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.

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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

Greg on Outing CSA

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Native man sitting in front of a wood panel backdrop. He has dark hair with a middle-hair-part that is pulled back. He is wearing two hanging white earnings. Has a black t-shirt on with the word Warrior showing.

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse, survivor

My name is Greg Grey Cloud

I am the co-founder of Wica Agli Native men against domestic and sexual violence

I’m 28

I’m Lakota and Dakota aka Native American

I’m a cis male

I live in Dakota and Lakota nations in South Dakota

I’m a brother. I”m a son and I’m a relative

…and I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse

#OutingCSA #HEAL2End #Survivor

Chiara– on Outing CSA

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CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse and incest, survivor

Fair-skinned Italian woman, with pink bangs, hoop earrings and a cap. Wearing a black hooded jacket and blue t-shirt, sitting on a blue couch with square print.

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

Hi my name is Chiara
I’m an artist, and a writer and an organizer
I’m also studying acupuncture

I’m 34
I’m Italian
I immigrated here as a teenager

my pronouns are she and her
and I identity as queer

I live in the Midwest right now
I’m also a mother to two teenage daughters that I had as a teenager
I’m also a survivor of child sexual abuse for my whole childhood by both my mother and my father

#Outing CSA #HEAL2End #Survivor

Colorlines interview about The HEAL Project Reposted

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HEAL Project Tackles Child Sexual Abuse Using Survivors’ Videos, Theater and Social Media

Survivor Ignacio Rivera’s HEAL Project aims to end child sexual abuse ‘by making visible the hidden tools used to guilt, shame, coerce and inflict violence onto children.’

A photo of Ignacio Rivera, wearing a black hoodie and a gray shirt, with hands clasped at chest, in front of a blue background
Ignacio Rivera 
Photo: Gabriel Garcia Roman

Ignacio Rivera—a child sexual abuse survivor as well as a “transgender, Two-Spirit, Black-Boricua Taíno and queer activist, writer, educator and artist”—has dedicated their life to breaking silences. With their new HEAL (Hidden Encounters Altered Lives) Project, Rivera is using theater, social media campaigns and sex education for parents and guardians to interrupt the cycle of this often buried form of abuse.

A Pervasive but Underreported Problem

Research about the incidence of child sexual abuse in the United States is often prefaced with a disclaimer about the likelihood of underreporting because of stigma. According to a 2010 report to Congress by the Department of Health and Human Services, of the 1.25 million children neglected or physically abused, 24 percent were sexually abused. This translates to approximately 1 in every 15 children.

The report also found that girls are much more likely to be sexually abused than boys, and Black and Hispanic children are abused at higher rates than their White counterparts. But the bottom line, Rivera says, is that “child sexual abuse is something that affects all of us. Someone you know is a survivor of child sexual abuse, or you are.”

Performance Art as Healing

Rivera has been sharing their own experience of child sexual abuse with audiences since 2001. What began as a poem became a one-person show called “Lágrimas del Cocodrilo” or “Crocodile Tears,” which Rivera toured with for four years. The show evolved over the years, incorporating more audience participation and interaction and opening the door for people to come out as survivors. “Once [after a show] I was in the bathroom washing my hands and this woman comes in. She stands there, looks at me and just loses it,” recalls Rivera. “She starts hysterically crying, falls to the floor and I hold her. [She says] ‘That’s my story, I’ve never told anyone.'” Rivera says they are often the first person that an audience member has talked to about their abuse and that those interactions led to the HEAL Project.

Making Visible the Hidden Tools

HEAL, which launched in January, has three components. The first is “Outing CSA,” a series of short videos of people identifying themselves by race, gender, sexuality, location, profession and their status as child sexual abuse survivors. The videos, says Rivera, are not about telling the story of the abuse itself but claiming the identity and experience. “There is no burying,” they say. “The shit sprouts. It comes up everytime.”

In addition to the video series, Rivera is working on a sex-education curriculum aimed at parents and guardians. “The culture of silence and shame around sex and sexuality creates a breeding ground for child sexual abuse,” Rivera has said. Rather than using what they call “fear-based approaches,” Rivera wants to use sex education as a tool for opening up honest dialogue between parents and guardians and their children. “When we think about sexuality in that context, we are teaching our children how to be better partners, better friends. [It’s] a cultural shift in the celebration of sexuality rather than shaming and hiding.”

Rivera has their own experiences building this kind of relationship with their daughter, who was born when they were 19. “The first four years of her life I was so losing it,” they recall. “In my teenage years I had already attempted suicide. When she was young, I thought about it every day. I wanted to die. But she was the thing that kept me going. As she approached the age I was when I was abused, it was really hard to parent. I didn’t want to see her naked, I didn’t want to change her diapers. But I started healing myself and got into therapy and I realized I needed to be open with her.”

