Our monthly letter-writing events provide participants with the opportunity to write letters of support to incarcerated survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, and human trafficking. We alternate months where we write to survivors in Indiana and write to survivors who have national campaigns through Survived and Punished. Participants can also write a loved one or hear and select a survivor’s story. All ages are welcome, and participants can join in person or online. In all cases, we will only disclose parts of cases that survivors feel comfortable with.
For the summer, we will be hosting letter-writing nights for incarcerated survivors and volunteer training for supporting local incarcerated survivors. A book club will begin again in the fall of 2022.
These events are held in collaboration with MCPL’s NonProfit Central, New Leaf-New Life, the Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project, All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center, the IU Middle Way House Chapter, and Bloomington PRIDE.
Because support for incarcerated survivors is critical, our prevention program launched monthly letter writing nights in October of 2017. Incarcerated survivors report that receiving letters and cards from the public decreases their risk of violence while incarcerated. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that social connectedness, which letter-writing builds, is a protective factor against violence.
While progress has occurred in the areas of recognizing and addressing domestic and sexual violence, this support often comes to a screeching halt when a survivor defends themselves or their children from an abuser’s violence. It is important to understand that incarcerated survivors, especially incarcerated women, are overwhelmingly survivors of domestic and sexual violence. This violence typically plays a significant role in their incarceration. This is especially true for women of color, individuals who identify as LGBTQ+, and members from other oppressed and marginalized communities. One study in New York’s Rikers Island found the majority of survivors interviewed reported engaging in illegal activity directly in response to experiences of abuse, the threat of violence, or coercion by a male partner. Survivors need healing, not punishment.