Cultures of Care | Sonya Passi | Learning Guide

Learning Guide

Key Themes

The key themes are thematic focal points that anchor the conversations around care for each dispatch. They can be used by educators and facilitators to prepare for learning, drive and structure conversations, and plan for connections to media/art/current events/personal contexts.


Trust those most impacted to create the conditions that support them to lead

FreeFrom, whose staff is all survivors, designed their organizational structure so that survivors can lead the work in healthy and resourced ways. In large part, this is rooted in trusting staff to know their needs and to address them in ways that contribute to the broader movement. This adds to the call by disability activists for “nothing about us or for us, without us,” and the participatory action research principle that those closest to an issue know best how to address that issue.


Direct aid is a practice of trust

FreeFrom was started from the analysis that the biggest barrier to survivors leaving abusive relationships is economic. Therefore the most efficient way to address this urgent need is through direct cash. As a society we consistently place stipulations and requirements around cash aid rather than trusting people to know best what to do when they have the money they need.

Video Guide

Trusting Survivors


At the center of FreeFrom’s work is the value of trusting survivors. What does this mean in practice? In which ways have we as a society failed to do this?


What are some examples of service work that does not center the wisdom and knowledge of the people the work is intended to serve?

Create Space


In FreeFrom’s Trust Survivors report they include a quote from a survivor that states:

“As someone who is undocumented, getting relief/help/aid has proven very difficult, making an already hard situation worse. Adding roadblocks to funds in [an] effort to ‘prevent folks who don’t need it’ always hurts those that do.”

What are some of the roadblocks that hinder the agency people have to be able to do this?


Who is responsible for creating this space for people to take care of themselves? What do you imagine creating space for people to take care of themselves looks like in practice?

From the Inside Out


Identify some ways Sonya centers care in her work as a leader? What does centering care look like in designing how an organization operates?


Sonya speaks of the creativity of survivors. How is creativity a part of surviving?

Economic Justice is Healing Justice


Sonya states that “Patriarchy stripped the Gender-based violence movement of its economic core.” What is the danger in not centering economic justice in gender-based violence work?


Why do you think some people are apprehensive to talk about economic justice within the context of intimate partner violence?

Direct Aid


Why do you think giving cash directly to survivors is not a more widely accepted practice of care?

Extended Learning

Work Cultures of Care

Read the "About FreeFrom" section on the FreeFrom website to learn more about how the group centers survivors in their work structure and culture. Identify a business or organization you are interested in or have a relationship with. Imagine you are going to interview them about how they support survivors in their workplace. Come up with a few questions you might want to ask them.

Trusting Survivors Campaign

You’re tasked with creating a poster for FreeFrom to use in their campaign to educate people around the concept of “trusting survivors.” Your poster should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • No depictions of humans
  • Use the word survivor
  • Convey in some way why we should trust survivors

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