Letter Writing to Incarcerated Survivors

In collaboration with Bloomington Black Lives Matter, New Leaf-New Life, the Midwest pages to Prisoners Project, All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center, the IU Middle Way House Chapter, and Bloomington PRIDE Middle Way House participates in hosting a monthly letter writing night to incarcerated survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Participants can write a loved one or hear someone’s story and send them words of support. All ages are welcome. 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 conectedness, which letter-writing builds, is a protective factor against violence.

Because support for incarcerated survivors is critical, our prevention program launched monthly letter writing nights in October of 2017. While much 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, and this violence plays a significant role in their incarceration. This is especially true for women of color or members from other 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.

This event is held the second Wednesday of each month from 7:00pm-8:00pm. Locations vary depending on the host (follow us on Facebook and Instagram–@middlewayhouse to stay in the loop). For more information, contact lindsey@middlewayhouse.org