The Backbone Collective is a national coalition of survivors of Violence Against Women in Aotearoa New Zealand.
There are many aspects of society that survivors often negotiate after they have experienced violence and abuse. There are institutions and services designed to work directly or formally with survivors (for example, the police, the courts, health services, Child Youth & Family Services) as well as agencies, groups or individuals working indirectly or informally (for example, social services, community services, ecclesiastic services, interventions from schools, friends, whānau or family members).
Collectively, these different aspects make up the ‘response system’, which we believe must be focused on what survivors need to be safe and to rebuild their lives, must not cause more harm, and all parts of the system must be joined together to make it easy and safe for survivors to navigate.
The backbone symbolises strength, determination and connectedness. Women who suffer violence and abuse show great fortitude, courage and determination throughout their lives. However, it is hard to speak up when you have been made vulnerable through violence and abuse. We are often isolated and hurting and it’s hard to talk about an experience that is still minimised and misunderstood.
We are confident that The Backbone Collective will help us combine our strength and courage and support survivors to speak out as a collective, rather than as individuals, and call for a society that does not condone Violence Against Women and responds effectively when it occurs.