Repost: Accountability to Ourselves and Our Children

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Content Notice: This article is part of the #LoveWITHAccountability forum on The Feminist Wire. The purpose of this forum and the #LoveWITHAccountability project is to prioritize child sexual abuse, healing, and justice in national dialogues and work on racial justice and gender-based violence. Several of the featured articles in this forum give an in-depth and, at times, graphic examination of rape, molestation, and other forms of sexual harm against diasporic Black children through the experiences and work of survivors and advocates. The articles also offer visions and strategies for how we can humanely move towards co-creating a world without violence. Please take care of yourself while reading.

By Ignacio Rivera
Love is overwhelming. I’m not referring to the act or ability to, but the very idea of it. It holds many meanings—interpretations. Love is subjective but love should be good—right? In that good love, how does accountability show up? What does love with accountability look like? Specifically, what does it look like in the context of survivorship? The practice of accountability has gained more attention in the last several years. We sometimes revel in the philosophy of accountability but the lived experience of what that looks likes varies. I guess you can say that love and accountability are subjective. Dually, we may have universal guidelines that aid in our interpretation of what these things mean separately and united. Aishah Shahidah Simmons, a long-time comrade and a fellow recipient of the Just Beginning Collaborative Fellowship for child sexual abuse survivors of color, asked me to contribute to her project and ponder this quandary.

Louie on Outing CSA

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Louie on Outing CSA

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse, survivor, rape 

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{Description}: Afro-Latino Cis man, with short dark curly hair, full beard and mustache, wearing a floral tank top with white and black stripe trim. He is sitting in front of a white wall/backdrop, speaking to audience/camera. 

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse, survivor, rape


My name is Louie A. Ortiz-Fonseca and I’m an afro-boricua artist and activist.

I’m almost turning 40 and I’m a father of a 13 year old son.

I identify as cisgender male.

My pronouns are he, him, his.

And my sexual orientation is gay, sometimes I identify as queer.

I live in DC by way of Philly.

I gotta say that because I’m Philly born and raised.

And I’m father of a 13 year old beautiful son.

…and I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse. When I was thirteen, I was sexually molested, raped, and sexually abused by a close family member. And I was afraid to tell anyone for many many years. And when I did finally tell someone, it was on a meme that I posted on facebook. And the response that I got was overwhelming. But the one response that made me cry, that made me fall apart, but allowed me to put myself back together, was when someone, a stranger, commented and said, “I believe you.”

#OutingCSA #HEAL2End #Survivor


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“Our society’s view on sex is important to understanding, preventing and dealing with child sexual abuse. We live in a hyper-sexual society that exposes sexual imagery but does not talk about it. Sex education in public schools has almost been erased. In the midst of this silence, we are left to form our sexuality in secret. This culture of silence and shame around sex and sexuality creates a breeding ground for child sexual abuse.”

– From The HEAL Project’s website.

Hari: Ignacio, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today and for all the work you do. Can you start by just giving a brief background on yourself and how you got involved with work around childhood sexual assault (CSA)?

Ignacio: Thank you for talking with me. Well, I’m a New Yorker currently living in Baltimore. I’m a long-time activists with roots in grassroots organizing. I’ve worked across many movements and continue to work in trans, POC and sexual liberation movements. I’m also a performer and that is where my work around CSA pretty much began.

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Repost–Personal Healing as a Public Project: Ignacio Rivera’s Story

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by Darkness to Light on
September 22, 2016

As child sexual abuse survivors begin to stand up and speak out about their own experiences, they are filling the world with their perspectives. One of those survivors, Ignacio Rivera, hopes to not only share a personal experience with abuse, but amplify the voices of others. Through The HEAL Project, Rivera is giving survivors a platform and encouraging healing. The HEAL Project aims to prevent and end CSA by making visible the hidden tools used to guilt, shame, coerce and inflict violence onto children. The project’s primary strategies are: building community, critical analysis, social media campaign, mobilization and education. We asked Rivera about The HEAL Project and about giving survivors a voice to share their story and heal themselves and others.

