We were going to write this on 24th August, which would have been our 3 month anniversary, following our launch in May this year. As with many ‘best laid plans’, time has disappeared from under us, and we’re a little late!
One of the many reasons for us being late, is that we have so much to do! When we started this campaign, we knew victim blaming was an issue, because that is obviously the main point of our campaign. How much of an issue has left us shocked – not because we weren’t expecting those who have experienced abuse to share their stories with us, but because of the sheer volume of people we’ve had telling us that our campaign is needed.
Since our launch, our website has had over 70,000 unique visits. We have more than 250 posts on our website – varying in length from a few lines, to thousands of words. Many women tell us that we are the first people they have ever disclosed to. We offer complete anonymity – when you submit a post to us, all we ever see is the name that you choose for yourself, and the post that you submit. Complete anonymity means exactly that.
Sometimes, this stance provides us with a level of worry and anxiety, especially if we are concerned about the welfare of a contributor. We have been known to tweet out, asking users to contact us by email, or in the comments of their post, just so we can confirm they are ok. We also always offer to signpost to agencies who can offer professional support, but understand that this isn’t what many of our contributors want. They want a safe space to be able to share their experience, and have their voices heard, without anyone giving them instructions, or indeed, making suggestions as to the action they should take.
In addition to us sharing the experience of users, we are generating a community – we now have over 2800 twitter followers, lots of whom offer support, advice and sometimes incandescent fury, to those who have experienced abuse who take the step to share their experience with us. We log on, and know the users who retweet every post; we know the users who will always have a listening ear; we know the users who find some of our posts difficult to read, but still share and contribute. We appreciate every single one of them and say a big thank you.
In fact, our campaign would be nothing without them. Without our supporters, we wouldn’t have generated so much interest in our Change.org petition when the Prosecutor in a sexual abuse trial called the victim ‘predatory’. Over 55,000 people signed the petition, and we are expecting to report on the outcome of the CPS internal investigation at the end of September. The attention generated by this was astounding! When we set up the petition, we repeatedly fact checked it over and over (thanks to the journalist who helped us with that!) because we couldn’t quite believe that this statement had been made by prosecution. If the defence barrister had made this remark, we wouldn’t have launched a petition at all, such is the common nature of this type of language in domestic & sexual violence and abuse court cases. An update on this campaign is available here.
What’s next for us? We have plans to do more campaigning – bearing in mind that all of us working on this campaign are employed in other paid roles, or have caring responsibilities, or both. We are working on keeping the website as up to date as we can – we host a page of blog posts about victim blaming, rape culture and violence; we list articles that we think will be useful reference points for our supporters; we link to research on domestic and sexual violence and abuse and most importantly, we host our user posts in order for those who have experienced abuse, to have their voices heard.
If you’d like to offer us any support with the campaign, we would be very grateful. This is what you could do:
● Write posts about your personal and professional experience of victim blaming
● Submit us blog posts that you’ve written about violence against women and children
● Promote us to those who don’t use social media!
● Send us articles or research pieces that you think we should be hosting
● Volunteer to run our twitter account anonymously – we have written a full set of social media guidelines and offer as much support as you need to do this
● Talk to us by email with campaigning ideas and suggestions
● Donate to our campaign – we’re wholly voluntary, and donations will enable us to travel to conferences, speak at organised events and get the message out to the wider public.