FOs

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(fos) by (fos)

(fos) is the name of the first ephemeral installation by the multidisciplinary team (fos). It means light in Greek and melted in Catalan.
In this project has been represented by a skin that covers both vertical and horizontal surfaces.

The protected facade of the vegan restaurant Rayen at Lope de Vega street in Madrid has been illuminated for 4 days and nights by more than 250ml of yellow tape, painted décor items, pineapples and… a lamp. A visual game between perspective and colored volumes that gained the looks.

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Whether you’re reading this guide preemptively just in case someone you know ends up going through trauma, or because you have a survivor in your life- thank you.

Thank you for caring about the wrong and right ways to go about helping someone who has been traumatized because too often we just ‘go with our guts’ and end up hurting our friends.

This guide will be focusing on the long term, the post trauma survivor. It is aimed at Friends/family of survivors of all ages. If you can’t do some of the things listed due to ability/skill/financial/time- don’t feel bad. These are just suggestions.

First and foremost:

Ask your friend if there is anything you can do for them. They may be able to give you suggestions themselves, or they may not. Some survivors are too ashamed to ask for what they need, others aren’t sure themselves. 

If they say no- one thing you can do is just follow with, “Okay. But if in the future you think of something you don’t want me to do or that you’d like me to try and help you with- you know where to find me.”

If they voice that they really aren’t sure, you can give specific examples. Bring up things like avoiding triggers- whether it be types of touch, activities, or words. You can also use the rest of this post as a sort of guide- things that you can suggest.

A big don’t.

One thing that really needs to be stressed and to be taken into consideration above all else- is that you must remember that the survivor in question is a person. Not only are they a person, they’re their own person.

This has a few different implications-

don’t get mad at them because they won’t follow your advice. They are their own person and while you probably give your advice from a good place- you need to understand that they know their situation better than you do. Don’t push a friend to get therapy or to call the police or to try anything. I know it’s hard to see your friend in pain and feel like this one thing would help them no longer be in pain, but recognize that you aren’t them and thus don’t have the full perspective.

don’t spread what happened to them without their permission. Their history? belongs to them. Don’t tell anyone without their permission. If you absolutely must talk to someone for their opinion- don’t give revealing details (such as name or identifying traits.) and if you are absolutely determined that you have the right to tell someone without their permission- at least be honest with them that you’re going to do that. Understand that that might be the end of your friendship. 

don’t give advice without asking if they want to hear it, and pay attention to their body language/word choice when you’re giving it. When you’re a trauma survivor, and especially one who is open about what happened to you, everyone thinks they know the thing that will help you. Trauma survivors hear an endless amount of advice- and for the most part? it does a lot more harm than good. If only because it’s overwhelming. This goes for a lot of things- not just healing. It’s a good rule of thumb to follow in general.

don’t mistake seeking reassurance or encouragement as asking for advice. A lot of well meaning people are really quick to give advice and tips when they aren’t being sought after. If your friend is seeking reassurance, validation, or encouragement- that’s what they need in that moment. To give a non trauma example, if your friend gets a 'C’ on their test and looks at you and goes 'please tell me that this won’t ruin my life’ or even 'next time I’m on tumblr the night before a test, please yell at me to go study’- that is not the time to give them advice on how to study.  Reassure them. And maybe later ask 'hey, do you want some tips on studying? I could show you how I do it.' 

don’t be that person who gets upset with them for showing trauma symptoms. If your friend flinches back when you go to hug them- it isn’t about them thinking you’re going to hurt them. It’s an automatic response.  Don’t say things like 'why don’t  you trust me!’ or 'you know I’d never hurt you!’

Now we’re going to move on to some things that you might be able to do to help your friend.

Avoid Triggers.

This may be something that you’re able to notice on your own, but it’s probably best to ask.

If you notice that your friend gets really uncomfortable around certain things, or that they have panic attacks- once they’ve calmed down and are away from the situation it’s a good idea to ask them if they have any triggers.

There’s a misconception that being triggered is only about having a complete meltdown, but the truth is that being triggered is about internal feelings that cause an uptick in negative symptoms- whether it’s a panic attack, self harm, or other maladaptive coping skills.

