Posted on January 8, 2016
Any national movement we build around child sexual abuse cannot only protest in the streets and halls of government or articulate a passionate political analysis. It must also be able to respond to the real and messy realities of child sexual abuse when it happens in our families and communities; we must respond in ways that do not perpetuate the conditions that create those realities. We cannot only resist the world we do not want; we must also build the world we long for.
The Challenge: One of the greatest obstacles to successfully ending child sexual abuse is our collective inability to imagine a world without abuse. This is true whether it comes to believing that healing and accountability are possible—a common consequence of trauma, oppression and violence—or that child sexual abuse can even be stopped, let alone ended. The movement does not lack for brilliant analysis or compelling work. We lack the tools and resources for people to take action when actual incidents of child sexual abuse occur. People are scared, unsupported and often do not know what to do, and this absence of response mechanisms ultimately undermines our collective work.
The Solution: Cultivate a culture of hope and possibility in the movement to end child sexual abuse. The Living Bridges Project brings a force of creativity, inspiration and determination to combat the fear and isolation that surround people who are faced with responding to incidents of child sexual abuse. People need to see that the solutions are out there in order to have hope and stay invested in the work.
The Strategy: The Living Bridges Project will collect, document and publicize the stories of people—from all walks of life—who have responded to child sexual abuse in their families or communities. By documenting stories of how people have attempted to respond to child sexual abuse in ways that are generative instead of destructive, this project hopes to demonstrate that every single day, in all kinds of ways, everyday people are working to respond to child sexual abuse. By providing examples of strategies, tactics and tools that are approachable and accessible—including both what has worked and what has not—the project offers a resource of inspiration, creativity, hope and possibility that can help to buoy work that is all too often saturated in grief, rage, trauma and fear. It is by inspiring this hope that we will bring more people into the movement.
The Living Bridges Project also hopes to reveal the many conditions that allow for child sexual abuse to happen and continue, as well as the conditions that support generative and transformative responses, even if they were not successful. Some of the stories collected may also reflect the damage done by both state interventions (i.e. breaking family connections, re-traumatization, invasion and incarceration), and community interventions (i.e. vigilantism, exile, denial, intimidation, shame and blame). By so doing, we are building space for different and more complex narratives that can counter prevailing strategies that have not brought us concretely closer to ending child sexual abuse.
Mia Mingus is a writer, public speaker, community educator and organizer working for disability justice and transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse. She is a queer physically disabled Korean woman transracial and transnational adoptee. She works for community, interdependency and home for all of us, not just some of us, and longs for a world where disabled children can live free of violence, with dignity and love. As her work for liberation evolves and deepens, her roots remain firmly planted in ending sexual violence. Mia is a core-member of the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC), a local collective working to build and support transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse that do not rely on the state (i.e. police, prisons, the criminal legal system). She believes in prison abolition and urges all activists to critically and creatively think beyond the non-profit industrial complex. Her writings can be found on her blog, Leaving Evidence.