Mutual Aid to Survivors of Gender and Sexual Violence

Mariesa Samba (2021)

Abstract: In the foreground of a global pandemic, state-abandonment, and racial uprising, today’s mutual aid organizers are filling in as the first responders.  The current wave of mutual aid marks a return to the spirit of self-help and grassroots activism that first birthed gender-based, anti-violence movements that informed feminist of color critiques against police punishment. This project, Mutual Aid to Survivors of Gender and Sexual Violence, is a qualitative study that identifies how anti-violence organizations based in Los Angeles responded to the COVID-19 global pandemic from 2020 to 2021 in their organizational practices and political ideologies.  The researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with staff and volunteers at two nonprofit organizations, California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) and Peace Over Violence (POV), that focus on women, queer, and trans communities of color in the Los Angeles surrounding area impacted by gender-based violence and the violence of prisons. The following organizational practices and political ideologies were explored: new pandemic responses in the nonprofit setting; political ideologies of the state; movement-driven work versus client-driven work; and transformative care as an advocacy and service practice.  The study’s findings conclude that, under crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, existing resources were limited and access to increased resources did not occur thus leading CCWP and POV to develop mutual aid organizational practices and political ideologies in response.