Your friend might be triggered by certain words, places, activities, or people. If they open up to you about something like that, take them at their word. Don’t ask why it’s triggering or doubt them because it’s not something you’d think would be triggering.

Listening to them talk about trauma.

A lot of people feel uncomfortable listening to trauma because they aren’t sure what to do or what to say. This is by no means a comprehensive guide- but here are a few things to keep in mind:

If you’re going to ask questions- it’s best to ask them in a way that doesn’t pressure them to talk. Also, reflect on whether or not you’re asking the question because you’re curious- or because you want to help. If it’s curiosity- it’s best to shelve it. Trauma is really hard to talk about for a lot of survivors and it’s best not to reopen those wounds unless needed.

“I understand if you don’t want to tell me, but I’m here for you if you want to talk about this.”

“What happened to you is your business, but I was wondering if you might want to tell me who hurt you. That way I won’t accidentally bring them up/ invite you to places where they are.”

The biggest thing when someone is telling you about their trauma- is validation.

“That sounds horrific. I’m really sorry you had to go through all that.”

“I can’t imagine how bad that must have made you feel.”

“You’re right! That person is an absolute monster for what they did to you.”

Match their emotional level. If they tell a story and aren’t super angry at their abuser- don’t talk about how you want to hurt their abuser or how bad of a person their abuser is. 

Don’t be offended if they don’t want your comfort. Some people lash out because they think that a survivor not talking to them or not wanting a hug and things like that- but that isn’t appropriate. Remember that this is your friend- and their comfort? matters more than your need to comfort. If they don’t want to talk about it or if they don’t want to be touched- it isn’t about you. On that note- ask before hugging someone who is upset. “do you want a hug?” will suffice.

A major no-no is saying things like “If I had been you I would have_________” whether it’s 'kicked the abuser in the balls’ but especially 'would have killed myself’. These statements are extremely inappropriate and extremely harmful for your friend.

When you notice that they’re upset- don’t pressure them to talk about it, but ask if they would like to. Create a safe space for them to come to with hard things.

If you aren’t sure what they need- ask. “Do you want validation? advice? or just a distraction.” Sometimes the best remedy is watching cat videos or just going out to lunch and not talking about it. 

Include them.

Remember that your friend who just opened up to you about trauma? is still the same friend they were before you knew about the trauma.

While it’s courtesy to remember triggers, don’t automatically exclude them from every thing. If you aren’t sure whether or not they’d like to go? ask.

If you notice they say no a lot-and you’d like to spend time with them- ask if there’s something that they’d like to do. Or if there is a way that you can help them feel more comfortable going out. Maybe even suggest just going over to one another’s house and watching a movie- something that doesn’t take a lot of energy and worry. 

Remember that your friend isn’t just a trauma survivor. If before you found out about the trauma y'all used to talk about art or movies or food- make sure you’re still bringing up those things. Sometimes in the rush to be concerned, friends of survivors can make survivors feel like they aren’t a person outside their trauma.

Give them a language to talk about what happened.

Remember to ask before giving suggestions- but I definitely think this is a suggestion worth making.

Create a code just for the two of you so that they can tell you if they’re uncomfortable in public, or if they need to go home. You may even create a nickname for the person that hurt them- so that you can say that they’re nearby without saying their name.

The code my friends and I would use- was turtles. I didn’t have turtles, they didn’t have turtles- but it was a code word of sorts.

“Do you need to go home and check on the turtles?” was 'do you need to leave?’

“I think we should go check on the turtles, I think they need to be fed’ was 'I think we should go’

"How are the turtles doing?” was basically 'how are you?’ but allowed us to be more 'open’ in public. It’s a lot easier to say 'you know, the turtles are doing pretty rough.’ than to admit that we aren’t doing well.

Understand you can’t be their everything.

A lot of friendships end because friends feel like they have to be more than friends. It’s a mixture of factors, sometimes it’s the friend taking too much responsibility for things they aren’t even being asked- and sometimes it’s the survivor being so grateful to finally have someone they can ask for things- that they do ask for too much.

If they want something you can’t give them? Just be firm and honest. Your boundaries are important to.

