Love WITH Accountability: Digging up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse

Love WITH Accountability: Digging up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse


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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. Love WITH Accountability 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781849353526
Publisher: AK Press
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Pages: 360
Sales rank: 370,500
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning Black feminist lesbian documentary filmmaker, activist, cultural worker, and international lecturer. A child sexual abuse and adult rape survivor, she is the producer/director of the film, NO! The Rape Documentary, and the creator of the #LoveWITHAccountability Project. Simmons is a Just Beginnings Collaborative Fellow, and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania where she is also affiliated with the Ortner Center on Violence and Abuse in Relationships.

Darnell L. Moore is the head of Strategy and Programs at BreakthroughUS. His writings have been published in Ebony, Advocate, Vice, The Guardian, and MSNBC. Along with Tamura A. Lomax and Monica J. Casper, he serves as a series editor of The Feminist Wire Books. He is the author of No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black & Free in America (Nation Books), a 2018 New York Times notable book of the year.

Read an Excerpt

I believe the silence around child sexual abuse in the family plays a direct role in creating a culture of sexual violence in all other institutions—religious, academic, activist, political, and professional. We cannot and must not address rape, including campus rape, without also addressing child sexual abuse. For too many victim-survivors of adult rape, child sexual abuse is a precursor. Ending sexual violence starts with ending child sexual abuse, and ending child sexual abuse starts in the family, in religious institutions, schools, and other spaces in communities. For me, and for many survivors of child sexual abuse, the family is simultaneously a source of deep pain and love. I am committed to creating models of holding family members accountable without suppressing that love. And I am not alone.

Thirty-seven years after Pop-pop first molested me, I invited an intergenerational group of twenty-nine diasporic Black cisgender women and men, transgender men, and gender non-binary people to join me in an online #LoveWITHAccountability forum that I curated and edited. The forum was published for ten days, October 17–28, 2018, in the online publication The Feminist Wire. Each of the contributors to the online forum explored what love with accountability could look and feel like in the context of child sexual abuse.

This is sacred space

Violence does not happen in a vacuum. 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 happens and cover for the harm doers.

In her landmark text, The Cancer Journals, the late award-winning Black, feminist, lesbian, mother, warrior poet Audre Lorde wrote, “Without community there is no liberation only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression.”

I am interested in and committed to co-creating communal responses to intra-racial, gender-based violence outside of the criminal injustice system. I believe people who commit harm in our communities must be held accountable

Black feminist scholar and cultural critic Dr. bell hooks wrote, “For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”

I do not believe incarceration is the answer, in fact, I am opposed to imprisonment as it operates in the United States. Prisons are not focused on rehabilitation, but instead are a kind of modern-day enslavement as the incarcerated who are disproportionately Black, Indigenous, and Latinx, are raped and degraded. Too often family and community bystanders ignore child sexual abuse; the prison system does worse, facilitating its continuation. Equally as important, so many U.S. laws that are in place to protect victim/survivors of child sexual abuse and other forms of sexual and domestic violence end up severely punishing survivors and harming more than helping. The national coalition, Survived and Punished, has not only documented this frightening reality, but its members, “organize to de-criminalize efforts to survive domestic and sexual violence, support and free criminalized survivors, and abolish gender violence, policing, prisons, and deportations.”

Table of Contents


Content Notice

Aishah Shahidah Simmons


Darnell L. Moore

“Digging Up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse: An Introduction”

Aishah Shahidah Simmons

1. “Paying it Forward Instead of Looking Backwards” by Loretta Ross

2. “Love With Accountability: A Mother’s Lament” by Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons

3. “Soul Survivor: Reimagining Legacy” by Chevara Orrin

4. “Fast” by Kai Green

5. “On Moving Forward” by Ferentz Lafargue


6. “Social Silence and Sexual Violence” by Cyree Jarelle Johnson

7. “Embracing Our Humanity in the Accountability Process” by Tracy Ivy

8. “Peacock Feathers and Things” by Najma Johnson

9. “activist, poet, prison abolitionist, human rights advocate, incest and rape survivor” by Thea Matthews


10. “Becoming Each Other’s Harvest” by Lynn Roberts

11. “Pops’nAde: A Courageous Daughter & Her Non-Abusive Father on Loving Lessons, Living Legacies (L)earned after Sexual Abuse” by Adenike A. Harris and Peter J. Harris

12. “Love Centered Accountability” by Danielle Moss

13. “Self-Love and Accountability” by Cecelia Falls

14. “In My Mother’s Name: Restorative Justice for Survivors of Incest” by Liz Alexander


15. “The Coiled Spring First Grader Deep Inside: Sexual Violence and Restorative Justice” by Sikivu Hutchinson

16. “Our Silence Will Not Save Us” by Thema Bryant-Davis

17. “Safe Space the Language of Love” by Kimberly Gaubault

18. “Unfinished” by Worokya Duncan

19. “The Least of These: Black Children, Sexual Abuse, and Theological Malpractice” by Ahmad Greene-Hayes


20. “Who is Accountable to the Black Latinx Child?” by Luz Marquez Benbow

21. “Reclaiming Our Voice” by Tanisha Esperanza Jarvis

22. “Network of Care” by Alicia Sanchez Gill

23. “The Fear of Believing Survivors” by Rosa Cabrera

24. “Colliding Traumas” by Esther Armah


25. “Kissing, Forgiveness, and Accountability” by Farah Tanis

26. “This is My Return: ‘The Soul is Covered in a Thousand Veils”’ by Sevonna Brown

27. “Violation and Making The Road By Walking It” by Zoe Flowers

28. “Silent No More: The Unheard Echoes of Childhood Sexual Abuse in the African American Community” by Indira Henard

29. “We need Speak7 because Black Children Matter and Child Sexual Abuse Thrives in Silence!” by MiKeiya Morrow

30. “The Vanguard of Love, Accountability, the Young Advocates Institute, and You & I” by Tracy D. Wright and Monika Johnson-Hostler


31. “Sunset Seeking Accountability After All of These Years” by Tonya Lovelace

32. “#OnTurning50” by Kalimah Johnson

33. “Poetic Justice” by Nicole Denson

34. “The Truth As I Know It” by Jey’nce Mizarahi Poindexter

35. “Sometimes, The Wolves Wear Lipstick And We Call Them Auntie” by Kenyette Tisha Barnes


36. “The Compassion Imperative” by Mel Anthony Philips

37. “Thoughts on Discipline, Justice, Love and Accountability: Redefining Words to Reimagine Our Realities” by Qui Dorian Alexander

38. “Casting Aspersions” by Tashmica Torok

39. “Accountability to Ourselves and Our Children” by Ignacio G. Hutiá Xeiti Rivera

40. “Confronting Harm Past and Present for Tomorrow,” by Edxie Betts

The Acknowledgements

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