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Survivor Dispatch: Reflections on Survivorship, Healing, and Coping in the Time of Covid-19

Kaia has created a podcast about survivorship, healing, and coping in the time of Covid-19. This podcast project is a fantastic resource for survivors!

About Kaia:

Kaia Jackson (they/them) is a community organizer, expressive arts facilitator, and storyteller committed to practicing trauma-informed and healing-centered methods of facilitation. They are passionate about offering one-on-one support, workshops and dialogues on spiritual care, community care and embodied healing. They are a long-time Leadership Team member with Survivor Theatre Project in Massachusetts, which uses theatre to amplify resiliency and healing in survivors and communities through an intersectional anti-oppression lens. They are also celebrating having recently completed an MDiv degree with a concentration in writing and are excited to pour their energy into digital storytelling this year and beyond! You are welcome to contact Kaia with questions or accessibility needs at

About the Project:

Survivor Dispatch: Reflections on Survivorship, Healing and Coping in the Time of Covid-19 is a new podcast that offers listeners short 15-minute reflections and guiding questions on themes that feel relevant to survivor communities in this time of global pandemic. Topics of focus include: Safety, Choices, Access, Uncertainty, Grief and more! While it is grounded in a survivor perspective, it is geared towards any folks and communities with lived experience of trauma or interest in learning more about survivor experience. Upcoming themes will be determined in conversation with listeners and community feedback! Kaia would love to hear your responses, ideas, and further accessibility needs anytime at Transcript requests are also available at this address. Thank you for tuning in!

Episode One Transcript: Safety

Hello, my name is Kaia Jackson, and I’m calling you today on Survivor Dispatch, a reflection on survivorship, healing and coping in the time of Covid. Today I welcome you to join me in reflecting on the topic of safety. Now, safety is a real complex thing, I have a lot of feelings about it, I’m sure you do too. I question, I question, the possibility of safety at any time in any place.

I’ve been very inspired by thinking about the work of Micky Scott Bey Jones, and shifting from conversations around safe space to brave space, and, I’ll probably talk more about than another day, or maybe Micky can share more of her views one day if there’s an interview on here.

But today, I do want to return to the idea of safety because it’s been so foundational to me in understanding what it takes for trauma survivors to get their needs met and to heal from particularly complex experiences of trauma in life. And, going through my undergraduate college, I was really inspired by the work of Judith Herman, her book Trauma and Recovery helped to give me a foundation for understanding the ways forward in healing from my own traumatic background, and one of the things that really stayed with me is the necessity of developing a sense of safety in one’s environment, and in relationship, particularly in relationship is so essential to being able to do the hard work of, of kind of mining the layers that may exist with a traumatic experience, and, holding space for the body to actually go into certain memories and feel its feelings, in whatever context that that may be happening in.

And so, not only the therapeutic relationship between, potentially a client and a therapist which is a more traditional model, but, but with peers, with a romantic partner or partners, in friendship, in chosen family, I have personally found so much of my healing and grounding in life in the context of chosen family and queer friendship, which maybe I’ll talk more about one day as well, but . . .

So, in this time of Covid-19, I have a lot of concern for my survivor sister and brothers (and siblings) out there and I know there are many, who may not have access to a lot of the healing relationships that were sustaining them before, that were supporting their healing process or their coping before. And, and personally I have kind of my own, my own trajectory in this, in this experience of Covid, where, actually my initial experience of the news that I would need to pretty much shelter in place, here in Indiana, and could only go out for essential things, and that my school would be completely online, that my work, which was already largely online would be completely online for a long while.

Honestly, the news of this brought about a sense of immediate relief, and, let me know explain . . .I, I was caught a little bit by this and had to really think about it, but my body had this immediate sense of relief that I didn’t have to go into spaces that were making me feel unsafe, where I didn’t feel like my voice was particularly heard or respected by all participants who were co-creating certain community contexts. And, and the idea of being able to stay home and make my own schedule and check in with my body at my own pace with my own frequency, get up and stretch in the middle of class if I need to, hang out with my sweet pup Apollo who’s so dear to me, all of these things actually made me feel in the immediate sense more safe that I was able to stay home.

