OUTcast: On Being Queer and a Child Sexual Abuse Survivor panel in DC

Posting a few photos from the October 12, 2018 OUTcast: On being queer and a Child Sexual Abuse Survivor moderated by Indira Henard (Executive Director, DC Rape Crisis Center), panel featuring Ignacio Rivera (Founder of The Heal Project), Ahmad Greene-Hayes (Founder of Children of Combahee), and Aishah Shahidah Simmons (Creator of #LoveWITHAccountability) discussion on the intersections of queer identity and child sexual abuse survivor-hood.

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On Kevin Spacey & Recentering the Dialogue

For decades upon decades LGBTQIA anti-sexual violence activists have worked TIRELESSLY to stop the vicious homophobic and transphobic conflation of sexual violence with sexual orientation and gender identity.

Rather than focus on ending sexual violence routinely committed against children and adults, especially those who are the most marginalized, attention is focused on why someone is LGBTQIA.

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This is one of many reasons why Kevin Spacey's coming out of the celluloid closet responses to being accused of causing harm 30 years ago to a 14-year old boy are despicable and unprincipled. What the HELL does his (FINALLY) living as an out gay man have to do with his attempted sexual misconduct with a minor twelve years his junior? These are separate issues.

I do not want to hear about sexual exploration and I write as a unapologetic Black lesbian/queer woman child sexual abuse and adult rape survivor who also explored her sexuality as a teenager. I want to hear about adult accountability. PERIOD.

LGBTQIA children and teenagers are some of the most vulnerable to being sexually violated by adults.

If you are looking for resources to help you get a grasp of sexual violence outside of the heterosexual cisgender man/boy harming the cisgender woman/girl, here are three of several: sibling survivor/comrade/friend Amita Swadhin's Mirror Memoirs project has collected over 40 (to date) oral her/hxstories/histories from queer and trans child sexual abuse survivors of color. What they are uncovering through this groundbreaking work is mind blowing. Sibling survivor/comrade/friend Ignacio G Rivera's The HEAL Project aims to prevent and end child sexual abuse by making visible the hidden tools used to guilt, shame, coerce and inflict violence onto children. Sibling survivor/comrade/friend Jennifer Patterson's edited award-winning anthology Queering Sexual Violence features multi-racial, multi-gender LGBTQIA survivors and activists whose writings are at the intersection of survivor status, race, sexuality, gender identity, mental health and disability.

Let's work to end ALL forms of sexual violence committed against ALL humans.

Featured on The Feminist Wire

One of my teacher's Toni Cade Bambara used to always say, "It's the community you want to name you."

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Full body bow of gratitude in honor of my very dear The Feminist Wire managing and associate editor sibling/comrade/friends for lifting up my name and labor in concert with others whose work both precedes me and also stands with my own in the anti-rape movementS. #NORape

#LoveWITHAccountability at WomanPreach!, Inc. & Children of Combahee's For the Sake of Our Children: Confronting Sexual Violence in Church Spaces

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What an honor for me to present about #LoveWITHAccountability, share and learn at WomanPreach!, Inc. and Children of Combahee's For the Sake of Our Children: Confronting Sexual Violence in Church Spaces gathering. It was a sacred, safe, and welcoming space for this Black queer Sufi Muslim raised, Vipassana Meditation practicing child sexual abuse and adult rape survivor woman to wade in very deep conversation with my Christian sisters and brothers. We listened, shared, and explored how to best address those horrific sexual violations of the body/mind/spirt that, if spoken at all, are often spoken in hush tones and on the margins. Full body deep bows to Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman, Ahmad Greene-Hayes, Sister Rev. Jené Colvin, and the entire organizing team for their unwavering commitment to break the unspeakable silences.

On Forgiveness

Too often child sexual abuse survivors, adult rape survivors and survivors of other of forms sexual violence are expected to forgive the harm doers (including the bystanders) without too much, if any accountability for the harm caused.

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Seeking accountable forgiveness is important. However, no harm doer should expect it just because they sought it.

It is the survivor who has the right to decide if and when they will accept the request.

Demanding or expecting forgiveness is another form of violence. Once again, the survivor is being asked to perform an action they may not be willing or even able to perform.

Forgiveness comes from within. It may happen in the absence of the harm doer(s) seeking it. It may not happen when the harm doer(s) seek it.

Forgiveness is an important journey and simultaneously, it is a complex process.

