BIPOC Survivors Can Find Community at The Hive
“Nothing for us, without us,” is the driving philosophy for Ashley Thomas, founder of The Hive Community Circle. Since 2015, when The Hive was founded, Thomas used this philosophy to relate her deeply personal experience as a survivor of sexual assault to assist other women and girls who have been through similar experiences. The Hive Community Circle is an advocacy group for women and girls who have survived sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking in South Carolina. It focuses on culturally-specific services for the Black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) community.
The Hive Community Circle offers a wide variety of services, including: survivor advocacy, emergency financial services, holistic support, and wraparound services. Wraparound services are resources that go beyond the Hive’s capacity, like other social services from the state, employment assistance, continuing education, and needs that impact survivors’ self-sufficiency. The Hive also offers peer-based healing circles that cater to BIPOC survivors. “We don’t use westernized terminology that upholds barriers for survivors of color,” says Thomas. These circles are divided by age — one for the ages of 11-17, and one for survivors over the age of 18.
Thomas decided to form The Hive to fill a gap in services she has seen across the country. As a military spouse, she has lived different places and saw the same issues repeatedly. She points to statistics to show that 60 percent of Black girls will experience sexual assault by the age of 18, and that Black women are three times more likely to be killed by intimate partner violence. “After my experience and 10 years of working in child welfare, I saw consistent assault and partner violence in BIPOC communities,” she says. “The Hive was created out of these voids that existed in the community — we are here to address a need.”
The Hive continues to grow every year. While COVID changed what growth looks like in some ways, it brought more growth in other areas, such as providing telehealth advocacy support to help them serve survivors beyond Richland County. “In the next five years, it will be great for us to have a space in which we are able to provide wrap around support and work in close collaboration with other systems and entities that survivors interact with. Data continues to show an alarming correlation between, systemic barriers, posing a major threat for the safety, well-being, and economic stability of survivors being attained,” says Thomas.
Beyond physical and systemic growth, Thomas hopes to grow the bilingual services the Hive can offer, and staff Spanish-speaking individuals. “We want to create Spanish versions of our programs, especially ones that seek to foster healthy relationships and increase parent-teen communication,” says Thomas. Expanding The Hive’s outreach to other marginalized communities, including LGBT+ is in their strategic vision as well. All of the programs, services, and outreach done by the Hive is survivor-driven and informed by the experiences of those who have lived them.
To continue the upward growth trend, the Hive needs sustainable support. While they receive funding from grants, national organizations, angel investors, and local funders, the Hive does not receive any state or federal funds. Thomas specifically wants to make sure the community is aware of the Hive Community Circle and knows their services are there and available for people who need them. While the Hive does not offer 24-hour crisis support, they are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by email at email@example.com, by phone at 803-888-7725, on social media platforms, and via the contact form on their website, www.thehivecc.org.
As Sexual Assault Awareness Month is approaching in April, The Hive is grateful that they are able to host their Annual SC Survivors Summit April 16-17, 2021 after having to cancel 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year the event will be virtual. To learn more and register, visit the website at www.scsurvivorssummit.com.