Love WITH Accountability: Digging Up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse, AK Press | Fall 2019

Edited by Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Foreword by Darnell L. Moore

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Despite the current survivor-affirming awareness around sexual violence, child sexual abuse, most notably when it’s a family member or friend, is still a very taboo topic. There are approximately 42 million child sexual abuse survivors in the U.S. and millions of bystanders who look the other way as the abuse occurs and cover for the harm-doers with no accountability. Documentary filmmaker and survivor of child sexual abuse and adult rape, Aishah Shahidah Simmons invites diasporic Black people to join her in transformative storytelling that envisions a world that ends child sexual abuse without relying on the criminal justice system. The anthology features compelling writings by child sexual abuse survivors, advocates, and Simmons’s mother who underscores the detrimental impact of parents/caregivers not believing their children when they disclose their sexual abuse. This collection explores disrupting the inhumane epidemic of child sexual abuse, humanely. 

Contributor roll call: Liz S. Alexander, Qui Dorian Alexander, Esther Armah, Kenyette Tisha Barnes, Luz Marquez-Benbow, Edxie Betts, Sevonna Brown, Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, Rosa Cabrera, Nicole “Kqueen” Denson, Dr. Worokya Duncan, CeCelia Falls, Zoë Flowers, Kim Gaubault, Alicia Sanchez Gill, Dr. Kai M. Green, Adenike A. Harris and Peter J. Harris, Ahmad Greene-Hayes, Indira Henard, Monika Johnson-Hostler, Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, Tracy Ivy, Tanisha Esperanza Jarvis, e nina jay, Cyreé Jarelle Johnson, Kalimah Johnson, Najma Johnson, Dr. Ferentz Lafargue, Tonya Lovelace, Thea Matthews, Darnell L. Moore, Dr. Danielle R. Moss, Chevara Orrin, Mel Anthony Phillips, Jey’nce Mizarahi Poindexter, Ignacio G Hutía Xeiti Rivera, Dr. Lynn Roberts, Loretta J. Ross, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Farah Tanis, Tashmica Torok, and Tracy D. Wright

Praise for Love WITH Accountability

"With this brave and healing anthology of truth-telling about sexual abuse within Black families, Aishah Shahidah Simmons sets an example for all families. If we could all raise just one generation of children without violence or the threat of violence, who knows what might be possible?" —Gloria Steinem

Aishah Shahidah Simmons's Love WITH Accountability: Digging Up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse is a book that is wonderfully and sadly timeless. Simmons and the courageously skilled authors she's assembled write their bodies, memories and imaginations into calcified cracks and bleeding silences.  Each piece opens up the absolute terror and consequence of sexual abuse of children, but somehow the entire book is as interested in looking back as it is at looking forward. Love With Accountability reminds me that willful people make liberation happen and willful people and willful art can obliterate terror. —Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir

"Love WITH Accountability: Digging Up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse" is an honoring of our ancestors who dared to struggle, a gift to our movements fighting to create thriving communities and a guide for future generations to continue this work. Through Simmons self-work and community of activists, leaders and scholars, they have produced a collection of writings to expose painful truths, while also providing a roadmap for accountability that is based on love, not more false solutions. This book is for anyone who is willing to do the difficult, yet necessary work to end the global epidemic of child sexual abuse." —Charlene A. Carruthers, author of Unapologetic: A Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements

“Aishah Shahidah Simmons is always on time. Her film NO! helped me understand myself as a survivor. Now she offers us Love WITH Accountability, a book that guides readers through a new terrain of healing from childhood sexual abuse.... We are not alone, and we don't have to abandon love in order to live in justice. We have each other, and we are claiming our lives and our families, our transformation, and our healing, together. Thank you for this sharp, tender, reshaping of a text.” —adrienne maree brown, author of Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good

I am still grappling with my childhood sexual abuse. Love WITH Accountability: Digging Up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse is an invitation for every survivor and me to take back our lives from the shame of this silent epidemic. The sacred collection of truths is a spiritual bath for every soul who’s been impacted by loss, regret, and sorrow. I am changed forever by this anthology, and I am thankful to have a space to go to that looks and sounds like me regarding things I’ve never wanted to talk about with others. —Elle Hearns, Executive Director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute

"To say that this anthology is long overdue doesn’t even begin to cover it. For decades, and lifetimes, LGBTQIAA survivors of color have been the backbone of the anti-violence movement and frequently their voices have been pushed into the cracks of the mainstream. A fierce offering of complex, powerful, necessary narratives and critique, Love WITH Accountability: Digging Up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse dreams a new future into being: one where survivors are centered, and where we can dare to believe that accountability and true justice is possible. This is a gift of a book and the ripples of its’ impact will be with us for decades to come." —Jennifer Patterson, editor of Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Violence Movement

It is time for us to update our definition of love. . . . Not only have the contributors to this anthology found the bravery to share their survival stories, they have also developed practical and urgent solutions to one of the of most pervasive forms of violence impacting our communities at this time in history. . . . This is a book that should be taught in all classes that address gender, violence, family structure, parenting, race, sexuality, disability and equality and read in organizations that address any of those issues as well. Thank you Aishah Simmons for once again revealing an urgent paradigm of healing, a new and necessary definition of love.—Alexis Pauline Gumbs, PhD, author of M Archive: After the End of the World

As a society, we’ve gravitated toward solutions to end sexual violence and child sexual abuse that are more about shortcut and hiding and less about compassion and truth. Through their own suffering, healing, thriving, and deep wisdom, Aishah Shahidah Simmons and her contributors to the Love WITH Accountability: Digging Up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse anthology offer us a path forward that is real, compassionate, and true.  This work fills me with hope!  —Terri Poore, Policy Director, Raliance (National Alliance to End Sexual Violence)

[…] With Love WITH Accountability: Digging Up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse, Aishah Shahidah Simmons has done it yet again. And she brings an even greater team of radical powerhouses with her this time around. Let us rejoice in this gift of, as Darnell L. Moore notes in his “Foreword” to the anthology, “documented practices that might move survivors in the direction of healing” and “critical and radical tools that […] transform harm doers.” Let us rejoice. Love WITH Accountability is here. —Heidi R. Lewis, PhD, Director and Associate Professor of Feminist & Gender Studies at Colorado College