Survivor Voices: The Art of Survival - Amy's Story
Today, on International Women’s Day, we are honoured to launch Amy’s Story, a powerful and moving personal story of courage, empowerment, healing and hope. Amy, who has accessed our service for support, is passionate about telling her story in the sincere hope that it helps other women affected by sexual violence and domestic abuse. Amy’s wish is to share voice, strength and solidarity with other women who are experiencing abuse. She wants you to know you are not to blame, and that you are not alone.
As a service we understand the complexities of abusive relationships and we support any survivor regardless of their situation. Survivors tell us they may fear or have experienced being judged, disbelieved and/or blamed for the abuse they have experienced or are experiencing.
The only person who is EVER responsible for sexual violence and abuse is the perpetrator- the person who has committed it.
If you are affected by sexual violence, in any way, whether recently or in the past, Rape Crisis is here for you. We provide free and confidential support, which is tailored to your needs, and you are always in control of what you share with us.
We are here to listen to you, support you, believe you and respect you. Your feelings are valid, and you are enough.
The Art of Survival - Amy's Story
Pushed out, locked out, I walked, barefoot, without clothes,
into the night. Someone gave me a blanket. Someone gave me space in a caravan. It was so cold I’d wake in the morning with my ear frozen to my pillow. I had no food for three days, no gas to heat the space or make a cup of tea. A neighbour, also down on his luck, offered me hot tea one day. As he pottered about in his caravan, brewing a drink, he gave me tips on how to manage this kind of life.
‘You’ll learn it’, he said. ‘The art of survival.’
I went back that time. Why? We all find reasons to go back.
‘He disnae mean it’ ‘He needs me’ ‘He says he’ll change’ ‘It was my fault because I didn’t have the tea ready, have his clothes sorted, have his…’ ‘He bought me a lovely bag and said he was sorry’
‘He needs me.’
‘It was my fault.’
What does it take for us to realise that the art of survival isn’t about going back for more beatings, more abuse, more humiliation, more rape - it’s about building the life we deserve.
Apart from abuse. Apart from him.
That takes courage. But we need to do it.
I met Jane (not her real name) in a refuge. She had been beaten and thrashed by her man. She blamed herself for his behaviour. She took responsibility for his actions. Three times she came to the refuge, battered. Three times she went back. That last time - he killed her.
I can’t stop thinking about Jane. This is why I need to tell my story. If I can support one other person not to be killed by an abusive partner, my dream will have come true.
The final straw, my awakening if you like, came when I woke up in a wheelie bin, with cracked ribs and a dislodged eye. I realised I’m gonna end up dead. I realised all his promises - I’ll change; I canna live without you - were just emotional blackmail.
He never changed and never would, and if I kept going back, next time I wouldn’t wake up at all.
He said he couldn’t live without me. I thought I couldn’t manage without him. He got under my skin, into my head, until I couldn’t think for myself. Till what he told me was more real than what I knew about myself.
After waking up, literally broken, in a wheelie bin, I realised, I’m nae a bad person. It’s nae me that’s doing it. It’s him.
So I want to say to you:
As a woman you deserve better
As a woman, you have help - go to a refuge, speak to Rape Crisis - find the people who believe in you so you can learn to believe in yourself
Reach out to other women. Hear other people’s voices telling you that you matter until you hear your own voice agreeing. I carried this inside me, inside my brain and body for 20 years. Then Rape Crisis helped me. I don’t want you to go through what I went through.
We are not responsible for our man’s actions
We are responsible for ours
Get help. Help is there
Stay alive - in a good life
In a life you deserve
I’ve taken back the power
Now you take back yours
If you wish to download this story for printing you can do that here:
OUR SURVIVOR VOICES CAMPAIGN
Moray Rape Crisis is founded as a service on the need to provide a space for survivors’ stories to be held and heard, whether it be through providing safe, respectful therapeutic spaces for survivors to tell their stories in their own words and at their own pace, or through activist campaigns calling for justice, change and an end to sexual violence and gender inequality.
Survivors tell us that being able to give voice to their story, to speak their truth, whether through poetry, writing, art, or whatever means feels authentic and safe for each survivor, helps lessen the shame, stigma, and sense of aloneness they have carried, and often felt silenced by, perhaps for many years. Our Survivor Voices campaign aims to honour the power of survivor voices in creating change, both individually and societally.
The power of survivors coming together, building connection, speaking out and standing together in solidarity can never be underestimated. Social movements are formed of it. Change happens because of it.
WHAT IS SEXUAL VIOLENCE?
Sexual violence means any form of unwanted sexual contact. You may hear different words for the varying forms of sexual violence such as rape, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse or sexual harassment. Other forms of sexual violence include stalking, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, image based abuse and organised and ritual abuse.
The diagram here shows a number of the different forms of sexual violence.
Everyone is affected differently by sexual violence. There is no right or wrong way to feel. How you feel, and what you want to do, depend on your own experience.
The impacts of sexual abuse experienced by people are often far-reaching across all aspects of their lives, including emotional, mental and physical health, social and family relationships, and education and employment.
NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENED, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT
Whatever happened, no matter what you were wearing or how you were behaving, you are not to blame. If someone has harmed you, it is not your fault. The person who harmed you is responsible.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Sexual violence causes people significant trauma and distress. If you have been affected by any form of sexual violence, no matter when it happened, you do not have to cope with this on your own.
At Moray Rape Crisis, we offer free, confidential and non-judgemental emotional support. These sessions can take place either face-to-face, online or by phone.
We support people of any gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religious and cultural background regardless of someone’s immigration status and we are fully inclusive of trans survivors.
We listen, we believe, and we treat everyone with respect.
HOW TO REFER TO US
You can contact us for support for yourself or for someone else in your family or someone you know, ask a parent, friend, agency, GP or college to refer you. Our referral form is in English, Polish & Easy Read and you can download it here in English, Polish & Easy Read.
Moray Rape Crisis is a confidential service that is independent from social services, the police, and other official agencies. We will not tell you what to do or judge your actions.
Our normal office hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
- Call: 01343 550 407
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
OTHER USEFUL CONTACTS
You can also contact the Rape Crisis Scotland National Helpline, each day from 5pm to midnight:
More information in Polish about the Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline can be found here.
If something has happened recently, you can contact the Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS). This is an NHS service for anyone aged 16 and over which can offer healthcare and support after an assault. If you are unsure whether you want to report to the police, the SARCS service may be able to arrange for you to have a forensic medical examination without reporting to the police. You can self-refer by phoning 0800 148 88 88 (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). You can find out more information at www.nhsinform.scot/sarcs More information in Polish can be found here.
OUR CAMPAIGNS AND ACTIVISM
We believe in taking action to change attitudes and to improve services and responses for people who have experienced sexual violence. Here's how you can help end sexual violence.
You can get involved and help end sexual violence by:
- Believing someone who discloses sexual violence or abuse to you
- Supporting them to make their own choices about what they want to do
- Challenging abusive and sexist behaviour
- Donating to Moray Rape Crisis to help us provide our frontline services (here)
- Reading more about feminism, gender-based violence & trauma. Some of our suggested reads can be found here.
- Join us online and follow our campaigns to raise awareness of and prevent sexual violence.
You can check out our latest campaigns here. You can take action too by supporting and sharing our campaigns, making a donation or fundraising for us. We keep our social medias updated with all of our latest work and campaigns.
We are an intersectional feminist organisation meaning we understand how different oppressions converge and we know this impacts each survivor differently. We support people of any gender, race, sexual orientation, disability and religious and cultural background.