We Serve All Survivors

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We Serve All Survivors

“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”―Audre Lorde

Serve All Survivors

Amidst these turbulent, political times for our nation, we are witnessing a re-surfacing of the collateral impacts of trauma and its residue. Since trauma invokes intense, and often ongoing, physiological impacts and changes to an individual, it not only alters their experience of living in their body, but also reduces their sense of safety in the world. People who have experienced displacement, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, illness, overwhelming medical events, and systematized, identity-based oppression, may continue to carry the residue of those experiences in their minds and bodies for years, decades and generations to follow. This may be due to the evolution of the human organism and how our primal survival responses attempt to keep us safe through hyper-vigilance, it could be related to the ongoing nature of abuse or oppression that prevents our wounds from closing, or it could be that the barriers to accessing supportive resources are simply too vast.

These last few months have been a difficult and highly sensitive time for many people, including survivors of sexual assault. Despite these challenges, our community has shown remarkable resilience by showcasing what is still possible – justice, collaboration, connection, progress and healing.

As fear-based ideologies and threats to deny peoples’ basic human rights rise, we are hearing from distressed and dismayed survivors about how past and present traumas are bubbling up beneath this political landscape. Therefore, it feels urgent to clarify who it is we serve and what it is we believe.

Since our founding in 2012, The Breathe Network’s mission has been to provide sliding-scale, trauma-informed, holistic healing care to all members of our survivor community. Sexual violence impacts every community and identity group, albeit in unique and nuanced ways. Our providers embrace this precious and potent work with people of all races, ethnicities, nationalities, abilities, genders, sexualities, ages and religious or spiritual affiliations. We serve all survivors. Our collective intention is to empower the restoration or perhaps the first cultivation of inner safety, inherent dignity, and bodily sovereignty – qualities and experiences that all people have a right to know intimately in this lifetime. All survivors have a right to feel free in their minds, hearts and bodies, in their homes and in public places, in their places of worship and on their daily commute, at their place of employment and in their relationships – and they deserve that those fundamental rights to freedom and safety be protected. When those rights are at risk, it is incumbent upon all of us to take creative action to determine a path towards justice – which for us includes how we manage our nonprofit and how we best enable our healers to create inclusive healing arts practices.

As an organization, we will continue educating our team – including our practitioner community and our organizational leadership – on the myriad ways we must collectively raise our consciousness and work related to inclusive practices. We will seek out this knowledge from both within and outside of our organization. We will identify tangible ways to demonstrate our firm commitment to meet the layered needs of the most marginalized and vulnerable members of our survivor community – people of color, queer and trans folks, undocumented survivors, those with disabilities, children, homeless and low-income survivors, and religious minorities, among others. We are here for all survivors and we are working hard to diversify our practitioner collective to reflect our very diverse survivor community, thereby creating greater access to the healing arts we offer survivors.

We believe that healing is a right and not a privilege to be limited to a narrow population of people.

We know we still have much work to do.

We founded The Breathe Network in response to the barriers to healing that the majority of survivors face and we strive to dismantle the barriers that continue to exist both within and outside of our organization. We recognize that the people we serve are not only survivors of sexual assault, but more often than not, they are also recovering from or trying to survive other forms of institutionalized violence, trauma and oppression including racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism, colonialism, xenophobia – all of which compound the wounds of sexual violence and complicate the pathway towards recovery.

We are also focused on doing this work of connecting survivors with healers and providing multi-disciplinary trainings on survivor-centered care through increasingly just, equitable and trauma-informed methods. We are examining best practices in social justice education, organizing, training and activism to understand where we still need to grow.

We are in this movement to end sexual violence, to restore dignity and to transform trauma.

When survivors heal, that healing ripples into our families, into our communities, into our workplace, into our political sphere and still reaches further beyond.

The Breathe Network honors, centers and listens to the experiences of all survivors of sexual assault and their communities. We will bolster our commitment to inclusive practices and we will resist bigotry and oppression whenever and wherever we see it. We recognize that we cannot end sexual violence unless and until we also dismantle the other systems of oppression that have allowed it to flourish. All of these forms of harm and the silencing of entire groups of people are historically interconnected and require collaborative partnerships across movements.

Today, we want you to know – whether you are Black, you are queer, you are an immigrant, you are Jewish, you have a disability, you are in substance abuse recovery, you are genderqueer, you are poor, you are chronically ill, you are Muslim, you are a sex worker, you do not speak English as your first language, you are an elderly man, you are a first-year college student, you embody many or none of those identities and you are still so much more– that you matter and you matter to us. We are in solidarity with you and we will resist the normalization of oppression, bigotry and violence alongside you.

We are here for your healing and we believe that healing is possible for you and for all survivors.

We are continually humbled by your trust in the care and support our healers provide to individuals through one on one contact or by facilitating group trainings and workshops. We recognize our tremendous responsibility to uphold the highest degree of standards for our survivor and practitioner community. We are grateful that you have chosen to join us on this complex, necessary and profound journey of individual and collective repair.

As we move further into our manifesting our mission and our vision, we invite and value your feedback, collaboration and engagement along the way.

It is here and now, in this most tender and triggering political, personal and relational space that we can continue to deepen our practices of building resilience – fortifying and embodying our inner vitality through intentional and radical acts of self-care and community-care.

Make no mistake, this phase we are in requires bravery, endurance and importantly, a willingness to allow our hearts to be touched by the pervasive suffering around us in order to catalyze the transformation that must come next. We mustn’t feel daunted as we are in fact, prepared. We have been training through the months, seasons and years of our nonlinear healing journey. As survivors of trauma, these skills – bravery, endurance, and a willingness to keep our hearts open to the wounded ones around us – these are the virtues that our heroic efforts to survive have planted within our tissues and bones. The roots of this kind of resilience may be shaken, yet they cannot be destroyed.

This is the ground we’ve re-built our lives upon and this is where we can lead. This is when we must express our conviction in an even more bold, raw manner. This is where we will continue healing ourselves and healing one another. This is the kind of change – expansive, inclusive and layered, that we can only create with the insight, experience, and presence of all survivors everywhere.

We are in the struggle alongside you. We are working to forge more space for more voices and to hone our own capacity to listen and to continue learning. We will fumble and we will try again. We will fall and we will humbly get back up. We are here for this movement. We are here for survivors. We are here for you.

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