“I super want to be there for you, but my parents don’t want me on the phone past 9 pm.  If it’s a super '911’ emergency- I might be able to text. But in general I can’t talk after nine.”

“I’m really glad that you feel comfortable telling me all this stuff. However, I feel really out of my depth here and I can’t give you advice you need. Have you thought about trying therapy? or maybe a crisis line? I’m happy to help you find other people to talk to- and while I still want to be your friend….  I want to be your friend. I can’t be your therapist.”

If you can- offer to help them find resources that will help them with what they need. Acknowledge that their need is valid, but that you can’t be the one to do it.

“I can totally understand needing ________, can I help you look into alternative ways of getting that?”

Remember that you’re only one person, and you’re your own person too. You’re allowed to have a life and interests and be happy and healthy. You do not have to sacrifice everything you have in order to help your friend. It is not your job to be their caretaker. Just be respectful when talking to them.

Reaffirm Worth (but pay attention to their reaction.)

Sometimes survivors don’t like to hear that they’re great people. Sometimes people telling them that they’re beautiful- makes them feel bad.

Compliment your friends (in general, not just the survivors ones.), support their interests, have a positive relationship where you’re there for each other as individuals.

But also know that every time someone insults themselves, isn’t fishing for compliments. Know that when someone argues with you that 'no’ they aren’t smart- they aren’t trying to be difficult.

For some survivors, if comments about them make them react like that- it can help instead to make the comment specifically about a work.

“You did really well on that test” vs “you’re so smart!”

“That dress looks really nice on you” vs “you look great today!”

It can also be really nice to give them lasting reminders that you care. I’m not talking about gifts- but letters or little doodles. Things that when they’re struggling- they can look back on and go 'this person cares about me.’ or 'I’m not all that terrible I guess’ or 'this is why I’m fighting to heal.’

If a gift is something you’d like to do- a coping box or a self care box might be a good idea. Sensory objects are usually a good bet to put in them (mints, playdough, fidget toys, glitter jars, maybe a cd.) your friend might also like a coloring book or zine. If you’re super close- the two of you could work on creating it together, making an action plan on the top “Instead of ________” or “In case of emergency”  "I will do _________,__________,or ___________“ I know it can seem silly or juvenile but these things really help.

Remember:

Your friend is your friend, and they are also a person. Treat them with respect and dignity. Don’t ask questions because you’re just curious- and don’t tell other people what happened to them.

You’re a person too. You’re allowed to have boundaries and need help.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen and validate that what they went through was horrible.

Ask before giving advice.

See if you can create a language that will make it easier to talk about things.

Hey, we all do it.

We turn to those easy, quick sayings- in order to comfort people.

But often times, it is the absolute worst thing to say.

These phrases often simplify large problems in a way that they can’t be simplified and ignore all complicating factors. They also tend to shame people who the statement isn’t true for.

I asked my followers to send me in triggers a lil bit ago, and these are all things that showed up on multiple people’s lists. Yet people who are bothered by these things are told to keep quiet because they’re the only ones. It simply isn’t true.

So let’s talk about some sentiments that we need to erase from our conversations.

1. Your parents always love you/ you have to love your parents.

Look, I get where this comes from. It’s a nice idea- but its a lie.

Parents abuse their children. Parents kick their children out. Parents neglect their children. Parents prostitute their children out. Parents murder their children.

Parents do all sorts of terrible things.

and if someone says they don’t love their parents, or they don’t have a family- don’t argue with them. You have no idea why someone is saying it- and it really isn’t any of your business.

So please, stop saying it.

You can say that your parents will love you no matter what.  but the generalized statement? needs to go.

2.  "Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it"/ “Put up and shut up”/“Take one for the team”

There is no situation where it is okay to say, “you’re hurting, but you better smile” yet we say the prior all the time.

It is not okay to minimize people’s pain. It is not okay that we treat people who talk about their pain like lepers. It is not okay.

We have built a culture of silence, and the only people it benefits? is those causing the pain.

These phrases are about sacrificing yourself in order to further a ‘common goal’ and not complaining about it.

The entire concept of 'you are not as worthwhile as the majority’ is well… gross.

There is a difference between personally choosing to sacrifice yourself, and being coerced and guilted into doing so.

