21st June 2016
This week it is our staff conference - a time for us to get together and plan for the year ahead. It is crucial for us to always think about we can put the voice of victims and survivors at the heart of everything we do. Our Chief Executive, Diana, reflects on the power of people speaking out.
I was struck last week by the courage of several victims of gender-based violence to speak out publicly, and just how important it is that everyone hears their voices – not just those of us who work in the sector. Whether it is the extraordinary letter from the victim of rape at Stanford to Brock Turner, the rapist, or the emotional words from Barry Steenkamp about his murdered daughter – they all put in stark relief the impact of gender-based violence and how we must never ever lose sight of this.
And the wonderful Rachel Williams, who spoke so powerfully on Radio London last week about her experiences. Brave survivors of rape and sexual abuse have spoken out publicly via the Clear Lines Festival, led by Winnie Li and Nina Burrowes. A blog post from the Womanity Foundation highlighted the work of GlobalGirl Media, which is bringing women’s experiences to life through video. Increasingly, social media too is giving us all a glimpse of this reality.
Lots of good and important stuff is happening out there and we are listening hard. At SafeLives, we describe ourselves as expert-led. We must remind ourselves that the real experts are those who have lived it, experienced it, and know first-hand the fear and trauma of abuse and assault. And that is why is the victims, survivors, and their friends and family that truly lead our work – helping us understand how we can work together to make things better.
People think abuse happens behind ‘closed doors’, well - not if these women have anything to do with it. These voices couldn't be further from the victim-blaming, judgemental narratives that we read every day.
I applaud their courage and hope that the world starts listening to these and many many others. As the Womanity Foundation's blog put it, we all need to ‘disrupt the silence’.