D2L: Tell us a little bit about The HEAL Project.
Rivera: The HEAL Project is a project I began 14 years ago. In 1999, after having done years of one-on-one therapy and group therapy, I began the process of reconstructing a poem I wrote to my perpetrator into a larger body of work. In 2002, I performed Lágrimas de Cocodrilo /Crocodile Tears— a personal account of my childhood sexual abuse and incest survivorship. I toured with the show in the U.S. and abroad for four years. I wanted the show to be more than a show. I wanted audience members to interact with me, give me feedback and participate in the newly developed HEAL Project—Hidden Encounters Altered Lives. The project’s goal was to connect people, specifically cisgender females who were sexually abused by other cisgender females. Although I currently identify as transgender, I endured my abuse as a young girl and teenager. When I was coming to terms with what had happened to me…

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Sex (Ed) is Episode 3

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[Content Warning- sexuality, sexual violence]

Sex (ED) Is Episode is ready! Thank you to our participants who openly shared with The HEAL Project,  their thoughts and fears about sex eduction with their children–

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So as a parent, I will continue to practice comprehensive sex education with my child. I have already been doing that, in a way that’s incremental and appropriate for my child’s age.

When my child has questions, I answer them in a way that’s educational as well as positive, and I take any questions that my child has.

My biggest fear is that my child might ask something that might feel it’s beyond the age that my child is and then struggling to make decisions about how to talk about things that might not be something that my child’s ready to hear.

The other fear I have is that my child will go to school in a place where they might not be as accepting of comprehensive sex education and then of course want to share the knowledge that they’ve learned and then that might make teachers and other people uncomfortable.

And so my fear is how will we address that. One thing I have done already is told his teachers about what I do for a living. And so just making them aware that, hey, this is a child that’s going to be talking about sex most likely, and in a way that might be different than how other people talk about it.


As a parent, I will just try to continue to be courageous and have conversations about sex ed with my son.

When he was five he asked me where babies come from and I was so polarized, I didn’t know what to say. And then he followed up and said, “does doctor put it in her?”, and I said “if she’s lucky”. Cuz I had to make it a joke and then I sent him out the room.

But now that he’s thirteen, I plan on continuing to be more courageous in that conversation, because he was courageous enough to ask me.


As a parent, I have talked to my twin daughters about their bodies, boundaries, and sexuality since they were very young.

And they are now 16 years old and we had discussions about sex, about consent, about what feels good about what doesn’t, about what they’re scare of.

And as a survivor of sexual assault as a child, I remember when I was seventeen and I held them for the first time that, the first thought I had when I held them was that I was terrified that they were gonna go through what I had gone through, and I was gonna do whatever was in my power to prevent that.

And I think the whole experience of being a mother to them has been to realize that I can’t, you know, protect completely, and that the only thing I can do is to have an open conversation with them, and also that if they do experience sexual assault or violation that it’s not the end of their life.

And I think when they were born and when they were small children it felt that way. It felt that if it happened to them, you know, I didn’t know how I was gonna go on or, hmm, yeah.

And I think that’s been the learning curve and the learning process. And what’s been amazing is just to see that, you know, we do have an open conversation about it and that they are joyous and comfortable in their bodies and love to talk to me about, you know, making out, and how happy they are and how good it feels.

So that’s been really great.

Watch.Share.Join. – join us in lifting up Comprehensive Sex Education as a strategy against child sexual abuse. Submit a video TODAY! 

Kai on Outing CSA

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Kai on Outing CSA

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse, survivor 

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Black trans man, brown skinned, with a dark Cesar haircut, wearing a black t-shirt, sitting in front of a white wall/backdrop, speaking to audience/camera.

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse, survivor

Hello, my name is Kai.

I’m a business intelligence software engineer.

I am 42 years old.

I am black.

I am a transgender man.

My pronouns are he, him, and his.

I identify as panexual.

…and I am a survivor of child sexual abuse.

