Registration now open for Clear Lines 2017

Clear Lines Festival to Address Sexual Assault and Consent Through Art, Comedy & Panel Discussions Bringing Testimonies Forward

Not the Booker prize winner Winnie M Li and activist Tania Mendes announce full line

In the midst of the #MeToo movement and a growing public awareness around sexual misconduct, a dedicated group of volunteers are bringing back Clear Lines Festival for its second edition, taking place from 1st to 3rd December 2017 at Rich Mix in London.Clear Lines brings together a lively line-up of artists, speakers, activists, survivors, academics, and therapists to address sexual assault, abuse, and consent through the arts and discussion.The festival aims to replace the shame and stigma around these issues with insight, understanding, and community.
Winnie M Li, Artistic Director of Clear Lines, is herself a rape survivor and author, whose novel Dark Chapter recently won The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2017. She set up Clear Lines in 2015 with psychologist Dr. Nina Burrowes and a group of volunteers, including Tania Mendes, Festival Director.
Winnie M Li said:
“There is something so isolating about the aftermath of sexual violence, and victims often feel they should stay silent because no one wants to hear their stories. But #MeToo has proven how many stories are out there, and how they need to be heard. With Clear Lines, we’re trying to collectively devise creative ways of storytelling, healing and challenging rape culture. Through the arts and comedy, we can bring to life the human side of these experiences, in ways that emotionally reach audiences and lead to connection and understanding.”
This year’s programme includes award-winning comedians Sara Pascoe and Tiff Stevenson, New York Times best-selling novelist Marti Leimbach, psychologist and policy consultant Dr. Nina Burrowes. Theatre, film screenings, stand-up comedy, and spoken word all feature in artistic showcases, alongside Q&A discussions about art and the lived experience of gender-based violence.
Run entirely with crowdfunding and the good will of those involved, the festival was started in 2015 by a small group of activists, artists, and therapists who felt a space was needed to talk openly and honestly about experiences of sexual assault and abuse.Now, with #MeToo trending, they feel that space is needed more than ever.
Tania Mendes, Festival Director, said:
“Clear Lines provides the space to tackle what can be the difficult subject of consent and sexual assault, whilst currently sitting alongside the momentum currently seen with the #MeToo campaign, we hope that more people will be open and come forward to listen and contribute to this discussion. There isn’t a single voice or experience.The goal is to make a festival like Clear Lines redundant in the future. But for now, this platform is needed and we’re calling out to everyone to take part in a problem that impacts and is entangled within all of society. There is a shift in attitude and we need to embrace it and collectively ask ourselves how we can help. Now is the time.”
Two years after its founding Clear Lines is growing, with foreign filmmakers flying in to present their films. Li and Mendes are planning to secure funding in the future so the scope of the festival can expand outside London to the UK and beyond.
In addition to responding to #MeToo, Clear Lines 2017 will also highlight the intersectionality of experiencing sexual abuse and assault, with sessions focusing on disabled survivors, LGBTQ survivors, and BAME or ethnic minority survivors.

Registration for Clear Lines 2017 is now open. Most events are free but booking is required. To reserve your spot in sessions throughout the festival, click here.

We did it! Thank you for supporting our crowdfunding campaign.

WOW — we did it!!

We set a very steep goal of raising £3,000 in just 3 weeks, and we’re THRILLED to say we surpassed that goal!  On Nov. 17th, we successfully raised £3,320 from 71 supporters in just 21 days.

Thanks to all of you, we are now able to officially declare Clear Lines 2017 a go! We’ve been able to secure our amazing venue, Rich Mix, for 3 days with incredible sessions, arts, and performances taking place from Friday to Sunday.

From all of us, a massive THANK YOU — and we hope to see you at Clear Lines from Dec. 1-3! Tickets will be available this week; in the meantime, please check out our speakers and schedule to get excited!

— the Clear Lines 2017 team

Volunteer Recruitment Meeting on Oct. 31, 2017

We are fast approaching Clear Lines 2017, which is taking place from Friday, December 1st until Sunday, December 3rd, 2017 at Rich Mix.

If you are passionate about ending sexual violence, and all forms of VAWG, please come along to the Clear Lines 2017 volunteer recruitment meeting at 7 pm on Tuesday, October 31st, 2017, at the Southbank Centre (exact location to be announced on our Facebook event).

