Like many students, Ohio State University senior Blaire Teaford uses Spotify playlists to make her trips back and forth to school bearable. Unlike many, Teaford’s playlist ended up serving a grander purpose.
Teaford is a sexual assault survivor. While interning with the university’s Sexual Civility and Empowerment program for survivors of assault, she transformed her personal playlist into a tool for empowerment.
“I was listening to a bunch of songs that had helped me through my own journey as a survivor, and I really wanted to broaden that list, because I was listening to the same five songs on repeat," Teaford says. "I just thought, 'What a cool idea it would be to have this list of everyone's input of their songs that had empowered them and made them feel strong.'”
So Teaford reached out to friends and other survivors, asking for their suggestions. The playlist, "By Survivors For Survivors," is now a widespread collaborative effort, where survivors throughout the university can contribute. (You can listen to the playlist below.)
That, Teaford, is a key part of its power.
"A huge part of the playlist was that it's pulling music from so many other survivors so that it shows you are not alone," she says. "There are so many other people that know what you're going through, these are the songs that helped them, and that we're all in this together."
There are no limits on what type of genres or artists are allowed, though the current selections lean pop—Selena Gomez, Sia and Frank Turner appear multiple times, alongside Alicia Keys and The Beatles.
Teaford says that, listening through the 50-odd songs, some themes start to emerge.
"They're about working through tough times or about coming out of a hard relationship, and those are a lot of things that survivors can relate to, because it might not be just from sexual assault," Teaford says. "It might be domestic abuse, or dating violence, or stalking. It might be a variety of different sexual violence issues, and a lot of these songs relate to them."