Sunday, 10 April 2011

Creating a strong network for survivors of abuse on Twitter at #5petals

Over the last few weeks my health has hit some pitfalls, probably caused by having to deal with home visits from dentists then going out to the surgery. As you know, my insomnia has been causing me problems again, and the night sweats are back with a vengeance ... and now a chest infection has taken hold - I have asthma so that's not great - plus I'm struggling with side affects from the antibiotics I'm on to combat the infection. All adds up to me being a miserable girl right now!

Except that oddly, I'm not. Actually, for the most part, I'm feeling kind of happy right now because despite all I've got going on, I've managed to achieve something over that time. I probably pushed myself too hard to do it - but there are some things that are just so worth it!

Though my blogs have been mostly about ME since I began writing here, I'm also a survivor of abuse, and (as much as I'm able to be, given my fairly drastic physical limitations), an abuse activist and supporter of other survivors.

11 years ago, I founded an online support group for survivors of abuse, at a time when there wasn't really any positive places online for survivors to go. I was in an abusive marriage, and I guess began the forum as much for me as for the members we hoped to bring in. Somewhat surprisingly and amazingly, that support forum has continued to thrive over the last 11 years, and is still going strong today! We've had our up's and downs as a forum, but the up's have always been more than the downs, and CS is still a really amazing place to be! We have many loyal staff, some who have been with us almost from the very beginning (!) and many wonderful members! :)

The first time I became bedbound, I had to give up being frontline staff on our forum. I just wasn't able to give our staff and members the kind of consistency & stability they needed - and it was simply too much for me personally. That loss is one of the things I've most grieved for over the years. My role now is much more in the background. I handle the finances, oversee the staff, help determine the direction the community forum goes in, and work on the backend of things in terms of the forum software and website. Basically the jobs that need doing but don't necessarily need to be done on any time scale - so I can fit things in as and when my body lets me. The staff team there have been really amazing at running the forum in my absence and also so supportive of me during these years - though it hasn't always been easy, going from working alongside each other many hours every day - to me popping in and out of things like a yo-yo!

Christian Survivors (CS), our community, was 11 years old this week. What an amazing milestone for an online group! It's one of the things I am most proud of in my life, bringing that group to life and seeing how wonderfully it has sprouted wings and flown - seeing how many people it's touched over the years, and how many lives have been improved by it being there! We cater to survivors of every type of abuse, and have members of any and all faiths and beliefs. This year is bringing lots of changes, as our staff are working on moving to a brand new forum software - our first such move in many, many years - and bringing in some new functionality for the forum, and newq goals for our organisation.

To mark the milestone, myself and my best friend & carer, Jo, who is also a staff member at CS, have been working on a couple of new things to launch there ... and I've managed to get an astounding amount of work done over the last few weeks despite all the up's and down's with my own health! I'm pretty much in crash mode now, lol, and will have to take a complete break for a couple of weeks to let my body calm back down - but it's just so good to actually achieve something!! So worth the push!!

The 5 Petals: Hope, Healing, Friendship, Speaking Out, & Safety! If you're a survivor, or an abuse activist or support agency, please join us on Twitter at #5petalsWhat we've launched this week is a brand new project, based on our organisations' logo (an almond blossom with 5 petals). We've had a brand new version of our logo painted & designed to go along with the project, because we're using the image of the flower to sum up the 5 most important things about CS, & those we believe to be most important for survivors of abuse : Hope, Healing, Friendship, Safety, & Hope. The project we're launching is something we'll be using hopefully many times over the years, to give the survivor community a focus through things such as art projects we can work on together.

