Holding Space For Survivors & Allies of Sexual Violence


TW: MH. This story has discussion around sexual violence. We invite our community members to read this if it’s the right time for them. We have also included resources for support below.

This Q& A is an excerpt from a two part series, where Unsinkable Council Member Caroline & Unsinkable Community Champion Pamela interview Barbie on how to hold space for survivors of sexual violence and allies through conversation and support.

Q:  If somebody is really anxious or really nervous and has found a resource but is scared to make the first step. Do you have any tips for somebody to make that first step?

A: I would say that if you feel anxious, know that you’re not the only one who’s been through that feeling. And, that it’s perfectly fair and perfectly understandable to be feeling whatever it is you’re feeling. If you are reaching out to someone like myself or any other resource, know that it’s a safe place to share, whatever it is you need to share, no judgement. There’s no judgement here at all, your story is your story and it’s true and it’s valid.

Q: If somebody is an ally and sees somebody that they know is struggling, but doesn’t want to overstep, do you have any advice and tips for an allies point of view?

A:  that’s a really important question, I think that it’s really important for the ally to understand that the person who’s going through something needs to have space held. You can offer a suggestion, but you have to be very tuned in with the response and the energy that they’re coming to you with. So maybe a check in, you can ask “what’s coming up for you today?”. “How are you feeling today?”. “What can I do for you today?” But leave it in their hands to offer to you what they’re looking for, rather than you pushing to them what you can offer, because it may not be what they need in that moment.

Q:  Because this is a body violation as well as a soul and a spirit violation . When you talk about what people may need and listening to their body. Can you speak to what that means?

A: Yes, of course.  Have you ever had a lump in your throat? Yeah, everybody’s had a lump in their throat, I’m going to tell you though, you don’t actually have a lump in your throat. It’s an energy.  Or maybe you’ve felt a pit in your stomach, you don’t have a pit in your stomach, it is a message your body is sending to you.

For me, and everybody feels it in different places, when something’s not feeling good for me, my stomach squeezes, and I ask myself, “what do I need right now? because this clearly isn’t working?”.  I don’t want to feel squeezed, I want to feel ease!  Becoming aware of what really feels right to you. And this doesn’t come quick. This is a process and, but it’s something to learn, because, you know what feels right for you and your voice matters. Your voice matters and you are worthy of saying it. Your voice matters, and people need to hear you.

Watch Part 1 Here

& Part 2 Here

If you need support, please visit @rainn. @kidshelpphone and @crisistextline are also always available

Barbie is a Maternal Empowerment Coach, heart-centered Wise Woman and Healer, Barbie offers a safe and love filled space, as she guides Women through healing Generational Wounds, to reclamation of Soul purpose and truth. She is an UNteacher of impacting Societal messages, and a perspective shape shifter as she guides and supports release of fears and limitations, and walks with you on your path to reclaim your truest version of YOU! You can access Barbie’s services & find her at barbieliss.com


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