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Viv Gordon is a theatre maker and arts activist. She writes and performs shows that creatively articulate trauma narratives based on her lived experience as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, connecting the personal with wider, socio-political themes and perspectives. Viv’s work is a campaign to forge survivor voice, visibility and community and agitate for change.

This year Viv previewed ORAL, a gobby opinionated show about sexual abuse, dentistry and civil rights co-commissioned by Strike a Light and The Sick of the Fringe. She holds a Develop Your Creative Practice Grant from Arts Council England to develop relationships with survivor artists, activists and academics in the UK and USA. Viv is currently making a new solo show called Cutting Out, reflecting on the scale and severity of abuse in the UK.

Viv says… I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse living with completely normal but complex post trauma responses. I am by turns angry, fearful, distressed, dissociative, hypervigilant …. Who with my experiences wouldn’t be?

I have dodged services and diagnosis all my life harbouring deep distrust for a system that has the power to pathologise my responses, drug me without my consent, lock me away…..

The problem is not me and my survival mechanisms – the problem is abuse and abusers.

The problem is that society is proficient at stigmatising me and my behaviour but impotent when it comes to addressing the horrifying scale and severity of abuse in the UK

The systems set up to “help” survivors so often serve to perpetuate the silencing, shaming and blaming that abuse thrives on. Viewed in this way both abuse and psychiatry become technologies of power and patriarchy that must be resisted.

My creative work is a campaign to forge voice, visibility and community for survivors, to move beyond problematising individuals towards collective action that addresses our struggle as a civil rights struggle.

Anne Cooke

Viv Gordon