Forming a support group

In December 2014 we set up a support group with two comrades of the victim’s political organisation (iL) and two of their flatmates. The aim of our support group was to discuss strategies and take collective responsibility for our actions, such as the publishing of the letter and all of the emails we sent, including those to the perpetrator. By doing this, we attempted to take responsibility from the shoulders of the victim into a collective process.

We started pretty fast, building on the work already done by the victim and one supporter. In our first meeting, we discussed issues of confidentiality, language we wanted to use, aims and mode of our collaboration. Thus, we had not just established the group, but already sketched an agenda. Afterwards, the group members met without the victim in order to talk about expectations, commitment and availability before we started to work. At least one bilateral meeting was held to sort out conflicting perspectives between support group members. 

In a next step, the victim shared her experiences concerning the rape incidents, her relationship with the perpetrator, their social and political context and her efforts of holding the perpetrator accountable. Soon after that we informed two allies from Birmingham and discussed our agenda with them. From now on, the support group, including the victim, met once or twice a month, if need be more often. 

It is usually recommended to split the tasks of the support and the group doing perpetrator work. However, since we were in a different city and none of the people knew the perpetrator, we felt to have enough distance to him to do both. We further wanted to make sure the process did not focus on the perpetrator to not divert attention away from organising a community accountability process in Birmingham.

We kept meeting until a perpetrator contact group was established in Birmingham at the beginning of 2016.