Created by child sexual abuse (CSA) and adult rape survivor, award-winning filmmaker/ cultural worker, and international lecturer Aishah Shahidah Simmons, #LoveWITHAccountability examines how the silence around child sexual abuse in the familial institution plays a direct role in creating a culture of sexual violence in all other institutions-- religious, academic, activist, political and professional.
The Just Beginnings Collaborative, NoVo Foundation-funded project grew out of Aishah's personal incest healing work. Demanding a conversation with her divorced parents about their lack of response to her being sexually abused as a child, Aishah signed "Love WITH Accountability" in virtually every communiqué to them. In doing so, Aishah was trying to emphasize that her deep love for her parents could not shield their lack of accountability for the sexual violence she endured as a child and their subsequent 30-year cover up.
#LoveWITHAccountability examines how accountability is a powerful and necessary form of love needed to address child sexual abuse. (CSA). Its' focus is on tackling the global epidemic of child sexual abuse through the experiences, insights, and perspectives of diasporic Black child sexual abuse survivors and advocates. The project is culturally specific but accessible to many CSA survivors and advocates, all treated equally regardless of race, ethnicity, and culture. There is space for sharing testimonies and solutions for creating accountability for the violence. #LoveWITHAccountability is part of a community response added to, but separate from the criminal justice system.
Addressing and eradicating CSA must be placed on national race, gender and sexuality agendas as a societal (global) ill that impacts ALL of us either directly or indirectly. #LoveWITHAccountability is building and creating space for diasporic Black CSA survivors and CSA advocates to use their lived experiences, testimonies, and work as the foundation to co-envision how we can eradicate CSA. When we unapologetically shout and advocate for #BlackLivesMatter, we must be inclusive of CSA and other forms of intra-racial gender-based violence including but not limited to adult rape and domestic violence. Ending CSA should always be one of the key goals for liberation.
Aishah officially launched #LoveWITHAccountability in 2016, thirty-seven years after she was first sexually molested by her paternal step-grandfather. An intergenerational group of twenty-nine diasporic Black cisgender women, gender non-conforming people, trans and cisgender men joined her on The Feminist Wire in exploring what love WITH accountability looks like in the context of child sexual abuse. The group included survivors, advocates, and one former bystander, Aishah's mother, who wrote publicly for the first time about acknowledging what happened to Aishah and the three-decades cover up.
Since the launch of #LoveWITHAccountability, Aishah has traveled extensively across the United Stated engaging in public and private intergenerational conversations. The presentations about ending child sexual abuse explore models of "accountable love." Work planned for 2018 and 2019 includes editing an anthology based upon the online forum, and hosting a national convening at the University of Pennsylvania titled, From NO! The Rape Documentary to #LoveWITHAccountability: Building on a Movement.