We all learned in middle school that peer pressure was gross. So stop using it as adults.

3. “Why don’t you trust me?” “You trust me don’t you?”

Especially coming from near strangers. Can we not? Trust is something people have to earn. It isn’t inherent. Especially for survivors. Also, it isn’t always personal that someone doesn’t trust you. Some people just don’t trust that easy. Stop taking it as a personal offense.

4. “Happiness comes to those who look for it.” “If you only think negatively that’s all you’re going to get” “Every Cloud has a silver lining” ect all

 While these may be personally motivating, telling someone else that it is their fault if they can’t find happiness- is bloody gross. and it is victim blaming.

People who are depressed will not suddenly be perky, happy neurotypical individuals if they just look at the bright side.

and telling someone who has been through trauma that if they just looked for the good in what happened- makes you an asshole.

5. “If you were a real ______, you would __________”

I really don’t care what is attached to the real.

I don’t care if you’re talking about 'real women’, 'real fan’, 'real trans person’, 'real lesbian’, 'real rape victim’,'real feminist’.

Everyone is different.

Everyone reacts to things differently.

Policing peoples identities is gross.

Stop being gross.

6. “Do it for me, please”/“If you loved me you would(n’t)”

Whether it be about not self harming, not committing suicide, or trying to coerce someone into having sex with you- its all not cool to say.

Stop trying to guilt people into doing or not doing things. It’s only going to make them resent you, and make them hurt more. and in the case of the last one- its rape.

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A Four Day Long Ray Of Light By (Fos) Team

Situated on Lope de Vega Street in Madrid, the protected facade of Rayen has been illuminated for four days and nights (19-22 of September 2013) by about 250m of bright yellow adhesive tape. Named after the team behind it, the installation gives the illusion of an artificial light shining from above the restaurant’s entrance swathing the lighted area in very bright yellow light.

via

[Friends of Survivors: How to Listen to Trauma Stories.]

Maybe your friend hasn’t shared their story yet. Maybe they have and you felt really awkward. Perhaps you aren’t sure if you know a survivor, but want to be prepared just in case. Either way, thank you for being interested in learning about how to better listen to these things.

Listening to trauma histories, especially as a non survivor, can be hard. Even when you want to do the right thing and don’t want to judge them or hurt them- there’s a lot of things going on. The experience may be overwhelming, you may not be sure what to say, you may be worried about what is expected of you.

It’s okay to be overwhelmed. Just understand that while it might be hard to hear about trauma, it’s almost always harder to be the person telling what happened to them. You’re allowed to have boundaries, but please be considerate of this fact. Instead of freaking out, or listening and then never speaking to the other person again- you can say something like “I’m really glad that you trust me enough to share this with me. I know it was really hard to open up like this. To be honest- I’m feeling a little uncomfortable right now, not because of you, but because I don’t know what to do." 

or that you aren’t in a place to hear about trauma right now. Or whatever it is. Just be nice, open and respectful. Will it most likely hurt the person’s feelings? yes. but much less than if you just up and disappear or say something cruel because you’re feeling uncomfortable.

Now that that is cleared up- we’re going to talk about how to let someone know you’re willing to listen to their history.

So maybe your friend is a survivor but hasn’t told you what happened. You know that talking about it is supposed to help, but you aren’t sure how to approach the subject without pressuring them to do something they’re uncomfortable with. Maybe they keep starting to say things related to it and then stopping mid-sentence and dropping the subject.

A great line in this case is, "I want you to know that I’m willing to listen to you talk about what happened, if that’s what you want to do. I’m not a therapist, I can’t promise I’ll be able to help, but I’m happy to be a shoulder to cry on or just a pair of ears.”

Don’t pressure them to talk. Don’t insist that you’re a safe person. Don’t get offended that they don’t want to talk to you.

Just say that you’re happy to listen if that’s what they need. 

Making a Safe Place For Trauma Conversations to Happen.

Making a safe place for talking about trauma is about more than just letting them know you’re willing. In general, if you tend to be pushy about their personal choices or judgmental about the things they do- you aren’t making yourself a safe person to talk to. Or really, being a good friend- even outside of trauma. We all want whats best for our friends, but it’s important to remember that we don’t know everything that is going on- and above all else, we have to respect our friends as people.

