Monday, 22 February 2010


argh. back to work after a little time off and i can feel the unhealthy symptoms in me already. this is fucked up! it's like i can get on a roll when i'm working hard for weeks on end and don't notice so much but returning after (not enough) time off feels awful.

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..."

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.


  1. thank you thank you thank you! after five years I'm really starting to feel this way too, and wondering what is next... I love your blog. I wish I could write about how I'm feeling about this work with such power and eloquence. maybe I should just try, I know.

  2. this is so deeply important. specific people, you, taking (or being given) responsibility for trauma moves a community away from interdependence even if it is amazing, necessary work in the short term. it is incredible how well you put this.

  3. thanks annie :) i'd love to read what you think about doing similar work, i'm hungry for other people's thoughts and ideas, hence doing this blog, plus it might help keep you sane to debrief, it does help me... dare ya!

    and, countrypunk, you have cut directly to the Point, and blown my mind (and saved me another week or two of "something's... wrong" confusion). thank you.