Survivors’ Voices


Survivors' Voices

Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to replace professional support, guidance, advice, or diagnosis.

Trigger warning: A trigger is a word or an event that can cause an action to take place. In this toolkit certain words can be triggering for survivors. Which means that reading those words or sentences can cause a survivor to either feel uncomfortable or anxious and might even take them back to an unpleasant memory. If while reading someone does experience this, it is best to do a quick grounding exercise.

Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Tell yourself that you are safe and you are ok. Use your breathing as an anchor to help bring you to the present moment. Do this as many times as you want to or at regular intervals. You don't need to go through this toolkit by yourself, sit with someone you trust and ask them to go through it with you.

To better understand the resources available for survivors and their experiences using (or choosing not to use) professional services, Sayfty sent out an anonymous survey through their networks and social media channels. The following are some excerpts from the responses received.

(We need) general improved dialogue about power dynamics and consent in public forums.

Honestly, (we need) trustworthy, fair and effective legal and police systems.

I believe: (we need) a group of people, who don't know you, and have similar stories can just talk and share and just listen.

I think I'd have felt stronger if people around me were sensitive.

I would like the people around me to take action against the perpetrators they know and tolerate in their lives and circles.

(We need) a Know Your Rights toolkit.

Scared I would be shamed or blamed for the abuse because it is common practice to blame the victim.

I did try and seek support. But eventually had to deal with it on my own. Supporters can probably provide resources such as shelter and constant care.

Yes, I seeked my brother's and friends' support and they helped me by primarily listening to me. We discussed the incident in detail and it was a release of a huge burden.

Yes. Don't tell victims how to deal with their trauma. Don't ask questions that can be construed as placing blame on them (What were you doing? Were you drinking? What were you wearing?). Listening is much more important. Don't equate their trauma to anything else. Don't make them feel like not taking your advice will offend you or you will be disappointed in them.

Yes. I reached out to family, but it was followed by suppression and sense of humor. I didn't find help, but depending on the nature of family and friends, I still believe that if one talks about it to people they're comfortable with, it helps.

Getting out of an abusive relationship was incredibly difficult. It wasn’t because I was so in love with my boyfriend, it was because I had begun to believe that is all my life could ever be, that it was all I deserved. Attacking self-worth and destroying all bridges is typical behaviour for abusers. I couldn’t talk about what I was going through with anyone. When I was finally able to see some light and get out I had to rebuild everything - my life, my self worth, myself.

The friends lost along the way were by my side again which is one of the main reasons I am still here. Rebuilding took a lot of work. I had to understand and rework my patterns, begin to establish my identity and self-worth. It was difficult but well worth every painful experience.

Though I am okay now there are still many things that trigger me. People yelling at or around me is one such trigger.

Though I have rebuilt myself and I am the person I want to be finally - healthy, self-confident, and happy these triggers can take me back. Trigger warnings are so important for people like me because I get to prepare myself for what I might see or hear. These warnings do not protect me from feeling the feelings of powerlessness and fear I experience but they do help me prepare for them. I can remind myself that I’m safe and he can’t hurt me anymore.

People told me "If you are in love with him, it doesn't count as violence". So I lost courage and I felt like a fool who deserved what happened. Also psychological or emotional abuse and violence doesn't leave visible wounds, so that I felt I couldn't even prove it.

I wish there was better legal services and police or judicial system.

Believe the victim(s) and put their needs ahead of family shame. Otherwise, the victim takes on the shame and guilt.