Creating Change with Lived Through This


10 ways individuals, academic institutions, and agencies are using Lived Through This: Listening to the Stories of Sexual Violence Survivors.

1. Educating a new generation of leaders.

Women’s Studies departments, Schools of Social Work, and Public Policy programs at colleges and universities in the US have used Lived Through This to educate on the issue of gender-based violence. Most recently, Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy Professor Danny Cohen created a course focused on sexual violence, using Lived Through This as a foundational text. According to Professor Cohen, “This book generated some of the most impassioned, important conversations my students have engaged in about gender-based violence. I will absolutely be teaching Lived Through This moving forward.”

2. Raising awareness and creating new allies in the US Military.

The sexual assault preparedness and response office at Dover Air Force Base hosted a 2015 sexual assault awareness month luncheon focused on stories from Lived Through This. Additionally, the base distributed 250 copies of Lived Through This to enlisted personnel at and after the event. Lived Through This is also being used as a training resource for the base’s first responders, crisis counselors, and SAPRO team.

3. Making the issue of trafficking not only political, but also personal.

At a recent meeting of the San Diego Anti-trafficking Task Force, copies of Lived Through This were distributed to every member of the group. With its emphasis on the links between sexual violence and trafficking, and the inclusion of a story about a US-based trafficking and prostitution survivor, Lived Through This puts a face and voice on an issue that is most often seen as global, not local.

4. Training a survivor-focused, trauma sensitive first responder team.

Lived Through This has been used to educate rape crisis center counselors and volunteers, first responders, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, and prosecutors. “This book was so instructive for me,” noted a SANE nurse who purchased the book at the 2014 End Violence Against Women International Conference in Seattle, WA. “It reminded me that the little things we do when a survivor discloses her story to us can change lives, for good and ill. It really put me in the shoes of the survivor.”

5. Creating change/Creative change.

The creative applications for Lived Through This are as important as the practical ones. A special edition of The Feminist Lens–the groundbreaking WFMT radio program–features stories from the book, alongside the work of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynne Nottage and V-Day Founder Eve Ensler. If you are interested in partnering with a local theater group to do a series of readings, email

6. Providing hope and inspiration to survivors.

Crisis Centers and DV shelters across the US are encouraged to use Lived Through This in survivor support groups and themed reading groups. It is also an important resource for family members and friends of survivors. “We keep our organizational copy of Lived Through This in the waiting area of our center,” an advocate in Little Rock, Arkansas notes. “That tells everyone who comes through these doors that our work is for and about survivors.”

7. Raising awareness, generating funds.

The Voices and Faces Project, in partnership with retailer Alice and Olivia, recently co-hosted a “fund and friend raiser” that featured a local actress reading from Lived Through This. Key chapters in Lived Through This focus on specific themes. Consider doing a Lived Through This reading that addresses the needs of your organization, followed by a moderated discussion.

8. A special writing workshop selection.

Lived Through This is an official reading selection for “The Stories We Tell," the country’s first testimonial writing program for survivors of gender-based violence. According to workshop co-creator R. Clifton Spargo, “This book exemplifies the power of testimony, and the role that individual stories can play in creating social change. Reading it helps the writers in our program think about the many - and often very different–ways that a survivor’s story can be told.”

9. Talking testimony.

Stories from Lived Through This have been used to educate students and faculty at the Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies on writing about the injustices they’ve lived through or witnessed. At the Buffett Center, author Anne K. Ream spoke directly to the student and faculty audience about her book and her philosophy of story sharing. Nicole Patel, Program Manager at the Buffett Center, noted that stories from Lived Through This “enlightened students to the possibilities of using storytelling to make a difference not only in their upcoming work abroad, but also in their lives upon returning home.”

10. Reaching communities of faith.

Through a unique partnership with Tearfund, a UK-based United Nations NGO focused on connecting communities of faith to pressing social justice issues, Lived Through This has been distributed to a group of survivors who are speaking out as part of an African-based outreach program that was piloted in Durban, South Africa, and will be bringing the book to Rwanda and DRC. Additionally, the Ocean Hills Church in Montecito, CA, built an entire worship service around the issue of sexual violence, featuring stories and photos from The Voices and Faces Project and Lived Through This.

How are you using Lived Through This to challenge and change the world? Tell us at:
To find out more about having a Lived Through This speaker at your next event, or to order bulk copies of the book, email:


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