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Posted 17th June

Beyond Therapy 2024

Beyond Therapy 2024

In February of this year, we hosted our second celebration of Beyond Therapy: a festival of activism against childhood sexual abuse. The Green House founded Beyond Therapy festival, which combines art, activism and research, so that we can challenge attitudes towards child sexual abuse and re-imagine our society’s existing response.

The theme for 2024’s festival, as requested by young people from The Green House, was ‘Education.’ With proposed changes to the RSHE curriculum on the horizon, now is a particularly relevant moment to reflect on the important workshops, panels and performances that we had the privilege of hosting this year alongside our festival partner, The Flying Child.

The festival highlighted the importance of professional response to disclosures – and the damage that can be caused when education workers get it wrong. Young Empowered Women from The Women’s Centre Cornwall shared their experiences of disclosing in their workshop ‘This is what I needed – a young person’s perspective on disclosure.’ Meanwhile our plenary panel from The Flying Child ‘The Power of One – Society’s Shame, Not Mine’ emphasised the potential difference that one professional can make.

Another key theme was perceptions of masculinity, and how these attitudes can endanger people of all genders. Our panel ‘Schools and Masculinities’ considered the significance of celebrity misogynists like Andrew Tate, the most googled name in 2022, and the sexual assault and peer abuse endemic in schools which is mostly perpetuated by young men. We heard from schools-based practitioner and masculinities podcaster Lewis Wedlock, researcher on abuse prevention and perpetrator transformation in schools Nate Eisenstadt, The Green House survivor voice co-ordinator Ali Avery and a young person’s VOICE group member. Meanwhile, MoMENtum Devon’s panel ‘Experiences of education on male survivor’s lives’ highlighted the ways that masculinity can be weaponised to dismiss and silence male survivor experience.

Researchers across the festival called for RSHE education that extends beyond the boundaries of RSHE classes and adopts a whole school approach. We heard from Tender on the challenges, successes and impact of prevention education in their panel ‘Unlocking Prevention Education’, while NSPCC’s Together for Childhood project presented research on the impact of ‘Whole School Approaches to Preventing Sexual Harm.’

Above all, festival participants affirmed the value of creativity and the arts in education spaces, survivor support groups and research. Integrate UK’s workshop ‘Connecting in Colour’ explored how poetry and art can open conversations around child sexual abuse, race, gender and sexuality in education settings. Sexual Health Circus ran a participatory partner acro-balance workshop to demonstrate how circus skills can be used to teach healthy relationships and consent. Barnado’s used mask-making as a tool for understanding coping tools and external behaviour presentations in young people with experiences of trauma. Meanwhile Creative Minds Taunton’s playful workshop used toy creation as a means to begin conversations around inner emotions. We were also privileged to see young people from The Green House sharing their stories through poetry readings, stand-up comedy and panel participation. Once again, the festival affirmed our commitment to the arts as a tool for recovery.

Childhood and adolescence is a time of rapid change, where so many young people face anxieties around acceptance and rejection – and so it’s crucial to listen to and be guided by young people and research when considering what kind of schools-based interventions can make a difference.

The full programme for this year’s festival can be found here

 

The Green House founded Beyond Therapy Festival in 2021. It is our annual cross-sector event designed to break the silence around child sexual abuse. Between 2023 and 2025 we are proud to deliver the festival as part of Upfront Survivors, a partnership project supporting the child sexual abuse survivor community to lead cultural change through creating visible survivor-led community spaces.

UpFront Survivors is funded through the Support for Victims and Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (SVSCSA) Fund 2022/25 and developed and delivered as a partnership by Viv Gordon Company, SARSAS, Coventry University and The Green House. This year’s festival was part funded by Arts Council England. 

Photos by Lee Cooper Photography

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