#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.

Pop-up photo studio with Johanna Ward

We’re excited to be hosting a pop-up photo studio during Saturday and Sunday of the festival, as part of a special project by our Artist-in-Residence Johanna Ward.  Sign up to participate and take a visual stand against sexual violence and abuse!  Hear Johanna explain her project ’The Watchful Eyes’ in her own words:

Johanna Ward_8160‘The Watchful Eyes’ by Johanna Ward

Have you ever felt someone’s eyes upon you when your back was turned? We use our eyes to communicate many of our emotions and the effect can be powerful, before we’ve even spoken a word. Eyes can attract, they can repel and they can strike fear purely through the power of our gaze. But imagine a story told with a cropped frame, with only the eyes of a person peering out, acting alone as characters in a story – could as powerful a story be told?

Over the course of the 1st and 2nd August I’m running a pop-up photo studio in the hope of encouraging people – you – to garner your feelings on the deeply emotive subject of sexual violence, and present these emotions to the camera. If you feel fury, I want you to show this.  If you feel sadness, embrace it and show it. Whatever your emotion, if you’re willing to engage in this visual experiment, I ask you to make your statement and become a part of ‘The Watchful Eyes.’

The Fear,  Johanna Ward

The Fear, Johanna Ward

In the book Ways of Seeing, John Berger said men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. But in the context of the subject of this festival, I don’t believe it’s that straightforward. If neither person in the exchange of looking is threatened, perhaps the tropes learned through cinema and advertising may be true.  But where one is threatened, that person does not welcome the passivity Berger ascribes to the woman. The issues that arise when considering how to visually interpret a complex subject such as this inevitably drew me to our widest known storytelling media: cinema. Film affects how we perceive our sex, our identity, our sense of self and can have positive and negative affects. But even in 2015, mainstream media continues to push at the same gender clichés that have influenced society for decades.

I have also drawn further inspiration from a psychology article I once read in relation to experiments that used pictures of eyes to deter littering and theft. These subjects may be far removed from the subject of sexual violence, but the experiments are still fascinating. Psychologists placed pictures of “staring eyes,” sometimes with text and sometimes just the eyes themselves in areas afflicted by crime or laziness (people not clearing away their rubbish in a communal area) and in both cases, the presence of eyes positively reduced the number of items stolen, or left lying around. I found this fascinating and somehow the article stuck and revealed itself when I was approached to participate in this festival. I wondered how this could be applied if these guardian eyes were placed in dark alleyways, in bus shelters, or lonely streets. Could it deter sexual crime? Could it deter someone attempting to attack another?

By focusing on the dynamic between art and science, I want to address the imbalance between the supposed active (male) and passive (female) and perhaps challenge these gender stereotypes in imagery. This series of images will become the next chapter of my project, The Fear, currently a work in progress that explores the darker relationship between men and women through photography.

Pop-up photo studio, 1st and 2nd of August

Please sign up for a 10-20 minute session on either the 1st and 2nd August where it’ll just be you and me in a small studio. We can talk about your feelings on this subject, or if you prefer, you can stay silent — and along the way, I’ll be photographing your eyes.  Signing up is easy and can be done by clicking on this link:

http://doodle.com/s56ftafb9q6kfmbp

Why can’t this man talk about rape?

How easy is it for a man to talk about rape? Do they have any right to get involved in the conversation? Do we care what they have to say?

We need more men to get involved in conversations about rape, assault and abuse. Which means we need to recognise how hard that can be. Talking about abuse is hard – even for those of us who do it all the time.

Chris Packe shares his thoughts in the video below and will have more to say at The Clear Lines Festival on August 1st.

Get involved in the conversation at the UK’s first festival on sexual assault. Chris will be part of ‘Where have all the good men gone?’ on the 1st August, with White Ribbon’s James Chespy, Alex Feis-Bryce from National Ugly Mugs Scheme and Dr Nina Burrowes.

Talking about sex and intimacy after abuse at The Clear Lines Festival

How can you build or reclaim your sex life after experiencing sexual violence?

Life after abuse can present all sorts of challenges. Recovery from trauma, the challenge of learning to trust others, the challenge of being yourself again. It can also create difficulties with sex and intimacy.