Beyond that, if you want to offer a place to talk- keep in mind that they probably need privacy. A place that is quiet without many people around is probably your best bet in person. 

If you are emailing or texting or anything of that nature- ask if they want you to delete messages after you’ve responded. This may help them feel safer- in knowing that no one is going to find your phone and read what happened. This also falls under my next point-

Ask if there’s anything you can do to make the conversation safer for them.

They may not have any suggestions here. It may help to know that you’re deleting messages after you’ve responded. It might help them if the two of you talk in ‘code’ (giving the person who hurt them a nick name, or talking as you’re talking about characters in a book or someone at school.) They might ask you not to use certain words. While it may seem like a lot to have to do, remember that this is a very sensitive space, and that this is your friend. A friend who has been hurt and who you want to help.

Match Emotional Intensity. 

Is your friend super angry?! Then you can be too. If they say angry mean things about the person, and you want to say angry mean things too- you can. A lot of times friends of survivors want to say mean things about the attacker and if the survivor does it first- it’s okay.

However, if your friend isn’t angry, please don’t say those things. You’re likely to make your friend even more uncomfortable- and maybe even start to doubt themselves. After all, if they don’t want those bad things to happen- maybe they’re making a big deal out of nothing….

On the opposite end of this, if your friend is non-emotional, it can be really uncomfortable for them if you get extremely weepy or rage filled as well. A lot of survivors are at a non-emotional place when they tell their story, often in order to protect themselves- extreme emotions may make it hard for them to do that and make talking about it counter productive.

Try to match emotional intensity with your friend as much as possible, though of course you’re allowed to have your own feelings.  You’re allowed to be angry that someone hurt your friend- but keep in mind that they are the person who has been hurt and thus their feelings come first on this matter. 

If they begin to look uncomfortable, or keep stopping-

reassure them that they’re allowed to talk about this if they want to. But that they also /don’t/ have to talk about it if they don’t want to. It they start sobbing uncontrollably or pulling at their hair, clothes- it might help to just say

“talking about what happened is really hurting you right now. I respect your right to keep talking if you want to, I understand that keeping silent also hurts. but you can also stop if you need to. Don’t feel like you have to keep talking. “

If you aren’t sure what they need- ask.

One of the most common things that makes non survivors uncomfortable, is that they aren’t sure what the other person wants from them. Usually the answer is 'just someone to listen’ or even 'I don’t know’- but if you aren’t sure, ask.

It may help if you give them options like "Do you want me to just sit here and listen? Do you want advice? Validation? I want to support you in the best way that I can.”

When the conversation is done- if you’re wondering what you should do to help them, if anything- ask. They may ask you to avoid certain words still, or help them out with something-  but in general, most survivors don’t ask for too much. If it turns out they ask for something you can’t give, validate their need- but politely say you aren’t the best person for that. 

Don’t Push.

Don’t push language on them. If they don’t want to call it rape- but want it call it an incident or ’ when that thing happened’ allow them to do that. 

Don’t push a course of action on them. Don’t ask if they reported or if they did xyz. Don’t tell them to do those things. Only give advice if they ask for it. 

Afterwards

Remember that your friend? is still your friend. They are the same person they were before they told you what happened.

Don’t act like they never told you at all- but don’t make it the only thing you talk about, or treat them like they’re super fragile. 

Also remember to take time to process your own feelings that come up. When our friends are hurt- it can shake our sense of trust in the world. It can make us feel bad. Your feelings? are valid. Though it’s probably not a good bet to tell your friend that talking to them about their trauma makes you feel bad. A good rule of thumb is 'Comfort In. Complain out.’  Make sure that if you’re talking to other people about how you feel- that you don’t out your friend without their permission. Either keep it anonymous or only talk to people that you know they’re okay with you talking to. 

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The rally stage is a pretty punishing place - for the cars but also for photographers! The track is cut into chalk stone, which makes it very dusty, after each time I left the stage I looked like I’d been floured. It is also very rutty in places, and several of the 80 or so cars that entered picked up damage, some of it fixable but for some it was terminal. That didn’t stop most drivers from pushing though, and giving the spectators a good show - especially over the jump!