Though the work of Global Rights for Women focuses on systems change and legal form, we believe that in order to do our work effectively, we have to be continuously connected to the voices and experiences of survivors. In a four-part series on trauma-informed skills, Twin Cities, Minnesota advocate and survivor Sarah Super shares her insights on how we can be trauma-sensitive in our support of survivors of gender-based violence. Read on for the third installment in Sarah’s series. Click here for Part One and Two in the series.
In all human relationships, there are expectations that feel healthy to assume: your caregiver should protect you; your spouse or partner should love you; your friend should be supportive of you; even a stranger walking past you on the street should respect you – your space, your body, your human dignity. This is the unspoken human contract for how we should treat each other and be in relationship.
Perpetrators of gender-based violence follow this unspoken contract most of the time, which allows the community to be deceived in believing perpetrators are people worth trusting all of the time. When a perpetrator commits an act of gender-based violence, it is an extreme and horrific deviation from the way they behave with most people most of the time. When they do this, they not only abuse a person’s human rights, but they also betray the very relationship they have with the victim; they betray what it means to be family, to be a friend, a partner, a colleague, a leader, a coach, a teacher, a human being. The victim, who most often knows and trusts their attacker, is left to pick up the pieces when trust is shattered, questioning, “Is there anyone I can trust?”