Activist Trauma Gathering in London

IssueFebruary 2006
Comment by Martin Shaw

The Activist Trauma Network is organising a day of discussion and networking on 4 February for all those involved in promoting practical mutual support in activist, campaigning and community groups.

We are planning to discuss our own chosen work in these areas and expand on ideas for projects, make new contacts and give/receive constructive feedback. For too long we have ignored the psychological impact of violence inflicted on activists in the course of their actions. We need to be prepared, both individually and as a movement: as we become more effective the state is very likely to become more repressive and violent.

Violence from the police, security guards or even members ofthe public can have long term psychological effects that go on hurting long after the physical injuries heal. People with visible “simple” physical injuries often receive lots of sympathy and support - it is the hidden mental damage that can go unnoticed. However, when recognised, there are various types of treatment available: one of the roles of activist trauma support is to provide unbiased advice about the different types of treatments and support.

People are often not that surprised if they are attacked by agents of the state, but what can be much more damaging is a lack of support afterwards. Aftercare and support can make the difference between people overcoming their hurts and fears and continuing to campaign even more determinedly or, in the worst case, feeling so disempowered that they drop out of the movement completely.

The gathering (see below) on 4 February is to continue the work of the activist trauma group that started in Scotland at the G8 meeting. We are trying to form a network of people around the country who are able to offer support - and/or know where to access local services that are sympathetic or at least understanding about activism and activist issues.

This network is in its embryonic stages and if you would like to get involved in shaping the future of this overlooked part of our movement please come along to the meeting or contact us. Gathering workshops include

  • An introduction to the Activist Trauma Network.
  • Are we well enough ourselves to do this work? Discussion.
  • Supervision: what is it?
  • Dealing with the mental health system
  • How can we improve the activist-trauma website?