And, this gave way to, probably within a couple of weeks, this gave way to a sense of real grief, that the spaces that I had been a part of had not been safe for me to begin with, that there were dynamics there, and harmful forms of communication and silencing ways of being, and un-affirming ways of speaking within, within the cultures of many of the spaces that I was a part of, that, that that was the state of the reality that I was already living in, it was something I already knew, I was very aware of it, but to actually feel the relief of not having to be in those spaces, and having the freedom, the sudden invitation to stay home, which is not usually a choice that I have the capacity to make, from day to day and hour to hour, the fact that that was a relief led me to more of an experience of grief, and grieving the illusion that those spaces had been a little bit safer, that my voice had been, had had more space to be heard, that my emotional experiences and the needs of my body were not valid in those spaces, and were not enough to change certain processes and systems that were at play there. And so that, that is part of my experience when I think about safety.

But then, there, there’s another level of safety, and that is, ya know, being in my house, how, in what ways have I created a safe space for myself, in the bedroom, in the common spaces. In what ways have I neglected, ya know, creating a space that’s really amenable and nurturing to my process, where I really have space to do the things, the forms of self-care that I need to, the embodied and movement-based practices that I feel are particularly healing and helpful for me. And the reality is that the longer I’m in the space the more I’m aware of the ways that I have been, just, uhh, avoiding and, denying that I’ve set up a space here that, that is not particularly, nurturing, I’m not sure if I want to say unsafe, but does in some ways remind me of other times and spaces where I’ve had a similar pile of laundry in an area that is particularly distracting, and that reminds me of other ways that I’ve engaged in spaces, and felt like I didn’t have agency or power in a space, that I needed to just leave that pile of laundry there and pretend it’s not even there- ok, I have laundry issues, I’ll admit, I do, it’s like the last thing on my list all the time, until I run out, so that’s real, but it’s more complicated.

And, ya know I’m grateful to be living with a fellow student and housemate that’s queer-affirming and willing to talk through the things that need to be talked through when we realize that something needs to be talked through, and I’m also aware that that’s not the case for a lot of people, a lot of trauma survivors, are probably, I’m sure, I have no doubt, there are many trauma survivors in situations where they do not have a sense of shared control over the space that they occupy, they do not have the ability to create a nurturing space for themselves, and are actively engaged in unhealthy and unsafe relationships with people that their living, whether that’s in an unhealthy romantic partnership, whether with an unhealthy roommate situation, ya know, the resources that we have for, to develop our living environment are often limited, survivors are often getting by on a thread, and, and to me it is deeply saddening and concerning to think about the survivors across the country who are not safe right now in their own homes, who, are being told by, by, by the CDC and all the officials, that that’s the safest thing for them, and of course, the truth is physically, physically that is quite true, physically they are safe from the virus if they stay home, and yet emotionally and relationally and spiritually, it may be the opposite experience.

And so, I wanna, I wanna name I absolutely think that right now, we need to be sheltering in place, and staying home, and I just want to honor the reality that for many people, they don’t have the privilege of being safe in their own homes, and then there are people who don’t have the privilege of having a home, who are homeless, and my heart also goes out to the homeless folks, who’s traumatic backgrounds, as well as physical needs are not being supported.

And, I’m also thinking about the systemic inequities that, that are a part of the system that we’re living in right now. In the news, I’ve seen different articles just in the past, probably four or five days, where black men are getting targeted. In one case, a black doctor walked out of his home with a mask, and he was getting ready to serve a homeless community, and he gets detained by the police because he’s a black man with a mask. I heard another story where two men were escorted out of a Walmart, two black men who had masks on, so there’s this racial profiling happening. And then I see a video of a black man who doesn’t have a mask on a city bus getting forcibly taken off the bus, because he doesn’t have a mask.

So clearly, we can see that this, this thing, this practice of wearing masks which is absolutely supposed to ensure our collective safety, physically, is actually, in a system like ours, with the inequalities and systemic racism that exists, is actually making people unsafe. And so, again, I’m not saying anybody should choose not to make a mask, or wear a mask, but I am, I just want to name, the fact that at the level of even being able to protect oneself or one’s community, this is not a simple decision, that there’s this, this depth of racial trauma, that is also the backdrop of this experience of Covid-19 in this country.

So, I’m gonna close, I’m gonna close, just, I wanna thank you for tuning in and listening to my thoughts and reflections, and, I also want to encourage you to ask yourself how you’re doing with safety.

Do you feel physically safe or unsafe?

Emotionally unsafe or safe?

Spiritually, how are you doing?

What resources, internal or external, might support your sense of safety in your environment, in your current circumstance?

I see you, I hear you, and I send out to all of you listeners. Thank you, friends.

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