Join CS on twitter to network with other survivors & share resources @SurvivorOasisAlong with this, we've launched a Twitter account for our organisation, which we hope to use to reach many survivors, and to network with other similar organisations. As the first & probably the most longterm 5 Petals project, we want to try to help provide a stronger network for survivors & survivor support agencies on Twitter. There are quite a few abuse hashtags on Twitter, but unfortunately most of them aren't used very well by survivors, both because they've been taken over with discussions on things like addiction recovery instead, and because many survivors simply don't know that they're there! So, we're going to be trying to start a new hashtag trend, specifically geared towards survivors and survivor issues, & also providing a place for bloggers and support organisations to network, and for activists to promote abuse issues on Twitter. In addition, CS will be regularly providing links to many great survivor resources all over the internet, including many abuse survivor blogs. If you're a survivor of abuse, or interested in promoting our cause, you can now find us at #5petals & CS's Twitter account is @SurvivorOasis. You can direct message us if you have a survivor blog or website and would like to be considered for us to promote your site.

I'm so excited about this project, though I'm aware it could take a long time and a lot of work to take off - and even more aware that we can't do it alone! If you'd consider working with us either as an individual, a blogger, or an organisation, to strengthen the survivor community on Twitter, please contact me & our team at email us - We'd love to partner with you in some way! You can help in the smallest of ways, simply by letting friends and family know about #5petals, or by officially partnering with CS to get this hashtag going! Sadly, up to 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence at some time in their life, and one out of every five to seven men are sexually abused by the time they reach their eighteenth birthday - so the chances are that you know at least one survivor of abuse, and probably many more.

We're running an event right now where we're asking people if they would be willing to speak out for & to abuse survivors (to help them do the same!) by switching out their twitter avatar for a while, to use one of our #5petals avatars, to change their location on Twitter to #5petals, or to add a button to their website or blog. Doing so could provide a life line for someone you know! I really do believe that we can change things for the better, one person, one act, at a time. If you'd be willing to help out, I'd be really honoured! Please feel free to grab one of the buttons below. I've provided a grab code and a one click add to blogger button, or you can simply right click and download the image to your own computer. :) You can also find different buttons and banners on our website. I'd love to know if you decide to get involved!

"Small acts, when multiplied by millions
of people, can transform the world."
Howard Zinn

Find out about the new #5petals Twitter hashtag for survivors of abuse & abuse activist & support organisations!

Susannah's Signature
I'd love to hear your reply and I know it'll be valued by other readers too! I always try to respond, please just be aware that it can take me some time to find the energy to do so as I've been particularly ill recently and struggling to get online. Thanks for reading! :)



  1. What a beautiful (and long) post! Almost hard to believe you're crashing... ;-)

    11 years is an awesomely long time for an online Community to exist, let alone florish! Congrats for that!

    Hope things start a bit of an upward trend for you this Spring, as they have for me (had one of my longest crashes that started this past Summer. Just starting to feel a little better the past two weeks. :-D )

    Good Luck & many Spoons for you!

  2. Ah, my secret is writing most of my posts loooonnnnng in advance of posting them, lol. I've been writing this one bit by bit the whole time I was working on this project, because I knew I'd want something to post when all was done. All that was left today was to add the links, tags, and post. ;) That's really the only way I've found I can manage to write posts of any real value.

    Thanks so much for reading, and for the congrats - means a lot!!

    I'm so glad you're starting to feel a bit better! Very season appropriate! :) I hope things go on to get better and better!!

  3. I am a survivor of childhood sexually abuse and would be honored to join the community and do what I can to spread the word. I have a blog but have not really written much about my abuse because I still have not told my father about it. I will pray about how I can contribute while working up to the point of telling him. He is a regular contributor to my blog.

    I am actually on my cell phone right now. But I will go get my laptop now and get to work on this now. Thank you for your ministry. You are a blessing to many!


  4. Hi Pam!!

    Thanks so much for your message - did my heart good! I think you're really brave to consider telling your dad. I know that must be a pretty terrifying prospect in many ways. :( Please do let us know if we can do anything to help!

    I checked out your blog - the article on depression is a really good way to come at it. I think so many Christians feel such a deep shame at becoming depressed - to see so clearly that it was true for many people in the bible also is a very powerful message!

    Thanks again for posting!
    Susannah x