There are lots of ways to get involved, big and small, remotely and in person. We are looking for individuals with a variety of skill sets to help with planning and logistics on the lead up to the festival, to support us with fundraising, ticket sales, and social media, and to volunteer througout the festival. We only ask that you are honest with the amount of time you can commit and are passionate and commited to making Clear Lines 2017 happen!

Feel free to get in touch via Facebook or email or email info@clearlines.org.uk if you have any questions.

We hope to see you on there!

Festival Organizer Winnie M Li Named 2017 Not the Booker Prize Winner

We are pleased to announce to the Clear Lines community that our festival organizer, Winnie M Li, has won the 2017 Not for Booker prize for her debut novel, Dark Chapter.

Dark Chapter, which chronicles the violence and aftermath of a brutal sexual assault of a Taiwanese-American woman in Belfast, was the leader among both readers and the judges panel and beat out four other shortlisted titles for the top prize: Man With a Seagull on His Head by Harriet Paige, The Threat Level Remains Severe by Rowena Macdonald, Not Thomas by Sara Gethin, and Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout.

Li based Dark Chapter around her own experience of, as she describes, falling between the cracks of the justice system following her sexual assault. It is from this place that Li co-founded Clear Lines as a space to talk about sexual assault — and we are thrilled to be bringing Clear Lines back for its second iteration from Dec. 2-3, 2017. Stay tuned for more details on this year’s programming.

#itsnotok – Films of the Clearlines Festival are now online!

The first ever Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week is taking place from the 1st-7th February 2016 to help public, statutory and third sector organisations to participate in a discussion about sexual abuse and sexual violence. During the week initiatives like Clearlines Festival and organisations, individuals and groups working in this area or affected by these issues are invited to raise awareness about sexual abuse and sexual violence and how to prevent it in the UK. The hashtag is .

To coincide with this week, we are releasing films of some of the amazing sessions that took place this summer.

Some highlights include:

What do we tell the kids about sexual abuse? How do our messages about sexual abuse confuse children? Learn why your child is unlikely to tell you if they are being sexually abused.

Finding pleasure after pain: Sex and intimacy after sexual violence. How can you build or reclaim your sex life after experiencing sexual violence?

How can we improve media coverage of sexual assault and abuse? Why do certain stories make the news and others don’t? Can we can change the way media professionals understand and portray sexual assault and abuse in the media?

Watch more of the films here.

Thanks for making Clear Lines a success!

volunteersWe’re proud to say the first-ever Clear Lines Festival was a great success!  From last Thursday until Sunday, Old Paradise Yard in Lambeth hosted a truly special gathering of speakers, artists, survivors, experts, and festival-goers — all eager to engage in an open, honest, authentic conversation about sexual assault and consent.  We could not have done this without the support of our crowdfunders, sponsors, performers, panelists, volunteers and YOU.  So thank you for following us on this journey.  We’ll now be taking a break to recover, and then have a think about where to take Clear Lines in the future.

Tears and laughter

audienceMany of our events were sold-out, with an estimated 500 people coming to participate at Clear Lines.  At our Theatre Night, tears were shed both in the audience and by our artists during the Q&A after these hard-hitting performances. And at our Comedy Night, we shook with laughter listening to Josie Long, Sarah Kendall, Stuart Black, and our MC and curator Tiff Stevenson.  Bridget Christie gave us a special preview of her Edinburgh show, and poets from the Burn After Reading Collective moved us with their insightful, elegant readings at our closing event. Panels like ‘Where have all the good men gone?’ and ‘Sex and intimacy after Sexual Violence‘ had our audiences fully engaged in heated discussions with our panelists and performers.

Only at Clear Lines would the Chief Crown Prosecutor for London appear on the same night as comedian Josie Long — or would Bridget Christie’s Edinburgh preview follow a panel called ‘Do Real Men Get Raped?’  If you missed some of our events, we are working on preparing our video coverage, and hope to make these videos available online soon.

What Those Involved Said: 

“It was an amazing experience. although very intense, it felt a safe space where vulnerability could be shared and I felt there was also a bit of collective healing.

