Women & Other Survivors: Reclaiming Voice & Power

I am taking the life I was taught to live, taking the life I want to live, and reconciling them to the life I am going to live

API Institute “I am From Poem” Midwest Regional Conference 2005

Survivors’ Resolution

Be it resolved that as survivors of domestic and sexual violence we pledge to:

  • Create leadership from community of victims and survivors to develop policy and legislation;
  • Identify funding sources to support the educational, technological, economic, and artistic empowerment of survivor leadership;
  • Discontinue the use of preconceived and assumed notions of what victims need, and to include perspective of survivors and service providers;
  • Respect the cultural diversity of people impacted by violence;
  • Dispel the stereotyping of battered women;
  • Actively advocate to revise the model of self-help when addressing the needs of immigrant and refugee populations;
  • Include, ensure and increase cultural sensitivity training of staff working with diverse communities;
  • Increase awareness of same race, same culture discrimination by emphasizing compassion and justice in service provision;
  • "Look outside the box": stop referring to a rigid model of feminism to address the myriad complex needs of women;
  • Make women's shelters safe, accessible and comfortable for the lesbian/bisexual/transgender community by eliminating homophobia through education of staff and clients;
  • Create a holistic approach for providing comprehensive services for the multiple and complex needs of battered women;
  • Identify clients as equals by acknowledging and honoring their experience as expertise in all aspects of service provision; and
  • Provide the staff support to create programs that empower victims and survivors.

Hereby affirmed and ratified as our resolution on this day, the 25th of July, 2001, at the Multicultural Forum on Violence Against Women in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Authored by domestic violence and sexual assault survivors at the Multicultural Forum, Puerto Rico, July 2001.

I am From

A Collection of Collective Poems
Crafted from the voices and emotions of survivors and advocates attending meetings convened by the API Institute.

I am From Family…

I am from a closely knit collective family, filled with love, care and security, conflicts, disagreements and shame
I am from a family of survivors and visionaries, a family of fearful immigrants
I am from a traditional, male dominated family, but filled with hugs and kisses
I am from an introspective, loving, giving, defining family, who knew where they came from
I am from many heritages, many of which are unspoken
I am from a family that is matriarchal and patriarchal, that is from the old world and the new world, a world that is strong and fragile

I am From How Others See Me…

I am from stupid, lazy, brown
I am from what I say is not important
I am from every stereotype
I am from always being on the outside

I am From How I See Myself…

I am from cooperation, working as one
I am from dancing, spirituality, parenting
I am from respecting others and others who respect you
I am from mother earth and father sky
I am from ocean waves that bring me peace
I am from a sense of freedom, a freedom that my children also share
I am from feeling safe in my community, free to come and go anytime
I am from independence is possible for women

‘Women & Other Survivors’ refers to victims of gender-based violence and includes survivors who are not women: girls and boys, gay men, straight men, and transgender individuals. It acknowledges that historically women, straight and queer, are disproportionately victims of gender violence and most advocacy work focuses on violence against them.

(Coined by the Praxis/Manavi Advocacy Learning Center)