On Sept. 20, the team at Human Rights and Equity (HRE) at Brock hosted a drop-in Survivor Love Letter Workshop as a part of the meaningful events they planned for Consent Awareness Week 2022.
The incredibly touching Survivor Love Letter Event was meant to serve the students in the Brock community who are allies to or are themselves survivors of sexual assault. Through the power of literature and allyship, students were given the chance to put their emotions on paper, as a way to reflect on their life experiences.
In terms of the inspiration that guided the workshop, the Gender and Sexual Violence Education Coordinator for HRE, Eve Nyambiya, explained that she attended a conference for sexual violence educators in June. There she was introduced to the concept of expressing self love through reflective writing.
That said, the original creator of “Survivor Love Letter” is Tani Ikeda. The social movement she created for survivors has made its way into prominent magazines such as The Huffington Post, and more relevantly, the Brock community through HRE’s workshop.
HRE’s workshop began at 5:00 p.m., and everyone who came into the room was greeted by members of HRE that contributed to the event, such as Eve Nyambiya and Tassia Gabbidon. Once members of the Brock community trickled into the room, the HRE leaders proceeded to do a presentation to guide students through the activity. In terms of the goals set for the workshop, these included embarking in the healing journey, honing one’s creativity, and increasing confidence for survivors.
Following the goal setting part of the presentation, the HRE team made sure to give pointers and useful prompts for students who wanted to self-reflect and write their very own self love letter. Something to note about the prompts that the HRE team came up with is that they were focused on the positive side of survivors’ healing journey, rather than focusing on the pain and suffering that normally arises from traumatic experiences.
Likewise, once everyone settled into the workshop, members of HRE provided those who attended with different paper options to write their letters on, as well as stickers and self-care goodies to take with them. Although the event was on the quiet side, the background lo-fi music and the supportive energy from the students present made for a very peaceful evening.
Moreover, when asked why it is so essential to host events that frame healing as an act of self-love for survivors, Nyambiya said:
“I think that’s one of the more important things for this one [event] because it’s hard for people to love themselves after experiencing events like that–I think it is good to frame it in that sense because there is not a lot of love when you are doing negative self-talk and you’re blaming yourself–I think writing a love letter to yourself is good to validate yourself and make yourself feel better.”
Since self-love can be so beneficial for one’s growth and healing in difficult situations, it makes sense that the HRE team would include an event that represents that within their line up for Consent Week 2022.