Unapologetically Surviving

We are so excited to share with you Unapologetically Surviving. It is a platform that was founded by three friends from college. They are making tremendous strides in helping individuals that have experienced abuse find resources and tips.

You can check out their podcast episode here.

But keep reading to learn more about these three beautiful women, their platform and their thoughts around the Me Too Movement!

Why did you start your organization?

In April 2018, we created Unapologetically Surviving with the mission of being a catalyst for the healing process of survivors who have experienced interpersonal violence. After experiencing firsthand the many difficulties survivors experience, we often talked about how one day, twenty years from now, we would advocate for survivors through the lenses of public health and law. Then, one day in April, we thought- “why not now?”

Too often the narrative is focused on the violent act a survivor experiences and seems to ignore everything that comes after. We believe that by sharing stories of healing, survivors will recognize that there is no right or wrong way to heal. In attempting to diversify the conversation around interpersonal violence, we hope to help those who feel their experience is something they must hide or something they should be ashamed of because of how they identify. Every survivor deserves a space where they feel safe to share their experience – we hope Unapologetically Surviving can be that space.

What would be the best way one could find out more information about your organization? 

The best way to stay up-to-date is to subscribe to our blog at unapologeticallysurviving.com! We also post daily inspiration on our Instagram (@unapologeticallysurviving)!

Out of everything that you do with your organization, what would be the first area you would recommend a survivor to turn to. 

We always recommend that survivors first make sure that they are okay, so an individual can start by visiting the “Find Help” page on our website. There, they can access hotline numbers and a list of resources for survivors of interpersonal violence. From there, they can learn more about us, read our content, and join the community that we’ve built - but the first thing that they need to do is take care of themselves!

What impact do you hope to make?

Tori: We want to help individuals feel confident to know that there are people who believe them, support them, and are rooting for them to not only survive, but also thrive. Through our community, we want to ensure that no survivor feels alone. We can always see an impact when a survivor tells us we’ve made a difference to them.

Brittany: We also aim to have a community that is inclusive, where survivors of all walks of life can see themselves represented and all voices are heard.

What advice do you have for survivors?

CC: It gets better but healing is not linear. Healing is worth pushing through.

Tori: I think most importantly knowing that you are not alone. Reach out to friends and family and lean on them when you need support.

What help if any do you offer for survivor’s family and friends? 

CC: As part of our upcoming educational series, we’re hoping to put together some material about supporting a survivor but making sure you take care of yourself too.

Brittany: Family and friends of survivors may benefit from visiting the “Learn More” tab of our website in order to gain a more nuanced understanding of what their loved one is experiencing. I believe that knowledge truly is power. However, I also think it is so important to understand that sometimes the best thing for you to do is just be there and remember it is not about you! When someone shares their experience with you, the most important thing you can do is believe them. Everything else is appreciated, but not required.

How important do you think it is to establish a support system? 

CC: In my personal experience, vital but that’s not to say that someone who doesn’t feel that they can share their experience with anyone will not be able to heal.

Tori: It is probably the most important thing a survivor could have.

What do you do when you're not running your organization?

CC: I’m currently a law student so most of my time is spent studying. When I’m not focused on school, I enjoy spending time with my dogs and going to the gym.

Tori: I’m currently a law student and I will graduate in May. When I’m not studying, I like to bake and do a little yoga to relax.

Brittany: I serve as a sexual assault response advocate at a university. In my free time, I love to read (and watch) psychological thrillers, travel, and go to brunch!

What inspires you to keep going?

CC: Seeing the impact that our website and Instagram have on our readers/followers; messages that we’ve helped people feel less alone or that they finally feel understood keep me going.

Tori: I think knowing that we are helping people and making a difference to survivors.

Brittany: I am inspired every time I read a message from a reader or follower on Instagram. One person shared that they loved that we offer survivors “agency and radical compassion”, which really touched me.

What advice do you have for someone that wants to help others heal?

CC: It is just as important to take care of yourself as it is to help a survivor. Take time for yourself to recharge as needed.

