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Survivors’ Truths seeks to challenge assumptions, inspire hope and create change through the stories we tell and how we tell them. Carried out in partnership with community groups, our participatory media projects focus on stories of survival. In doing so, we uncover possibilities for understanding, healing and positive action that might otherwise be missed.
In late 2006, Dove Pressnall had been working for nearly two years as a trainer and field supervisor of Liberian counselors and social workers. Rehabilitating post civil-war survivors of sexual violence, torture and conscripted child soldiers, she began to notice a pattern. Counselors would record page after page of unthinkable horrors with almost nothing about how they came through those experiences.
Pressnall became very interested in the knowledge, courage, relationships and other resources that allowed people to survive. She found in these stories a foundation for helping people move forward in their lives. At the time, Pressnall was also consulting to the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission and this led her to wonder about the possible helpful effects of sharing these stories of survival more publicly.
The Liberia project, which features photography by Christopher Herwig and some 30 interviews with survivors, was born from this idea. Their stories of courage and resilience have now been exhibited in Liberia, as well as Washington, D.C. and throughout Southern California.
After relocating to Los Angeles in 2007, Dove began considering how this model might be helpful with other groups. In June of 2009, Survivors Truths, Inc. was established as a California non-profit corporation and obtained 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service. With a tiny staff, Survivors’ Truths began building contacts and fostering partnerships. Since then we’ve acquired a real office, a dynamic team of volunteers and interns and a skilled and active Board of Directors.
In 2011, we began working with transgender youth in Hollywood and other projects have followed.
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