The self-care and self-defence manual for Feminist Activists has been translated from Spanish into English, via a collaborative process initiated by CREA. They were inspired to embark on this effort because they saw the value inherent in the text and felt it should be as widely read as possible. The manual reflects the thoughts and knowledge that feminist activists have been debating and sharing with their peers, articulately bringing together a number of issues in a journey of self-exploration. Originally developed by Marina Bernal, the manual seeks to ensure that activists, and all women, understand their own needs, vulnerabilities, and potential in an honest way.
For the manual to be effective, the author notes that the following aspects are important to consider:
- You are your own material for study and reflection; your own experiences are your resources.
- Through introspection, identifying the various social orders affecting your life, it is possible to gradually identify the ways in which women activists can protect themselves.
- This does not mean imposing new demands on an already overwhelmed 'to do' list, however, nor believing that you have no problems whatsoever.
- Belief is required in the possibility of achieving all that is being fought for, to visualise that and make it a reality within you.
The manual is broken down into six main sections, with regular questions and space for answers. Chapter one is entitled 'Recognising who I am', which helps women to identify and become more self-aware of the various dimensions of their identity – as a women, as an activist, within the home, etc. Following this, the chapter 'Recognising the violence we face' examines violence within women's environments, talking about recognisable forms of gender violence, as well as violence in places considered non-violent, like our own workplaces.
Chapter three is carries the title 'Self-inflicted violence'. For women who have often been expected to place others before themselves, it is necessary, the manual says, to reconcile this with one's own self. This chapter explores the ways in which a lack of self-care can translate into self-inflicted violence. The next chapter is called 'Optimising our vital strengths', and details the various streams that converged in the making of this manual.
Chapter five covers psychological defence, physical defence, step-by-step guides to assessing dangerous situations, and legal information. The final chapter, 'Resources', includes information relating to specific areas, such as one's relationship, work, as well as critical situations.