In the video below, Ione Wells and Nina Burrowes discuss why we need to have more conversations about sex and intimacy after sexual violence. Join Pavan Amara the founder of My Body Back, Ione Wells, who started the Not Guilty campaign, and psychologist Dr Nina Burrowes for a discussion about the different ways that sexual violence can affect your sex life and what you and your partner can do about it at the Clear Lines Festival on Sunday 2nd August.

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

Tickets are now on sale!

Some members of the Clear Lines Committee

Members of the Clear Lines Committee

We’re pleased to announce that the first batch of tickets for the Clear Lines Festival are now available to the general public! A 4-day festival of discussion, music, film, theatre and art from July 30th to August 2nd 2015 in London. It’s the UK’s first-ever festival of this kind, focusing on creating a space to talk about sexual assault and consent.

We have an ambitious and exciting programme! A wide range of performances, workshops and panel discussions will explore creativity both as a therapeutic response and as an agent of change. You can choose from the ticketed sessions below. This is just the first set of events on sale, and we’ll be announcing the full line-up over the coming week, when those tickets are ready for release. For now, check out the current schedule of available events (many of them free) across the four days. There are a limited number of spaces in the venue available, so please book your tickets today.

Date: July 30 – August 02, 2015

Venue: Iklectik, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, SE1 7LG. The venue is a 5 minute walk from Westminster Bridge and the closest tube stations are Lambeth North and Waterloo.


Arts and Activism – Tackling Sexual Assault (Free but spaces are limited)

Thursday, 30 July 2015 from 18:00 to 19:15

How can we use art and creativity to challenge social attitudes around rape and gender-based violence? And why is cultural change so important alongside legal change? Join panellists from Femme FierceSouthall Black Sisters and #thisdoesntmeanyes in this discussion.

Clear Lines Festival Film Night

Thursday, 30 July 2015 from 20:00 to 22:30

An exclusive double bill of two thought proviking documentary films: First, the Emmy-nomiated documentary ‘Brave Miss World.’ Next, the BAFTA- nominated film ‘The Unspeakable Crime’, followed by a discussion with the filmmakers Sara Hardy and Blue Ryan.

Unheard USE

Photographer: Kenneth Jay

Clear Lines Festival Theatre Night

Friday, 31 July 2015 from 20:00 to 22:00

Five powerful and poignant plays, exploring victimhood, surviving, and recovering in conjunction with Goblin Baby Theatre Company.

What Do We Tell The Kids About Sexual Abuse? (Free but spaces are limited)

Saturday, 1 August 2015 from 12:30 to 13:30

Every parent needs to find a way of living with the risk of the sexual abuse of their child. But whilst the vast majority of children are abused by someone they know most of our messages to children are about the dangers of strangers. Why do adults send such confusing messages to their kids and what can you do to keep your child safe? A discussion lead by Dr Nina Burrowes,  a psychologist and researcher specialising in the psychology of sexual abuse.

Tiff Stevenson

Tiff Stevenson

Clear Lines Festival Comedy Night

Saturday, 1 August 2015 from 20:00 to 22:00

Hosted by funnywoman Tiff Stevenson, a stellar line-up of stand-up comedians tackle the issue of sexual assault and poke fun at some of our cultural attitudes surrounding rape and sexuality. More to be announced soon!

Do Real Men Get Raped?

Sunday, 2 August 2015 from 14:30 to 15:30

Men and boys are much more likely to be victims of sexual violence than perpetrators of sexual violence and yet as a group of victims they are often invisible. Join our panelists, Michael May, Alex-Feis Bryce and Dr. Nina Burrowes for a conversation about the realities faced by men who are living with the impact of sexual violence.

Sexual Violence in Popular Crime Fiction: A Conversation With Killer Women

Sunday, 2 August 2015 from 17:30 to 18:30

Top crime writers Kate RhodesErin Kelly, and Melanie McGrath come together for a unique discussion about the representation of sexual violence in popular crime fiction. Killer Women will discuss if rape is often used for shock value or narrative drive, rather than a realistic portrait of the crime and its psychological impact?  As women writers, do they feel a responsibility to handle the topic in a certain way?

Book your tickets today on Eventbrite and keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook feeds for more announcements in the next week!