“What you’ve done is pretty miraculous and you could see how the festival lit up those people. I haven’t experienced such positivity and hope like that, possibly, ever, especially in the face of such a tough subject.

“Thank you for organising such an incredible festival. Words fail me sometimes, when I need them most, they start falling away the moment I think of how it is one thing to be a survivor and it is another thing altogether to make things happen, like the festival, so that someone else can survive, can continue surviving – because I do believe it is an ongoing process, a constant working through it. Your festival, helped me do that, helped so many others do it, or at least know how to deal with it a little better. People will have woken up this morning a little bit changed because of you, because of what you made happen.”  

Clear Lines in the News

We’ve been thrilled by press coverage of Clear Lines, organised by festival sponsor On Road, including this Channel 4 News segment which aired on Monday:

On the Friday morning of the festival, comedian Tiff Stevenson and our co-founder Dr Nina Burrowes spoke on local BBC Radio stations throughout the UK, discussing the use of comedy in addressing sexual assault.  Our other co-founder Winnie M Li did the same, and also appeared on BBC Radio Ulster last night.  Her story as a survivor-turned-activist was also covered by the Irish News and the Daily Mail.  Our media panelist Radhika Sanghani wrote this Telegraph article about our revenge porn panel, and Vice magazine featured our visual artist Ela Xora.

(On Road is doing a larger piece of work on how sexual assault and abuse is covered in the media so do get in touch with them to find out more or if you are interested in being involved.)

Social Media Buzz during the Festival 

Our audiences were busy on Twitter at Clear Lines. Have a look at the festival hashtag #clearlinesfest and check out this storify from our Volunteer Coordinator Kate Llewellyn:

What did you think?

We’d love to hear what you thought of Clear Lines, so please spare a few moments to fill out a quick survey. We’d be really grateful.

Or you could email us at info@clearlines.org.uk — what was your favourite event?  How has coming to the festival changed your attitude towards sexual assault and the people it affects?  Your feedback will help us plan for the future.

What’s next?

Many people have said they’d like to see Clear Lines again in the future — or in other parts of the UK.  We are a small team of volunteers and need to think long and hard about what we can do next.  In the meantime, we’ll be sending out thank you packages to our crowdfunders and editing our videos of the festival.  Johanna Ward is working on her photographic project ‘The Watchful Eyes’, which some of you participated in.  But do spread the word about Clear Lines and what you got out of it!

Rolling into the second day of the Clear Lines Festival!

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We’re off to a great start! On the first day of the festival, we had a moving film screening and fascinating Q & A, a packed house during the Arts and Activism Panel and in-depth conversations around domestic violence, singing workshops and lots of good connections.

Our co-founders Winnie M Li and Nina Burrowes have been speaking on BBC Radio about the festival and why we’re creating a new space to bring the community together to talk about sexual assault and consent using comedy, theatre and discussion. We’ve also been featured in SheRag Magazine.

We’re rolling into the second day of the Clear Lines Festival! At 2pm we’ll have another Open House Session with charities and support organisations like Sisters Uncut and Hestia. The event goes on over the weekend at I’klectik in Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, SE1 7LG. Full directions and how to get there are on our website and the closest tube stations are Lambeth North, Westminster and Waterloo.

Today’s sessions:

From 4.30 – 5.45pm, we have a session on Creating clear lines on harassment and revenge pornography led by our festival sponsors international law firm McAllister Olivarius. Join Georgina Calvert-Lee and Halla Gunnarsdóttir for a conversation about what we should do about sexual harassment in the workplace and regulating revenge pornography. These two panel discussions will run back to back.

At 6pm, our expert media panel asks: How can we improve media coverage of sexual assault and abuse? The media plays an important role in perpetuating certain myths and narratives around abuse which has an impact on public (including potential jurors) perception of victims and perpetrators. The panel chaired BBC Scotland’s Head of Current Affairs, Marcus Ryder, with The Telegraph’s Radhika Sanghani, the BBC’s Alison Holt and Clear Lines co-founders Winnie M Li and Dr Nina Burrowes, will discuss why certain stories make the news and why others don’t, and whether we can change the way media professionals understand and portray sexual assault and abuse in the media. Read more on our blog.

