It’s more important than ever for women to have safe spaces in which to heal, grow and connect with each other. We have lived through a period of collective trauma, a war waged mostly in the columns of newspapers. Every week there seems to be another victim statement, another abuser named, another body found. Added to this is the personal trauma we have all endured as women in an unequal society; whether it’s a wolf whistle on the street or a pattern of abuse woven into the structure of our workplace. What do we do with all this experience? What can we do?
A women-led group in Bristol is offering support, community and the tools needed to make the journey towards healing. Rebel Girls Club hopes to “uplift, inspire, help and encourage all women to break free from the shackles of patriarchy”.
“Our 'Self-love and Confidence course' is completely radiant with incredible practices, workshops, exercises and deep personal work which will provide tools for women that they can choose to use for life,” says Jess Aurora, one of the leaders and founders of the group. “This is not just a 6 week course; it is actually a lifelong sisterhood that will always be there for you regardless of what is going on. We explore many different modalities of healing and wellbeing from yoga and meditation, to journaling and CBT techniques.”
With mental health issues such as anxiety and PTSD at an all-time high among women and girls, Rebel Girls Club is offering an alternative model to traditional therapy or counselling services. “We have discovered that women are tired of the worn-out ways they can get support and connect with each other,” says Jess. “Real healing, confidence, clarity and joy comes from being open and feeling safe, valued, seen and held. The previous courses have been absolutely incredible, and it has been an immense journey since we launched last March.”
Another aim of the group is to remove the stigma around attending ‘support groups’ or reaching out for help, which is so often a barrier to women’s healing. Dani Tippins, co-founder and course leader, says: “Rebel Girls Club is fun, it's silly, it's creative yet it is also healing, thought provoking, meaningful and deep.
“Any person socialized to be a woman will have been given messages throughout their life that affect them negatively and hold them back in one way or another. From objectification on every corner, to racial bias and abuse, to the pay gap, the constant pressure, domestic abuse, rape, internalised misogyny. I could go on forever about how women constantly face horrific challenges and oppression.”
The purpose of Rebel Girls Club is not to overcome or solve these issues, as “we don't believe they are ours to overcome,” Jess goes on to explain. Instead, they are offering an antidote to the oppressive forces of silence and isolation many women have suffered throughout life: “a safe, non-judgemental, open, playful and meaningful sense of belonging. We talk deep, think deep, discuss solutions and find connection; this helps women feel less alone in a world which seems increasingly isolating.”