#ITSNOTOK My Story: 5

Blue speech bubble logo. Red and white text reads: SEXUAL ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK 2017. 6TH - 12TH FEBRUARY

For Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week we are amplifying disabled survivors voices on our blog. This piece of writing was sent to us anonymously.

Content note: this post is about sexual violence.

5

5,889 miles. 12 hours. 5 years. 3 minutes. 1 person

One night, less than 12 hours. 5,889 miles from the safety of home. You took those hours away from me.

A slip of the hand, a disguised sedative. You marked my body with blood and bruises, imprinting my skin with your control. A constant reminder of my domination and shame.

Waking with no recollection, just the physical marks of power. The shame and embarrassment washed over me biting the wounds aggressively with tides of salt water. A million hidden tears, stinging my wounds. I recoiled and hid my shame from the world.

The bruises you had left on skin had faded but had become scars on my mind. 5 years later. My memory was lost again. The scars of your trauma began to bleed. A 5-year flood burst its banks, washing over me with fear, guilt, shame, terror.

Jolting me awake to the terror of this world. Everything a threat. Lights too bright. Noises too loud. Danger always constant. My mind hyper-vigilant to the potential of my loss of control.

As the people in my life watch me writhe and shake on the floor. My body banging against the floor, my mind attempting to expel your bruises from my mind.

3 minutes. My body disconnecting from the fear, shame, self-loathing and guilt. Trying to process the suffering you caused me.

Slowly I began to heal. Self-love stitched together those scars you made. A wash of anger clotted those scars, hardening them. That guilt and shame unable to penetrate. Resilient.

I now wear those scars as armour. I can talk about them. I can cry and scream about them. I accept them as signs of a battle that I lost, but of a war that I have won. Proof that there is always the possibility of healing.

1 person did this to me. 3 minutes of disconnection. 5 years of shame. 12 hours of domination. 5,889 miles away.

But they will not control me again.

If you have been affected by this post, or would like help to find accessible services in your area, please visit our support page by clicking here.

If you would like to share your story with us, you can anonymously submit by clicking here.

#ITSNOTOK Twitter Q&A

Blue speech bubble logo. Red and white text reads: SEXUAL ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK 2017. 6TH - 12TH FEBRUARY

This Friday Disabled Survivors Unite and Respond are hosting a Twitter Q&A for Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

We hope that this online event will start an important conversation about disabled survivors and how we can be best supported.

Questions will be asked from 1pm – 2pm on our Twitter account, but please feel free to join in at a time convenient to you.

We also welcome you to submit question suggestions for this discussion! Please send these to: info@disabledsurvivorsunite.org.uk

Respond are a service which supports children and adults with learning disabilities who have experienced abuse or trauma, and we’re thrilled to be working with them! To learn more about their work, please click here.

We hope to see you on Twitter at 1pm on Friday!

#ITSNOTOK Call for Submissions

Blue speech bubble logo. Red and white text reads: SEXUAL ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK 2017. 6TH - 12TH FEBRUARY

Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week is fast approaching, and we want to hear from you!

From 6th – 12th of February we will be giving you the opportunity to have your voice heard.

We are looking for disabled people who have survived sexual abuse/violence to create blog posts for us. This will help people to understand how we experience this type of abuse and what needs to change.

There is no right or wrong way to share your story or feelings, but we thought we’d give you a few ideas;

  • Write a letter to someone
  • Share a piece of art you have created or a photograph you have took
  • Tell your story
  • Share information that you think people need to know about disability and sexual abuse/violence
  • Write a poem
  • Offer advice

If you would like our help to create a blog post, please get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to assist you!

You can send all submission by email: info@disabledsurvivorsunite.org.uk

Or you can send written submissions anonymously using this form.

If you get in touch with us by email, you can still choose to remain anonymous and do not have to give us your name.

We hope you will consider helping us in our campaign to have disabled survivors voices heard!

Support Disabled Survivors Unite this #GivingTuesday

Today is #GivingTuesday and we would like to encourage people to support our cause in one of the following ways:

  • We appreciate all donations, no matter how small, to our GoFundME. We are a small voluntary-led organisation and are completely unfunded.
  • We are looking for people to donate their time to help us write grants to secure funding. Please see our blog post to find out more.
  • If you are a disabled survivor, you can share your story with us through our (re)Storytellers project. We use these stories to raise awareness of disabled survivors experiences.
  • You can also retweet us and share our message, the more people that hear about us the more change we can make!

Why not tweet the following to show your support for DSU

Thank you for all your support.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: A Disabled Perspective

Red circle logo. Around the circle text says "stop violence day". In the circle text says "November 25, STOP violence against women". Handprint replaces the o in stop.

Content note: this post includes descriptions of abuse and sexual violence experienced by disabled women.

