The following is taken from some slides presented at an educational workshop held at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs called “Overview and Myths of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and survivorship.” It was helpful to conceptualize and I think can be applied to a number of other scenarios and movements.
BEING AN ALLY
What is an ally? To be an ally is to unite oneself with another to promote a common interest. People who are allies are not only helpers, but also have a common interest with those who have different identities. In an alliance, both parties stand to benefit from the bond or connection they share.
"Master Status" is the idea that one part of a person’s identity (being a woman, a survivor, a person of color, etc.) defines and explains everything about that person. It doesn’t. Acknowledge the complexity of survivors and take our cues from the individual themselves.
Know and Tell Why If you need to ask something that seems invasive or insensitive, acknowledge this and explain why it’s necessary information to obtain. This is not a way to educate yourself about “those people” or to satisfy your curiosity. Do your homework; take your curiosity elsewhere.
Action. Survivors need to be central to any awareness/prevention effort.
- If a survivor can’t stay through an event or participate fully in the action you are making (usually on their behalf)… then there’s a problem.
- Non-survivor allies sometimes create well-intentioned prevention efforts that totally miss the mark by objectifying survivor’s experiences. (eg. super graphic accounts of oppression with hardly any focus on prevention.)
- Overlooking survivors altogether (in other words, focusing solely on perpetrators, which sometimes leads to over-sympathizing with their “plight.”)
- Keeping survivors centered in our efforts helps us stay on track.