Girls and women who have survived violence are increasingly marginalised and silenced by the very services set up to support them, say Sophie Taylor and Davina James-Hanman from the AVA Project
The movement to stop violence against women and girls was instigated and led by survivors, determined that others should not suffer as they did. As the women’s movement grew in the 1970s, consciousness-raising groups allowed women to discuss their experiences with each other and share the reality of their lives; this process gave women the opportunity to see connections between their experiences and to begin to identify these as systemic discrimination rather than as individual failings.
Gradually, survivors began using their experiences to initiate positive change. They created organisations, started services, raised awareness, instigated campaigns and got an ear to government. Until the early 1990s, very few paid roles existed within the sector (and most of these were as refuge or rape crisis centre workers), and it was still a very survivor-led movement.