Rivera says they enjoy an open relationship with their daughter, who is 26. They plan on traveling and talking with other parents and guardians to further shape the curriculum. “I want parents to tell me what they are afraid of, what they’ve talked to their kids about, [what] worked for [them], [what] didn’t, what [they’d] like to see.”

Rivera is also adamant about incorporating a race, class and queer analysis that makes sure their curriculum reaches marginalized communities. “With all of my work I center people of color, and queer and trans people,” they explain. “I feel like anyone who is at the margins [is] the most vulnerable for abuse.”

Pain and Progress

The last part of HEAL returns Rivera to their performance art roots with a theater project led by survivors. Rivera says that while the work is daunting, they do see significant progress since they began this public journey 15 years ago. “I think the shifts that have happened have been around talking about sex, kink, polyamory and sexual liberation, about what’s happening on campuses, rape culture and [the idea] that ‘consent is sexy.’ It’s being cracked wide open.”

HEAL is supported for two years by a new fellowship from the Just Beginnings Collaborative. Rivera is one of eight fellows, all people of color who have survived child sexual abuse. Despite this fellowship and their long history, Rivera insists they’re just an everyday person. “I’m no expert,” they say. “I’m just a survivor.”

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If you are a parent, guardian, child/youth advocate, sex educator and or a survivor of child sexual abuse, I’d like to hear from you. Send me an email at, subscribe to this blog (upper right-hand corner), repost this and other blogs, be a guest blogger, and like the Facebook page here.

The HEAL Project and The Monument Quilt: Together we stand!

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This past weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of spending several days with over 20 of the most wonderful activists working to address the issues of rape culture, abuse and all sexual violence. I was honored when Rebecca Nagle, Co-founder and director of FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, asked me to join The Monument Quilt Leadership Team– a project of FORCE. I reached out to her because I believed, and she agreed, that collaborating just made sense. Check out description of the work she and Co founder/director Hannah Brancato do.the_monument_quilt_-_themonumentquilt.org_

FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture is a creative activist collaboration to upset the culture of rape and promote a culture of consent. We believe that a more difficult and honest conversation needs to happen in America to face the realities of sexual violence, and we envision a world where sex is empowering and pleasurable rather than coercive and violent. To promote this needed conversation, we create art actions to generate media attention and get millions of people talking. According to the Huffington Post, “FORCE is doing a good job with a hard to digest topic, capturing the public imagination with their tactics.

The Monument Quilt is an on-going collection of stories from survivors of rape and abuse. Written, stitched, and painted onto red fabric, our stories are displayed in city and town centers to create and demand public space to heal. The quilt resists the popular and narrow narrative of how sexual violence occurs by telling many stories, not one. The quilt builds a new culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.
To date, over 1,000 collected quilt squares have been displayed in 22 different cities across the US (read more on CNN and MSNBC).  As the quilt continues to grow, survivors, loved ones and supporters are encouraged to make a square. In a culminating display in Washington DC, 6,000 fabric squares will blanket over one mile of the national mall to spell “Not Alone.”

The HEAL Project’s focus is on addressing and ending Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and within that, how sexual violence in childhood is connected to sexual violence as a whole. The work we do to end rape culture on college campuses, Domestic Violence (DV) in all family configurations, sexual harassment/abuse/violence of any kind in our society, are very much linked. The work I am doing is not just about abused children or adults who were abused as children. There is a bigger picture. Can you see it? Violations have the strong potential to journey through infancy, adolescent and adult life. It can manifest itself in how we create relationships, isolation, have more “tolerance” for unwanted sexual aggressiveness, decreased awareness of danger and emotional avoidance. These manifestations can greatly increase if you are LGBT, a person of color or a person with a disability.

According to The National Center for Victims of Crimes, A study conducted in 1986 found that 63% of women who had suffered sexual abuse by a family member also reported a rape or attempted rape after the age of 14. Recent studies in 2000, 2002, and 2005 have all concluded similar results (page 8).

Children who had an experience of rape or attempted rape in their adolescent years were 13.7 times more likely to experience rape or attempted rape in their first year of college (page 9).

d701098963f356274d3205ef7a07962cMy work and the work of countless other advocates for CSA prevention doesn’t begin and end with CSA– or it shouldn’t. The work that the anti-violence movement, anti-rape culture movement and others do, is not just about adults– or it shouldn’t be. Additionally, we must continue to work towards a movement that specifically addresses youth survivorship. Those voices need to be heard. Sexual violence affects us all and at any age. It’s time to think about an intergenerational movement to end CSA, Rape, abuse and all sexual violence. We must understand this trajectory of violence if we are to stop it in its tracks.

