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.

On Incest, Migraines, Vipassana Meditation, Therapy, Healing & Cleansing

The onset of my living with severe migraine headaches began when I was ten years old. I firmly believe that my headaches were a physical reaction to my being repeatedly molested by my grandfather and never removed from the environment. My body was screaming because I could not. After twenty years of being completely dependent on over the counter and prescribed medication for my headaches, I went cold turkey because of deep concern about the impact of the side effects on my body. I was fortunate enough to have a lifestyle that enabled me to ride the headaches out through shutting everything down for the day or two when they would emerge. Two years later, I took my first ten-day vipassana meditation course in 2002. My work with a Black feminist licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in sexual trauma and my dedicated meditation practice have served as anchors through the headache and other storms.

Last autumn, thanks to the generosity of my dear friend Enid Lee, I was introduced to a doctor (Dr. James Cartwright) who drastically changed my hardcore essentially vegan diet. Since that time, my headaches have almost disappeared.

I spent a significant part of yesterday afternoon and evening revising an essay that I’ve struggled to write for five-years. It’s the first essay that I’ve ever written that interrogates What it means to both learn and be encouraged to interact with, deeply love, and care for someone who terrorized me as a child for two years?

I tried to get out of writing this “peace” for years and my sister-survivor, comrade and friend Jennifer Patterson gently supported and encouraged me to “go there” in print in her forthcoming edited anthology Queering Sexual Violence.

This morning I awakened with a headache that’s not quite a migraine but it is intense. I haven’t had one in a quite a while. I sat on the mediation cushion and observed the sensations. Usually, I struggle with feeling defeated when headaches occur. This morning, I actually feel liberated. I understand that this is part of my process. I went to a very deep space and buried place to unearth what I revised and sent at 12:31a.m. This headache this Thursday morning is part of the cleansing.