Brittany: Be patient (with the other person and yourself!) and always lead with empathy. Healing journeys are not easy and are rarely linear. Understand that the person you are supporting will have good and bad days, but as long as you are there to lift them up, you are doing great!

What struggles did you face when starting your organization?

CC: I threw myself into US so much during the beginning that it became a bit all consuming. Learning to take a step back to prioritize my mental health, as needed, was difficult but essential.

Tori: Figuring out our vision and making sure that we had a comprehensive, intersectional message. It honestly took a lot of learning for at least me personally to get caught up on different issues facing different communities.

Brittany: Finding balance and combatting compassion fatigue. This work is incredibly rewarding, but reading so much heavy stuff can definitely take a toll. I learned the importance of taking my own advice and implementing some self care time into my week.

With the #MeToo movement and more attention given to sexual abuse, harassment, and assault, what messages do you hope will rise to the surface? What are the most important takeaways? 

CC: I hope people remember that survivors are people too and that justice looks different for everyone.

Tori: I think that so much is being lost in the conversation about the perpetrators and justice against them compared to focusing on the experience of the survivors. It is important that survivors have justice, but is also equally, if not more important, that survivors are heard and believed first.

Brittany: Part of listening to survivors is recognizing their humanity. Often, systems that are built to help survivors so often re-victimize them.

Do you think mental health is being addressed, in relation to rape survivors and in general, effectively in the US? Where do you think there's still room for improvement? 

Brittany: Unfortunately, in the US, there is still much work to be done in the mental health field in general. I think we need a better understanding of how trauma affects the body both immediately after an event and many years later. I also feel that we can improve access to mental health services for underserved communities and encourage more diversity in the mental health field.

With #MeToo and #TimesUp, what impact do you feel they have made and how have they impacted you?

CC: They’ve made it so that, as a culture, we can have a conversation that we may not have had as seriously or in depth a few years ago. While it’s good that these conversations are happening, it can be overwhelming sometimes when people who haven’t experienced harassment/assault/abuse think they know more about the impact on a survivor than actual survivors.

Tori: I think #MeToo and #TimesUp really changed the conversation and brought something that was lurking beneath the surface and unspoken to a mainstream conversation.

Brittany: I definitely think these hashtags laid the foundation for the platform we have today. It showed us the importance of survivors being in community with other survivors, not only for support but for validation as well.

One of Voices of Hope's campaign is called #BeAVoice. How can you be a voice for those that feel they are silenced?

CC: Believing survivors and respecting their autonomy in sharing (or not sharing) their story.

Tori: One of the main reasons we started this organization was to highlight other peoples’ voices and stories. We try to make sure everyone that asks us to share their story feels heard and amplified.

What is exciting and upcoming for your organization? 

We are thrilled to introduce Educational Series to our website. Our aim is to provide readers with information about new topics or areas of discussion related to interpersonal violence and healing. We encourage our readers to recommend topics that they’re interested in and would like people to know more about. We are also starting a feature on our Instagram Story, where we share a follower question every Friday!

What is the best way to get in touch with you?

One of our favorite things about US is connecting with our community members, so we accept messages at any time via Instagram DM or email (unapologeticallysurviving@gmail.com)! If you’d like to submit a survivor story anonymously, you may use the Google Forms, which are conveniently linked at the bottom of each page on our website.

What are your social media handles?

Unapologetically Surviving is on Instagram @unapologeticallysurviving - come visit us & say hello!

Unapologetically Surviving was co-founded by three college friends: Brittany, CC, and Tori. Through the lenses of public health and law, they created US with the intent to become a community where survivors of violence and abuse are believed, supported, and validated. US has been a way for us to stay connected with each other as we’ve moved on from college over an issue that’s important to all of us.

Unapologetically Surviving was co-founded by three college friends: Brittany, CC, and Tori. Through the lenses of public health and law, they created US with the intent to become a community where survivors of violence and abuse are believed, supported, and validated. US has been a way for us to stay connected with each other as we’ve moved on from college over an issue that’s important to all of us.

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