Storytelling can a powerful tool for violence against women survivors. It can help educate bystanders and demonstrate the impact VAW has on a community. It empowers survivors, giving them a voice to share and make sense of their personal experiences.
Storytelling also has healing power. It is a catalyst for survivors experiencing a variety of emotions – pain, fear, guilt, confusion – and reminds survivors that they are not alone. By telling and listening to stories, survivors can connect with others who had similar experiences. Through this experience, survivors can build life-long relationships, and develop a louder, collective voice.
In this “16 For 16” article, we present 16 ways violence against women survivors can share their stories. These simple ideas touch on various platforms, including peer-to-peer, public, private, mainstream and more to help survivors use and benefit from the power of storytelling.
Written and compiled by Rebecca DeLuca.
Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #1: Activism Campaigns
There are many innovative campaigns that use unorthodox ways to tell and present survivor stories, for example: The Clothesline Project. The Clothesline Project is a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions and share their stories, either anonymously or publicly. Survivors decorate a shirt, which is then displayed publicly with the shirts of other survivors on a clothesline. The hung shirts are viewed by others to demonstrate the impact violence has on our communities.
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #2: Anonymous Apps
Telling your story can be a cathartic exercise, even if you’re not ready to publicly identify yourself as a survivor. There are many anonymous apps and websites that are a great platform for anonymous storytelling, including Whisper and PostSecret. Using anonymous apps, your story may be heard by thousands of users, and will have a positive impact on many.
A blog is a personal, online diary. Similar to using a journal, it gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts, questions, wishes and stories. Blogs can be made anonymous, or you can tell your story publicly. If setting up a blog seems like a daunting task, you have the opportunity to submit a post to someone else and allow them to circulate it for you.
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #4: Connect with an existing organisation
Connecting with an existing organisation ensures your story will be heard. This increases the chances you will positively impact somebody else. Many organisations working to end violence against women produce survivor story series, including The Pixel Project’s Survivor Stories Project, Women Against Abuse, Hollaback!, and the Voices and Faces Project.
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #5: Connect with journalists
When discussing violence against women, journalists seek out various angles, including survivor stories. There are various websites that you can sign up for which will allow you to receive story-calls from journalists, including Help a Reporter Out (HARO), to give you an opportunity to share your story.
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #6: E-Books
Getting published is no longer as difficult with the option to self-publish. Now, you do not have to acquire an agent, distribute manuscripts, and wait for an acceptance. With the rise of the digital era, everyone has the option to write and publish their own e-book. Now, you can use e-books as a storytelling platform through either fiction or nonfiction.
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #7: Educational Groups
Many high schools, colleges and universities have their own assault response centres or groups, focusing on violence against women or girls. Included in these services are counsellors or therapists on call to listen to your story privately. These groups also become an avenue to tell your story on a more public level by becoming a leader or ambassador.
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #8: Facebook Groups
Joining a Facebook group is an instant way to connect to other survivors around the world. You are able to post questions, share resources, and give or receive support. It is important to note that while some groups may be private or secret and highly moderated, they are still public to a certain extent, as your Facebook profile is attached and the other group members will be able to identify you.
Being selected to be featured in a magazine about survivors is a way to tell your story to the masses. You may be asked to write an article yourself, or be interviewed by someone else. Magazines may be traditional, print publications or digital, including Together for Girls Safe Magazine or xoJane’s “It Happened to Me” series.
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #10: Message Boards
Various organisations host message boards and support forums, including Fort Refuge. Here, survivors can connect with each other, share their stories or offer or receive resources. These boards are beneficial because they can be anonymous or public, and are also moderated by an admin or community member, ensuring negativity remains off the message boards.
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #11: Opinion Editorial
As a survivor, you may have helpful, informed opinions on news headlines, law changes, and other issues and factors related to violence against women. One way to share your story is through opinion editorials in a newspaper, either digital or in print. Unlike traditional editorials, opinion editorials, also known as Op-Eds, are written from a subjective view and use personal experience to tell a story or argue a point.
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #12: Podcast
A podcast is a digital audio recording that users can download and listen to on their own. Podcasts have been used for over 10 years and continue to gain popularity. Many people flock to podcasts because they can listen while doing other things, as opposed to video, television, or reading blogs. When telling your story via podcasting, you have a variety of options. For example: you can tell your story as a guest on a current podcast, including Mart Metcalf’s or The Ruth Institute’s podcast, or you can create your own.
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #13: Poetry
A new form of therapy – Poetry Therapy – is developing because writing poetry is an extremely intimate and healing experience. It can also be a very personal or public experience, depending on your desires. You can write poetry for yourself, either in a journal or on a private blog. If you’re comfortable, you can also share your poetry online or a poetry reading.
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #14: Twitter
Twitter is an easy, accessible way for survivors to tell their stories. Stories can be told independently through your own personal account, through an anonymous account, or through a hashtag, such as #RapeHasNoUniform. As Scott Berkowitz, Founder and President of RAINN, said, “having this whole community of other people who have been through something similar can be really empowering for people.”
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #15: Volunteer at Events
Volunteering at events is an important way to tell your story because you will be connecting directly with supporters and activists. These events provide various opportunities for storytelling, including keynote speaker, presenter, or mingling with donors, volunteers, or guests.
Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #16: YouTube
YouTube is easily accessible, and one of the fastest growing social media platforms around. Accounts are free, and technology to record, edit, and upload a video are easy to use and inexpensive. Many people go to YouTube to tell, listen and share stories, especially about overcoming adversity. Julie Vu, aka Princess Joules, for example, recently shared her story about domestic violence. The video was viewed 100,964 in one week.