Community Guidelines for Holding Brave Space
This work has been created by the labor and ingenuity of survivors of sexual harm, the vast majority of whom are Black and Brown people. Under Creative Commons licensing, the Survivor Alignments can be shared and distributed, but must be credited to Surviving the Mic and linked back to http://www.survivingthemic.org.
- Surviving the Mic programming, including open mics, writing workshops and guided conversations, is considered brave space, meaning that the audience and any participants and facilitators are expected to listen with compassion and all boundaries must be respected, especially physical. Consent should never be presumed, especially when it comes to touching – including hugs, holding hands, pats on the shoulder, or high-fives. Even if you’re best friends or in a relationship, because we are here to discuss sexual harm and practice consent, the expectations in this space are to always ask for consent. It is better to ask and feel awkward, than to touch and trigger. For virtual programming, consent should also never be presumed, including when it comes to direct messaging other participants on the call. If you wish to reach out to someone privately on or after the call, please seek consent at the beginning of the interaction. Even if you’re best friends or in a relationship, because we are here to discuss sexual harm and practice consent, the expectations in this space are to always ask for consent. It is better to ask and feel awkward, than to overstep and trigger.
- This is a brave space. We do not use trigger warnings. In terms of triggers, there is no way that people will not be triggered in the space, as folks are sharing stories that they need to tell that might use language or imagery that could be triggering. We are not so presumptuous to assume that we can predict every person’s triggers. Trigger warnings can unintentionally validate certain triggers while discrediting others.
The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, now known as VALOR-US, has published some insight on trigger warnings. Instead we provide resources and support, and strongly encourage you to do whatever you need to take care of yourself. We have crisis counselors and a digital resource guide and interactive map (both are updated monthly) for first response to trauma. Feel free to take a break and come back when you’re ready. If you need to leave the session and return at a later date, we honor that.
- We default to documentation and support survivors in shaping their own narratives. That being said, we respect autonomy and privacy. We will not publish without your permission and you retain rights to your work. Please let us know if we have consent to document you. We announce if we intend to record or screenshot any moment of a virtual session in order to give people the option of turning off their cameras. We also do not share lived experiences or quote writing for social media posts without direct consent from the survivor who shared. If programming is in person, you can let us know if we do or do not have documentation consent on the sign-up sheet, let an StM team member know, or say so on the open mic. If programming is virtual, you can direct message any StM team member in the chat and let us know that way. You can also email confirmation of consent or lack of consent via firstname.lastname@example.org.
- When you get on the mic, we encourage you to introduce yourself to the Surviving the Mic family (by your stage name, nickname, or proper name), invite you to tell us your pronouns, and whether we have consent to document you. When programming is virtual, you can do all of the above during the intro section of the session.
- Marginalizing and oppressive language is not ok. This means any language that is racist, transphobic, homophobic, sexist, ableist (including language that stigmatizes those navigating mental illness), sizeist, ageist, classist, victim-blaming or slut-shaming that is directed towards a specific person or group is unacceptable. We consider such language abusive and will not support the use of it in any of our spaces. Participants may share work that recounts a lived experience with such language and that is ok. Work that is gratuitously violent or hypersexualized may cause an StM team member to direct message you or ask you to step out in order to take a moment to consider the use of such language and its value in our space. Surviving the Mic believes in restorative justice and knows that expressions can show up in ways that may be difficult for other participants and the facilitators. It is always our aim to call in people gently who may use language or expression that could be felt as harmful to others in the space, regardless of intention, in order to provide opportunities for self-awareness and accountability.
- We want this to be a space where people can be vulnerable but we also want to care for and respect that vulnerability. The intention is to give space to people speaking poetry to power, telling the truths they need to tell. We will never dig into your lived experience or ask for any more than what you offer to share. In other words, we don’t dig into people’s trauma, we do not ask questions about details and we do not fact-check peoples’ personal experiences.
- We consider anything that’s shared in our session to be an incredible act of bravery and generosity. We also respect that the expression of a lived experience of trauma may show up as poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction or any combination of any literary or performance genre. All expressions are welcome. If it appears that you may be having a hard time during a moment of expression, we may opt to direct message you to ask if you’d like to join a breakout room with a certified crisis counselor.
- If you’re participating in one of our writing workshops, you have the ability to tell us what kind of feedback you’re looking for when it comes to other participants who may comment on your work. You also have the power to say that you’d like to not receive any feedback, if that’s something that doesn’t feel helpful.
- We are LGBTQ friendly and accessible to neurodivergent folks, folks who have difficulty navigating stairs or who use a wheelchair, etc. If you find Surviving the Mic inaccessible to you, please let us know how we can best accommodate you at email@example.com.