On Speed & Movement

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I call upon the wisdom of Toni Cade Bambara, who was one of teachers about speed and movement.

I'm grateful to live long enough to experience and witness parental accountability both last year and this week. This work plays a seismic role in my continued healing around child sexual abuse that first began in 1979. There are layers upon layers upon layers upon layers of this excruciatingly painful and radical self care work. It is consistently ongoing, often at a snail's pace. And yet, there's movement.

Love IS a Verb

LOVE shout out to my beloved partner Sheila who, without my asking, took a 2 ½ hour drive to hand deliver flowers, supported my getting out of the literal and metaphorical bed of depression to attend my 30th High School Reunion, and lovingly bared witness to part of my slow climb back up from the child sexual abuse legacy downward spiral.

I would not be able to do my public NO! The Rape Documentary and #LoveWITHAccountability anti-sexual violence work if I weren't doing my private anti-sexual violence work. All of this work is possible because of 25-years of therapy with a Black feminist licensed clinical psychologist, 15-year practice of vipassana meditation, AND the cultivated/chosen village.

Love IS A Verb.

Off the Grid to Journey Deep Within (January 10-February 12, 2017)

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People frequently ask me how I do the trauma specific work that I do in the world.  There are two specific unwavering and non-negotiable supports that literally enable me to do this work: therapy and vipassana meditation

Since 1992, one of my continuous core sources of support has been Dr. Clara Whaley-Perkins who is a licensed clinical Black feminist psychologist, author, and the founding executive director of the Life After Trauma Organization. Over the past two decades I've been able to journey far and deep within the sacred confines of Dr. Whaley-Perkins' office. 

Additionally, I've been a student of and practitioner of the teachings of Buddha through Vipassana Meditation, as taught by S.N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagi U Ba Khin since I completed my first ten-day vipassana mediation course in January 2003.  My first ten-day course was a transformational experience. I experienced this universal, non-sectarian technique/practice to be one (not the only) way to lead to one's own personal liberation.

Since my first vipassana meditation course course, I’ve had the opportunity to sit and/or serve courses every single year.  I've also worked diligently to establish a practice of sitting everyday, twice a day, for an hour at each sitting. This was not, and at times, it is still not an easy feat for me at all. However through lived experiences over the fourteen years since my first ten-day course, I’m learning that my daily practice of sitting must be non-negotiable. As one cleanses their body daily, I experientially learn that one must work diligently and consistently to purify the mind. A daily two-hour practice sometimes barely cleans the surface, let alone the depths.

#LoveWITHAccountability is a deeper continuation of the work that I began with my film NO! The Rape Documentary. It is also a product of the tools that I learned through my work with Dr. Whaley-Perkins and my practice of vipassana meditation. I talk about this in my interview on The Spin with my mother Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons and producer/host Esther Armah. I do not believe the concept for #LoveWITHAccountability would exist were it not for the consistently hardcore work that I've been doing since both 1992 when I first entered Dr. Whaley-Perkins' office and 2002 when I sat my first vipassana course. 

Therapy and vipassana meditation are integral components of my work. They are not separate from the work and should not be viewed as extra-curricular activities. My work would not exist without either one of them. 

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From January 10, 2017 through February 12, 2017, I will be off of the grid completely to sit a 30-day vipassana meditation course. This will be my second 30-day course. I took my first 30-day course in 2013. I am unwavering in my belief that my work during my first 30-day course gave me the final push that I needed to tackle my own child sexual abuse work with my family. 

To be clear, vipassana courses are not vacations, not by a long shot. They offer an in-depth period of time to do a compassionately rigorous self-examination that begins at 4:30am and ends at 9:00pm every single day. This work (including during rest periods and when one retires for the evening) is done without any contact with the outside world including: no reading, no talking, no music, no writing, no chanting, and/or no food after noon – unless you’re pregnant, diabetic, hypoglycemic or other special reasons. It is through this deep meditative work that I work diligently to emerge with more compassion and insight about myself and by extension my work in the world.

Ever since the early morning of November 9, 2016, I have vacillated about whether or not to cancel my participation in this 30-day course so that I could bear witness to this painful inauguration and participate in protests in response to it. I decided to move forward with my plans that were confirmed in August 2016. These struggles will continue and my affirmation is that I will be able to engage in them with more insight, compassion, and mettā.  

May All Beings Be Happy.