When survivors need support, they can face many of the same barriers as baking a cake when you run out of eggs.
- Services could be far away or are hard to reach without a private car
- The time to access these services could interfere with someone’s work schedule or ability to take care of family members
- The cost might be too much, even if the person will be paid back later
- The resources available could be a poor fit for what someone needs or are not well-equipped to handle all identities or cultural groups
- The process to apply for services might be long or complicated, even if the person only needs one specific thing
- Some services have deadlines, enrollment periods, or waiting periods (kind of like the store being closed)
These barriers might prevent people from receiving the services and support they need to heal. Similarly, agencies might offer “substitutions” for what someone says they need, ignoring that person’s ability to advocate for themselves. At Orange County Rape Crisis Center (OCRCC), we constantly seek ways to be a rape crisis center without walls. To achieve this goal, we want to empower survivors to create and define programs that deliver the aid they need the most. We know that mutual aid has been used for decades, both through organized and organic movements. As Dean Spade says, “There is nothing new about mutual aid—people have worked together to survive for all of human history.” Traditional charity relies on wealthy authority figures to provide for groups they see as “worthy.”
But mutual aid builds solidarity by creating spaces where people from diverse life experiences can work closely together on a shared cause. Anyone can receive and provide support, even at the same time. We know that work like cooking meals, helping someone with housework, and visiting people in the hospital is often overlooked. Still, it can make a huge difference in someone’s life after they are impacted by sexual violence.
If you are interested in offering and/or receiving mutual aid, you can fill out our brief survey. We include some basic categories, but you can also write anything you need that is not listed. Once you complete this survey, an advocate from OCRCC will reach out to you within 5 business days to speak to you about the program and collect additional information before making a match.