#ITSNOTOK Messages from Natasha and Alice

Blue speech bubble logo. Red and white text reads: SEXUAL ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK 2018. 5TH - 11TH FEBRUARY

Content Warning: Discussions of sexual violence and abuse

This Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, Disabled Survivors Unite is sharing messages on our blog written by survivors for survivors.

We recognise the importance of people speaking out about sexual violence, and we stand with all those who have told their stories, but we also know the current media coverage is overwhelming for many survivors. Due to how difficult these past few months have been especially, we decided to ask survivors to write messages of support and advice for other survivors who are struggling.

Today we’re sharing messages from Natasha and Alice.

For those days when it’s tough. Focus on small things little achievements from just getting out of bed or sending a message.

And know that no matter who you are and what’s happened there is something good in the world you live in if you look hard enough.

For me with having communication issues I found people would tell me I read the situation wrong. That I must have missed signals. But that shifts the blame to me when it still is not my blame to have. Don’t let people make you feel to blame just because you have more difficulties than other people.

— Natasha

People often say if we’re feeling overwhelmed we should just come off social media, but that’s really difficult for some people, especially for those of us who are isolated without our online communities and friends. A better solution could be to make social media safe spaces for yourself when you’re struggling.

One option for Twitter is to ‘mute’ certain words or hashtags. Another is use browser extensions such as Soothe which allows you to pick which content you don’t want to see and blurs this out.

You could also consider setting up new social media accounts where you can follow others who you know won’t post things you’ll struggle to see. For example you could set up a Twitter account just following certain friends, or an Instagram just following animal accounts. These separate accounts can be a safe space for when things are overwhelming, and you always have the option to go back and use your main accounts when you I want to.

Some people find limiting the amount of news they look at can help too. You could delete news apps on your phone temporarily or change the settings so you aren’t being sent news alert notifications.

There are also lots of apps for people who a struggling with their mental health. For example, Booster Buddy is a free app which lets you check in with how you’re feeling, reminds you about doctors appointments and when to take medication, and helps you follow self-care routines.

— Alice 

#ITSNOTOK Messages from Jodie and Fiona

Blue speech bubble logo. Red and white text reads: SEXUAL ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK 2018. 5TH - 11TH FEBRUARY

Content Warning: Discussions of sexual violence and abuse

This Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, Disabled Survivors Unite is sharing messages on our blog written by survivors for survivors.

We recognise the importance of people speaking out about sexual violence, and we stand with all those who have told their stories, but we also know the current media coverage is overwhelming for many survivors. Due to how difficult these past few months have been especially, we decided to ask survivors to write messages of support and advice for other survivors who are struggling.

Today we’re sharing messages from Jodie and Fiona.

I didn’t really start processing what had happened to me until almost a year later, during a high-profile rape scandal at my university, and for ages I worried that I’d just “jumped on the bandwagon” or misremembered events to fit what I was reading in the news.

It turns out that those late realisations are actually a pretty common response, partly because of how the brain processes trauma and partly because sexual abuse and harassment are so normalised that survivors often assume they’re the problem.

My thoughts are with all survivors struggling with recent news, but particularly with those realising for the first time that they’re a survivor too – your experiences are real, and I believe you.

— Jodie

Don’t be angry with yourself if you cannot leave the person who hurt you. It can take a long time to get to a position where you feel able to leave, whether it’s because you don’t feel safe leaving or because you are reliant on them. This becomes extra complicated when the person is your carer. You can do things at a pace which keeps you safe, and sometimes that means staying for a while.

I can’t recommend rape counselling highly enough. I had it in the year following the rape, and I also went back last year because I realised that there were elements of it which had only really bubbled to the surface recently, 17 years after the fact. There is no time limit on when you go – they will help you even if it was decades ago. Contact your local rape and abuse network, and ask them if they have an advocate who specialises in disability, or if they can find one.

— Fiona

#ITSNOTOK Messages from Hannah and David

Blue speech bubble logo. Red and white text reads: SEXUAL ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK 2018. 5TH - 11TH FEBRUARY

This Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, Disabled Survivors Unite is sharing messages on our blog written by survivors for survivors.

We recognise the importance of people speaking out about sexual violence, and we stand with all those who have told their stories, but we also know the current media coverage is overwhelming for many survivors. Due to how difficult these past few months have been especially, we decided to ask survivors to write messages of support and advice for other survivors who are struggling.

Today we’re sharing messages from Hannah and David.

If you hear or read something upsetting, it’s ok for you to be upset and cry. It’s ok for you to be angry. Equally you might see something which you think should upset you but it doesn’t. That’s ok too, we shouldn’t feel bad about not being upset either. Try to be kind to yourself.

— Hannah

I’m not sure that the hurt and anger will go away completely anytime soon, though it is only 6 months since the incident so I guess it is early days.

These occurrences are now in the news on a daily basis and although this can bring up awful memories for victims, including myself, all this publicity can be looked on as a positive thing. The fact that it is now being so widely reported makes everybody very aware of these things. And this could make it easier for people to be open and to talk about things.

Yes it is absolutely disgusting and distressing that this is so widely spread, but it is only by the publicity and awareness that the way this is dealt with that can bring about change.

My anger and resentment is not only directed at my abuser, but also the limitations of the law and the way it has been dealt with. Maybe something can now change.

I think for me, the biggest breakthrough to my healing was the realisation that it WAS NOT MY FAULT AND I DID NOTHING WRONG!

