is there a healthy way to do this work? is the idea of there being certain people whose role it is to support survivors of domestic abuse just inherently fucked up?
i can feel that this is doing some damage, that i'm slowly burning out, that when i finally grind to a halt i'm going to need to do some work on myself to unpick what it's done to my mind and habits and by extension my health. i don't have the same energy for the work at all any more, and as soon as i started to admit this to myself the tiredness came on worse. we can ask for a few counselling sessions when things really get a bit much (clinical/therapeutic supervision really needs to be part of our work, but it ain't) and i did so recently. the counsellor pointed out to me that when i started doing this i was six years younger and full of youthful (and naive) feminist drive which has almost run dry. she said that every woman i'd supported had "taken a little bit" of energy from me and, obviously, not given it back. hmm. a strange model, a strange thing to do. is there any other way?
yes, communities should have this knowledge. it's not rocket science. i have got a really good understanding of this stuff after six years but to believe in 'experts' in this field, especially non-survivor 'experts' like myself, is pretty Wrong. to return to the quote that i started this blog with:
"I am not proposing that sexual violence and domestic violence will no longer exist. i am proposing that we create a world where so many people are walking around with the skills and knowledge to support someone that there is no longer a need for anonymous hotlines..."
Rebecca Farr of CARA, in The Revolution Starts at Home zine produced by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence.
and what's more, and bearing in mind that voluntary sector DV work is emphatically not activism, it is nonetheless supposedly about creating change:
"The 'activist' is a specialist or an expert in social change - yet the harder we cling to this role and notion of what we are, the more we actually impede the change we desire. A real revolution will involve the breaking out of all preconceived roles and the destruction of all specialism - the reclamation of our lives. The seizing control over our own destinies which is the act of revolution will involve the creation of new selves and new forms of interaction and community. 'Experts' in anything can only hinder this."
From Give Up Activism zine.