Last year Public Health England published a report which found that disabled people are twice as likely to experience abuse and sexual violence compared to non-disabled people. And disabled women were identified as being at the highest risk.

They also reported that the abuse disabled people experience is likely to be more severe, frequent, and last for longer periods of time. Yet, across the country, support services for survivors are simply not accessible to disabled people. This is why we exist.

Many services understanding of disability access is narrow, with some believing it simply equates to their building being accessible to wheelchair users. While this is very important, we train them to have a much broader interpretation of access needs and reasonable adjustments.

Our work goes beyond accessibility. We want all services to understand that in order to be truly inclusive, they must recognise that the forms of abuse against disabled people cannot be likened to the experiences of non-disabled survivors. In fact, the abuse we suffer is often unrecognisable when the two are compared.

Many disabled women are abused by partners who also care for them. This gives the abuser the power to withhold food, medication, and personal care. Perpetrators are also able to limit a disabled person’s independence by exacerbating their conditions. One woman told us that her abuser induced seizures that physically harmed her, another explained her wheelchair was damaged by an abusive partner to prevent her from leaving the house.

Disabled people also experience institutional abuse. We recently supported a woman called Jade* whose social worker refused to change her care provider when she explained her personal assistant was being abusive. Jade was told if she cancelled her care package altogether she would not be allowed to leave the house alone and if she did it would result in her being raped. Her social worker knew prior to saying this that Jade was raped as a child.

Disabled women are also less likely to be believed when they speak out about being abused. This is because we are completely desexualised, we are seen to be undesirable and passive. This leads people to believe we cannot be victims of sexual violence and, as a result, we are often disbelieved more frequently. One woman we met was told: “Things like this don’t happen to people like you.”

The dynamic of our abuse is completely unique to disabled people and a big part of our work is to raise awareness of this. It is imperative that all services and organisation which work with survivors recognise this in order to best support disabled people.

On this day, and everyday, we stand alongside our disabled sisters who have experienced abuse. We believe you. We are here to listen. And together, we will create change.

If you would like to share your story with us, please visit our (re)Storytellers page.

If you need support, please visit our support page.

*Please note that small details of the stories in this post have been altered to protect people’s identities, including names; however the abuse experienced has not been changed.

We are recruiting grants writers!

Disabled Survivors Unite are looking for ambitious and enthusiastic disabled people to help us to write grants!

This role is voluntary, as is every position within the organisation. Work will be done remotely from home and hours are very flexible!

Job description;

You will have a key role in ensuring we secure funding to achieve change for disabled survivors of abuse and sexual violence.

You will have experience in writing bids for Trusts and Foundations, preparing proposals, or fundraising.

You will have the ability to handle confidential information and work as part of a team.

This opportunity is open to anyone living in the UK.

For more information or to request an application form please email: info@disabledsurvivorsunite.org.uk

Closing date: 28 February 2017

DSU does Parallel

On Sunday, September the fourth we were invited to run a stall at Parallel London and had a wonderful time! Ashley and Bekki sat behind our stall which has a black board sign on it saying ‘Disabled Survivors Unite’. Parallel is a family festival which celebrates disability and diversity. A big part of the event is the inclusive run and push races, which hundreds of people participated in. Our co-founder Ashley took part in the Super Sensory 1k race to raise money for Victim Support, a charity which we are looking forward to working with over the next few weeks. Ashley smiling wearing a Victim Support bib and holding up a Parallel medal worn around their neck. It was great to meet festival-goers and talk to them about the work we are doing and our plans for the next year. We are so thankful for all the support and encouragement people gave to us! Little girl wearing a princess crown holding up black board sign on it which says ‘Disabled Survivors Unite’. We also ran a workshop where we invited people to help us design our new logo. All entries were fantastic and we have sent these over to our graphic designer for inspiration. Woman wearing a flower crown holding up a piece of paper with the logo she designed for us. And it was brilliant to see so many people wearing our Survivor badges with pride around the Olympic Park! a handful of purple badges which have ‘survivor’ written on them. There were many businesses running stalls too and it was amazing to see them investing time and effort into becoming more inclusive. We had the pleasure of speaking to staff from Barclays Bank and learnt about their services for disabled people. We were very impressed by their range of accessible resources! photo of Barclays accessibility pamphlet featuring one person with a guide dog and another wearing a hearing aid. We want to say a big thank you to Parallel for inviting us and for all the hard work they put in to make the day such a great success. Special thanks go to the lovely Charlie Trueman who worked with us to get everything in place for our stall. Charlie smiling in high vis jacket holding up black board sign on it which says ‘Disabled Survivors Unite’. We can’t wait to do it all over again, see you next year! Alice, Bekki and Ashley smiling. Bekki holds the Parallel London sign and logo.