a message. You are probably going to experience a fair amount of it, so it’s important that you know this. No matter how bad it is, pain is not a judgment, or a punishment, or a weakness: pain is a message, from the part of you that wants to live, telling you that something is wrong.

I don’t care which jerk told you to “handle it” “better”; you are receiving a message, right now, from a very necessary part of yourself. The message is, “I want to live. Get me some help.” It’s urgent. That is why it hurts.” (from We’re Called Survivors Because We’re Still Here)

We think this is a great article for people who are, or know, sexual assault survivors …
… so that’s everybody (unfortunately).

It is good enough that we recommend it despite the brief mention about involving the legal system — which we do not support.

Survivors in Solidarity with Prison Abolition — Anthology Call for Submissions — DEADLINE EXTENDED

DEADLINE EXTENDED: June 15, 2012.

Survivors in Solidarity with Prison Abolition

ANTHOLOGY CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:

Working Title: Challenging Convictions: Survivors of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Writing on Solidarity with Prison Abolition.

Completed submissions due June 15, 2012.

Like much prison abolition work, the call for this anthology comes from frustration and hope: frustration with organizers against sexual assault and domestic violence who treat the police as a universally available and as a good solution; frustration with prison abolitionists who only use “domestic violence” and “rape” as provocative examples; and, frustration with academic discussions that use only distanced third-person case studies and statistics to talk about sexual violence and the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). But, this project also shares the hope and worth of working toward building communities without prisons and without sexual violence. Most importantly, it is anchored in the belief that resisting prisons, domestic violence, and sexual assault are inseparable.

Organizers of this anthology want to hear from survivors in conversation with prisonabolition struggles. We are interested in receiving submissions from survivors who are/have been imprisoned, and survivors who have not.  Both those survivors who have sought police intervention, as well as those who haven’t, are encouraged to submit. We are looking for personal essays and creative non-fiction from fellow survivors who are interested in discussing their unique needs in anti-violence work and prison abolitionism.

Discussions of sexual assault, domestic violence, police violence, prejudice within courts, and imprisonment cannot be separated from experiences of privilege and marginalization. Overwhelmingly people who are perceived to be white, straight, able-bodied, normatively masculine, settlers who are legal residents/citizens, and/or financially stable are not only less likely to experience violence but also less likely to encounter the criminal injustice system than those who are not accorded the privileges associated with these positions. At the same time, sexual assault and domestic violence support centers and shelters are often designed with certain privileges assumed. We are especially interested in contributions that explore how experiences of race, ability, gender, citizenship, sexuality, or class inform your understandings of, or interactions with cops, prisons, and sexual assault/domestic violence support.

Potential topics:
·      What does justice look like to you?
·      Perspectives on police and prisons as a default response to sexual assault
·      What do you want people in the prison abolition movement with no first hand experiences of survivorship to know?
·      How did you overcome depression/feelings of futility when dealing with these systems?
·      Critical reflections on why the legal system has or has not felt like an option for you
·      Perspectives on the cops/PIC participating in rape culture
·      Restorative justice and other methods for responding to sexual violence outside of the PIC? (if you are a settler be conscious of appropriations of indigenous methods)
·      How have you felt about conversations you’ve had about the PIC?
·      How sexual assault inside and outside of the PIC is treated by organizers against sexual assault, domestic violence, and the PIC
·      Police and prison guards as triggers
·      Responding to sexual assault and domestic violence when communities weren’t there for you
·      What the legal system offers survivors and what it doesn’t
·      Rants at manarchists, the writers/directors of televised cop dramas, and communities that let you down
·      Survivor shaming for reporting and for not reporting to police

Please submit first-person accounts, critical reflections, essays, and creative non-fiction to survivorsinsoli@gmail.com by June 15, 2012. Early submissions are encouraged. First time authors encouraged.

If you have questions, we welcome emails to survivorsinsoli@gmail.com with “Question”in the subject line. We are looking for both shorter pieces of writing and longer pieces, but if your piece is more than 20 pages consider sending us an email to run the idea by us.

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VISIT THEIR WEBSITE FOR MORE INFO: survivorsinsoli.blogspot.com/