As a working group, we aim to show compassion to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. We understand that anyone can be a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence. We are not therapists, social workers, or professionally trained advocates. Individually we have varying degrees of experience and capacity.
Our goals are to work against rape culture, specifically to:
- create and provide revolutionary infrastructure for survivors to feel more comfortable in the spaces they choose to inhabit
- support survivors and supporters in creating their own pods to work toward healing and accountability as envisioned by the survivor
- build conversations of consent and accountability within the General Defense Committee (GDC) Local 14 of the Industrial Workers of the World
- coordinate and mobilize GDC members for actions in solidarity with survivors
We want to emphasize that responsibility for personal violations must be taken by the people who enact them: survivors are not responsible for their perpetrators’ actions, nor for fixing their perpetrators.
While some survivors choose to share about their assaults and may be more visible, some survivors feel pressure to come forward. Believing survivors does not require interrogating them. We recognize that nonconsent can manifest in many ways. We respect survivors’ own narratives.
We have some guiding principles or suggestions when talking with survivors of trauma. This is by no means a comprehensive list. Below we have some more resources that may also be helpful.
- Believe survivors. When someone trusts you with this information, show compassion and validation.
- Only offer support you know you can provide. Be clear when your types and level of support change.
- We aren’t superheroes and we’re human. If you have to commit less support for your own mental health, center your reasons around yourself, not around the expressions of the survivor’s trauma.
- Don’t promise things you can’t control. Traditionally comforting sayings such as “It will all be okay,” or “it will feel better soon” have sweet sentiment but are not things that you can actually ensure.
- Only give advice when asked. Recognize that what is important and right for one person will likely be different for another person.
- Maintain confidentiality. Assume that all information should be confidential. Check with with survivors for clarification on what is confidential and what isn’t, and err on the side of caution. This not only ensures the survivor’s control of their narrative as much as possible, but also their physical safety.
- Some people have the urge to take matters into their own hands and go beyond or disregard a survivor’s wishes — don’t do this.
We are not a traditional support group where survivors come to talk and get counsel and solidarity from other survivors. If that is what you are looking for, consider going to the support groups hosted by the Sexual Violence Center in Hennepin County or the SOS Sexual Assault Services of Ramsey County.
At this time we may not be capable of taking on specific accountability actions. We are connected with quite a few grassroots groups who are able to support survivors with more ongoing time and commitment and can help survivors and supporters find each other. If we cannot meet your needs we will try our best to connect you with people who can.
If you would like more information and by your own timeframe get connected by folks that could support you or other resources, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with the two co-chairs of the working group.
If after reading this mission statement you’d like to get involved by joining the working group, please fill out this google form: https://goo.gl/forms/1aZkPkLMhIebmNYi1 and we will follow up with you shortly.
Here are some resources for support of survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence in the Twin Cities and in Minnesota: