Mirror Memoirs is an oral history project centering the narratives, healing and leadership of LGBTQ survivors of color in the movement to end child sexual abuse. The US Centers for Disease Control estimates 20% of all adults (1 in 4 female-assigned-at-birth and 1 in 6 male-assigned-at-birth people) have survived rape or sexual abuse by an older child or an adult by the age of 18. New studies suggest that gender non-conforming children may be at even greater risk. This project uses storytelling and survivor leadership to illuminate the needs and wisdom of survivors at a vulnerable intersection that has not been widely discussed. Founded by survivor-activist Amita Swadhin, Mirror Memoirs has been made possible by a fellowship from the Just Beginnings Collaborative. From 2016-2017, Amita will:
- collect at least 50 audio recordings from fellow LGBTQ child sexual abuse survivors of color; create an online audio archive;
- release a report educating philanthropists, direct service providers and policymakers on the needs of survivors at the intersections of oppression; and
- host a convening for LGBTQ survivors of color to grieve, heal and strategize in community (with a separate track for allies)
Priority will be given to LGBTQ survivors of color who have had one or more of the following experiences:
- Identifying as transgender in adulthood
- State intervention (e.g. mandated reporting, forced prosecution – especially under the age of 18)
- Being placed in the foster care system
- Being institutionalized in a mental health facility (especially under the age of 18)
- Being incarcerated (especially under the age of 18)
- Being homeless/houseless (especially under the age of 18)
- Engaging in survival sex work (especially under the age of 18)
Interviews will be conducted with an audio recorder (participants have the option of remaining anonymous if they so wish) and require two hours of time. Questions focus on the effect of trauma, survivors’ resilience and survivors’ vision to end this violence (rather than on detailed accounts of violence).
“Like” us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/mirrormemoirs
2016 interview slots are available in:
- San Francisco/Oakland: October 25-29
- Las Vegas: November 14 & 17
- Palm Springs/Joshua Tree: November 22 & 23
- Los Angeles/San Diego: December 4-22
2017 interview locations are being selected nationwide, inquire for more information. Please spread the word!
DECIDING WHETHER TO PUBLICLY COME OUT AS A CSA SURVIVOR
Please read this document carefully before deciding to participate in Mirror Memoirs. Before deciding to come out publicly as a child sexual abuse (CSA) survivor, consider that you are not obligated to share your story AND you can choose to remain anonymous during this project since it only utilizes audio (not video) recordings. However, you may decide to come out publicly for a number of reasons that may include:
- You can no longer be silent.
- Sharing your story may advance something for you or something you care about.
- You feel that your lived experience is important for the field or the movement.
- Think about personal and professional consequences of publicly coming out as a survivor.
○ How would family members, friends, colleagues, etc. react?
- Publicly identifying yourself as a survivor may invite a lot of unwanted attention.
○ How do you think you will emotionally respond to being center of attention as a CSA survivor?
- People may say things or ask questions that are hurtful, inappropriate, or triggering.
○ What are the worst things you could hear or be asked? Is there something you can do now to
prepare yourself for these responses?
- Talking openly about your trauma may trigger a flood of memories and feelings for you.
Preparation and Self-Care
- Who is at least one trusted person with whom you could discuss the potential and actual
consequences of coming out? This is, ideally, someone who already knows you are a CSA
survivor. Could you set time in advance to debrief with them after the interview?
- What do you need to take care of yourself on the day you do the interview? How about when
audio recording is published?
○ For example, a celebration, a gathering of supportive friends, calling a trusted friend.
○ How can you be extra kind to yourself during these times?
○ Consider at least three self-care acts to practice as needed.
- Who are the people who you don’t want to hear your story?
○ Take steps to prevent them from hearing your story. For example, adjust your social media
settings, change privacy settings on FB, etc.
- Who are the people who you want them to hear your story from you?
○ You may want to share your story with them before they hear it from another source
- What are the three worst things people may say or ask you?
○ Practice your responses with a trusted friend. Silence is a good option.
○ If you don’t want to answer a question, say that you do not share those details.
Created by Ignacio Rivera and Sujatha Baliga, with edits by Amita Swadhin (all Fellows supported by the Just Beginnings Collaborative).