At first I became very withdrawn and was asked all the time by family and friends “what’s wrong” and “are you okay”. I guess I was too embarrassed and ashamed to say what had happened.

However I realised I had nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. I have nothing to hide.

As we have all seen recently, once someone speaks out then others will feel able to also speak about their experiences.

I guess that what I am trying to say is that it can all be turned into a positive and that the abuse is now more openly talked about and then and only then, we can bring about change.

I also wrote a letter (without any intention of posting it) to my abuser to say how I felt at the time and how it had affected me. I must admit that on rereading it I was surprised at how angry and upset I was, however this was very therapeutic and may be useful thing for other people to do.

— David

#ITSNOTOK Disability Themed 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, the 10th of February, from 1-2pm GMT, Disabled Survivors Unite will be hosting a Twitter Q&A with Respond centred around disability for Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

We welcome everyone to take part in this discussion! We are especially keen to hear from disabled survivors and disabled people.

However, we have purposefully phrased questions in such a way that means you do not have to disclose whether you are either disabled or a survivor when answering.

Disabled Survivors Unite are a user-led organisation (all founders are disabled) creating change for disabled survivors of abuse and sexual violence. You can find out more about our work here.

Respond is a service which provides support to children and adults with learning disabilities who have experienced abuse or trauma. You can find out more about their work here.

How our Twitter Q&A will work

Be sure to follow @DSUtweets and @RESPOND_UK on Twitter. All questions will be posted by the @DSUtweets Twitter account.

We will be using the #itsnotok hashtag for this discussion. However, please note that this hashtag is being used widely for Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, so other discussions might be taking place on it.

We will be tweeting ten questions over the hour, but please feel free to take your time answering these. All questions are available in advance below.

Format of Q&A

If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet should follow the format: “A1 [your message] #itsnotok”

In this case, Q1 stands for Question #1 and A1 stands for Answer #1.

The hashtag will allow us to see your responses, and the number means we know which question you are answering. However, if you find it easier, feel free to quote retweet with your answer.

If you might be overwhelmed by the volume of tweets and only want to see the chat’s questions so you can respond to them, check @DSUtweets account. Each question will tweeted about 6 minutes apart.

For an explanation of how to participate in a Twitter chat, please check out this useful example by Ruti Regan here.

Check out this captioned ASL explanation of how to participate in a chat by @behearddc by clicking here.

If you need any support during this discussion, or afterwards, please visit our website page on Getting Support here.

If you think posts may be triggering for you, please ‘mute’ the #itsnotok hashtag. This way you should not see the questions and answers. You can learn how to do this by clicking here.

Questions

Feel free to prepare your answers in advance, but please only post these once we have asked the questions on Friday.

Q1 Please introduce yourself however you feel comfortable! If you’re a service, please describe your work & reason for joining. #itsnotok

Q2 What services exist for disabled survivors? How can we create more specialised services? #itsnotok

Q3 How can existing support services become more accessible to disabled people? What changes would you like to see? #itsnotok

Q4 How do disabled people experience sexual abuse and sexual violence in different ways to non-disabled people? #itsnotok

Q5 What can schools do to educate disabled children about safe, appropriate sex and how to identify abuse? #itsnotok

Q6 How can therapy help disabled survivors who have experienced sexual abuse and violence? How could it be made more accessible? #itsnotok

Q7 What can the police do to better support disabled survivors? What changes are needed? #itsnotok

Q8 Does the criminal justice system put disabled survivors at a disadvantage? If so, how can we change this? #itsnotok

Q9 How important is it that disabled user led groups/survivors are involved in research surrounding abuse and sexual violence? #itsnotok

Q10 If you could say one thing to a disabled survivor, what would it be? We will collect these into a blog post for survivors to read. #itsnotok

We hope you can participate in our first #itsnotok disability themed Twitter discussion!

If you miss it, don’t worry! You’re free to answer the questions at any point!

We have tried to make this Q&A accessible a possible. However, can you think of anything that could make it more accessible? We welcome suggestions, please email these to us: info@disabledsurvivorsunite.org.uk

We want to say a special thank you to Alice Wong, founder of the Disability Visibility Project, for letting us use her wonderful #CripTheVote twitter discussion template. Be sure to follow Alice at @SFdirewolf and the Disability Visibility Project at @DisVisibility.

#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!

Disabled Survivors Unite Says #ITSNOTOK

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 story was sent to us anonymously.

Content note: this post mentions rape.

“I was recovering from brain injury, I had become paralysed on my right hand side and couldn’t walk very well. A person who had been my boyfriend a few years before came to visit me. We were now friends, buddies. We were looking at records and magazines in my bedroom.

He gave me a hug, then kissed me, then raped me in my bedroom. It was not consensual sex, I was stuck in my bedroom, deeply terrified and ashamed.

I never told anyone, not even my mum. I just remember being fixed in one position feeling very cold, scared and confused.”

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 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!

Disabled Survivors Unite is Headed to the European Parliament

Disabled Survivors Unite is thrilled to announce we are speaking on the panel “Domestic Violence Against People with Disabilities” at the European Parliament. 

All four co-founders will be giving testimonies from disabled survivors, alongside TABÚ from Iceland and We Rise Again from Sweden. Our friend Eleanor Lisney from Sisters of Frida will also be speaking about structural barriers faced by victims of domestic violence. 

This hearing, which is hosted by MEP Soraya Post, hopes to raise awareness of domestic abuse against disabled people and put the issue on the political agenda.

This event will be taking place on the 31st of January in Brussels. 

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.