Tonight’s Theatre Night kicks off at 8pm. Five plays which will be re-staged, in conjunction with Goblin Baby Theatre Company. Powerful and poignant, these plays explore victimhood, surviving, and recovering. They previously played to sold-out performances at the Unheard Festival in February at The Bread and Roses Theatre, a new writing festival exploring themes around sexual assault and sexual abuse.

Here is the full Clear Lines Programme from Thursday 30th July to Sunday 2nd of August. Check out the schedule too.

You can still book your tickets on Eventbrite.

Follow the #clearlinesfest hashtag and @ClearLinesUK on Twitter for live updates throughout the weekend.

See you all soon!

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Festival kicks off today – full programme is online!

The Clear Lines Festival starts today! Kicking off with an Open House Session at 2pm with charities and support organisations, the 4-day event takes place at I’klectik in Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, SE1 7LG. Full directions and how to get there are on our website and the closest tube stations are Lambeth North, Westminster and Waterloo.

At 4.30pm today, there will be a panel discussion on domestic violence: ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’. Victims of domestic violence face multiple challenges to leaving abusive relationships.  These struggles are often misunderstood by family, friends and the general public. This event will explore these obstacles and suggest ways in which our perceptions can be changed. Featuring Pamela Zaballa and Helen Sweeney from Hestia, Independent Domestic Violence Advisor Mouna El Ogbani and Peter Kelly from Gallop.

From 6 – 7.15pm, Red Chigney will chair an ‘Arts & Activism: Tackling Sexual Assault’ panel looking how we can use art and creativity to challenge social attitudes around rape and gender-based violence. And asking why is cultural change so important alongside legal change? Join panellists from Femme FierceSouthall Black Sisters and #thisdoesntmeanyes in this discussion.

At 8pm, our Film Night kicks off with a double-bill of thought-provoking documentary films, including the BAFTA-nominated film ‘The Unspeakable Crime: Rape’, followed by a discussion with the filmmakers Sara Hardy and Blue Ryan and Emmy-nominated documentary ‘Brave Miss World’.

Here is the full Clear Lines Programme from Thursday 30th July to Sunday 2nd of August. Check out the schedule too.

Book your tickets on Eventbrite.

Follow the #clearlinesfest hashtag and @ClearLinesUK on Twitter for live updates throughout the weekend.

See you all soon!

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Improving media coverage of sexual assault – line-up confirmed for this Friday at 6pm

What are the stories that are not being told in the media? How well does the “goodie, baddie, victim” paradigm serve the audience when covering sexual assault and abuse stories? How can the media improve its handling of these stories? What are the interesting angles that could be used, which will still appeal to large audiences whilst improving public understanding of sexual crimes, its victims and perpetrators?

Our panel of journalists and experts will discuss these issues this Friday evening at 6pm. The evening will be hosted by Nathalie McDermott, director of On Road Media, Clear Lines Festival sponsor.

The panel will be chaired by BBC Scotland’s Head of Current Affairs, Marcus Ryder who will be joined by:

There are a handful of tickets left for this event – Register for your free ticket here.

Follow @clearlinesuk for updates and the hashtag for the event will be #clearlinesfestival.

What should we tell the kids about sexual abuse?

Blogged by Dr Nina Burrowes

Every parent needs to find a way of living with the risk of the sexual abuse of their child. The statistics are frightening. 20% of girls and 8% of boys experience some form of sexual abuse. Sadly this means that abuse is in every community. It’s a crime that stretches across class, ethnicity, and religious group. No child is immune from abuse – so what should parents do?

who are the abusers

The simple answer is – educate yourself. There is so much misinformation about abuse. So many unhelpful messages. Teaching your child to avoid strangers is NOT the main way to reducing the risk of sexual abuse.

It’s only by opening your eyes to the real risks that you can keep your child safe. From tots to teens our kids need us to shun the myths and open our eyes to the truth about abuse.

our knowledge is how we protect our kids

Join Dr Nina Burrowes, author of ‘Eyes open to sexual abuse. What every parent needs to know‘ and therapist Silke Katharina at The Clear Lines Festival for a conversation about the real risks and what you can do about them. The panel ‘What do we tell the kids about sexual abuse?’ is on Saturday 1st of August from 12.30 – 1.30pm.

Tickets are available on Eventbrite – book early to avoid disappointment as space is very limited.