Research shows a significant correlation between CSA and adult sexual revictimization. The wider lifetime public health impact of CSA includes adult sexual assault, intimate partner violence, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems.

Sexual assault advocates, domestic violence advocates, medical professionals, mental health professionals, drug and alcohol counselors, and other service providers need to understand prior CSA as a context for later victimization, exploitation, and health problems.

Sexual Revictimization: Lalor, K., & McElvaney, R. (2010). Child sexual abuse, links to later sexual exploitation/high- risk sexual behavior, and prevention/treatment programs. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 11, 159-177. doi:10.1177/1524838010378299

For these and so many other reasons, we intentionally form this linkage in prevention, healing and overall analysis of sexual violence. The connections of our work from one end of the age spectrum to the other, will make our movement stronger.

Dayanara Marte– Outing CSA

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Dayanara Marte on Outing CSA

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, survivor

Brown woman, wearing long shoulder length colorful earnings, red, green and yellow stripped head wrap. Has stud jewelry on a nose and labret piercing. Medium shot, wearing a black shirt, sitting in from of a white backdrop (wall/window with shear white curtains), speaking into camera/to audience. 

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, survivor


My name is Dayanara Marte

and I am a healer and activist.

I’m 40 years old.

I am a Latina Taina from Puerto Plate, Santo Domingo and Washington Heights NYC.

I’m from the land of Quisqueya and live in-between the borders–the United States and the Dominican Republic.

I am mother, lover, daughter, friend, my sisters keeper, oppressed and oppressor, victim and perpetrator.

…And I am a survivor of child sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence and a product of prostitution. 

#Outing CSA #HEAL2End #Survivor

CSA In The News

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CSA In The News…

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: child sexual abuse, perpetrators of child sexual abuse/assault

Breaking stigmaBreaking the Stigma of Child Sexual Abuse

Recently, celebrity actor Dax Shepard, who previously appeared on NBC’s Parenthood and is also married to actress Kristen Bell, revealed in an interview that he had been molested as a child. Dax disclosed on The Jason Ellis Show that he was just 7 years old when he was abused by his 18 year old neighbour.

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Priest Sentenced to 29 years for Child Abuse


John Joseph Farrell’s 12 victims were boys and girls that he attacked in his Moree church, at public pools and sometimes in their own homes. Farrell faced sentencing on 79 charges, including 48 of indecent assault, 27 of sexual assault and four acts of indecency.

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Maine man arrested for alleged sexual abuse of two children at traveling petting zoo.

Maine manFlorence Police Detectives have arrested Daryl V. Raymond, Jr, 48, of Stockholm, Maine, following reports alleging that he abused two children at a traveling petting zoo in Florence.

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Lawsuit accuses Rabbi, former New Haven Police Commissioner, of child sexual assault

RabbiA rabbi and former New Haven Police commissioner is being sued in federal court, accused of sexually assaulting a teenager hundreds of times when the boy was a student at an Orthodox Jewish boarding school in New Haven more than a decade ago.

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Ex-Naperville priest gets prison for child sex crimes in Michigan

Priest MichiganA former Roman Catholic priest once assigned to St. Raphael Church in Naperville was sentenced Friday to between 20 and 40 years in prison for sexually abusing students in the 1980s while a high school teacher in Michigan.

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State Senator Scott Bennett introduces child sexual abuse bill


Bennett introduced a bill to the Illinois General Assembly that would remove the current statute of limitations relating to child sexual assault. This means that a victim of child sexual abuse could report a sexual assault at any time with that the persecutor would be prosecuted.

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Sex Abuse Victims, Lawmakers push for Right to Sue Molesters

New Yorkers who were molested as children joined lawmakers and advocates in a two-day rally for lifting the state’s statute of limitations on suing abusers, saying the law closing the window at age 23 guarantees many more young victims.

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Hari Ziyad– Outing CSA

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Hari Ziyad on Outing CSA

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse, survivor

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse, survivor

Black non-binary person wearing a black sleeveless shirt and glasses.  Has facial hair, wearing two earring studs, sitting in from of a white backdrop, speaking into camera/to audience. 

My name is Hari Ziyad

I’m a storyteller

I’m 24

I’m Black

I’m non-binary

My pronouns are they, them, their

I’m queer

I’m from NYC

I’m an artist

…and I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse

#OutingCSA #HEAL2End #Survivor