#OutingCSA #HEAL2End #Survivor


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Danielle On Outing CSA

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CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse, survivor

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Black woman with short dark hair, sitting on square-patterned sofa, wearing long ankh symbol earnings, silver necklace, pink sweatshirt and a red hanging lament around her neck, talking  into the camera/to audience

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse, survivor

My name is Danielle Gilmore

I am a program coordinator by profession but a student of life— forever

I am 32 year old

I’m Black

My gender pronouns are her, she and hers

I am bisexual

I currently live in the South but I am from the Midwest

I pray

I meditate

I ride a bike pretty regularly

I run a tad bit

and I am also a survivor of child sexual abuse

#OutingCSA #HEAL2End #Survivor

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Sex (Ed) is Episode 2

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Content/Trigger Warning: Sex, Sexuality 

Sex (ED) Is Episode is ready! Thank you to our participants who openly answer the question–

“What is COMPREHENSIVE sex education?’
Ruth: Caucasian with glasses, a black shirt and necklace on. 
Comprehensive sexuality education, for me, is learning about yes’s and learning about no’s. It’s learning about a full range of what’s out there and what’s possible for humans in a way that isn’t judgemental but let’s us decide who we want to be.

And that includes, of course, not engaging in any sexual activity or partners, if we don’t want to. Because that’s one of the options that’s out there as well. It’s about understanding our bodies
and recognizing that nothing about sex, or about STI’s, or about not having sex, or not having STI’s is a punishment or getting what you deserve or not getting what you deserve. But rather it’s a lifelong process. It’s a part of who we are. It’s part of the interactions we have with people.

And it removes a great deal of stigma and it kind of let’s us be, and decide who we are and let that change all the time.

Brooke: African American with natural hair, read lipstick and a nose ring. 
Comprehensive sex ed is compassionate. It’s facts. It’s open. It’s fluid. It is an ongoing conversation. It is inquisitive. I don’t think we should assume that kids don’t know and aren’t capable of having complex conversations around the issues of life. They’re much wiser and intuitive than we give them credit for.

Chiara: Caucasian, with pink hair, a black baseball hat and large hoop earrings.
Comprehensive sex ed is learning about sex, not just as a physical experience but as an emotional and spiritual experience. And learning about sex as a whole host of behaviors that happens within oneself and with other people; with a center on pleasure and on sex feeling good physically, mentally, spiritually.

Video Created by CARE Strategies

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Sex (Ed) is episode 1

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CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: child sexual abuse, sex, sexuality

Sex (Ed) is social media campaign asks, “When did you learn about sex.”

Marla–Black woman, bald head, earings, nose ring and necklace.

When I learned about sex I was in the second grade. My mother was a catalyst for me learning about sex, because she was a teenage mother, she really wanted me to make sure that I didn’t get pregnant. So at second grade she started teaching me all about the body, what sex was, I think she gave me the book, hm, one of those books that had all sorts of pictures of, you know, what it’s like to go through puberty, what women’s bodies look like, what mean’s bodies look like And so that was really helpful for me. So basically I learned all about sex from my mother.

Louie–Latino man with beard, short hair, and neon flower printed shirt on.

When I learned about sex was when my sister told me to freak my cousin and I was about seven years old.

Robin–White woman, with visual impairment, chin lenght hair, and blue shirt on

When I learned about sex was, well, there really wasn’t one time that I learned about sex. There was that time in fifth grade science when the teacher was reading an article about AIDS and she had to stop to explain intercourse. There was also that time that my mom was reading me a book about what happens to boys and girls when they grow up. The problem is she never told me about what boys and girls do together after they grow up, let alone girls and girls, boys and boys, or anybody else for that matter. After that, I pretty much taught myself about sex by reading books in the library and some very timely articles that came in Braille teen magazine that I got when I was twelve or thirteen, that had a whole glossary of sex terms, boy, I was happy for that.

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Shameeka on Outing CSA

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CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse, rape, IPV, survivor


Black woman with long earnings, a white sleeveless blouse, and wearing her locs tied up,  sitting in front of a wood panel backdrop speaking into camera/to audience.

I am Black and a woman

Born in the Bronx

Spent my entire adult life in Baltimore

I live in California now

I’m normally much more articulate

but this is the truth and the realness of the moment

My name is Shameeka Dream Smalling

I’m 35


A Jamaican living in America


Performance and healing artist


I am

This is

…a healing process

…My work

and I am a survivor of child sexual abuse, rape and intimate partner violence

#Outing CSA #HEAL2End #Survivor