By JT

Content warning: mention of child sexual abuse and invasive medical procedures

 

Photo of a black night sky with part of a pinkish colored moon peaking out.
[Photo of a black night sky with part of a pinkish colored moon peaking out.]
I’ve been doing work with the BATJC since 2016 and I often share how being a part of this group has completely changed my life. We begin all of our meetings with a grounding and Mia often times asks us to think about who we do this work for, and for me it is often times a younger version of myself. I do this work for the children in my life. I do this work for our liberation and divestment from prisons, but I also do this work to heal my inner child.

 

This has led me to be in deep reflection about what self care looks like for me. Engaging in the work of building transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse is deeply personal for me. This work has meant putting a mirror to my life and thinking through how my survivorship has affected so many aspects of my life and the way I relate to the world. I’ve been gently pushed to think through my trauma responses, my relationship to myself, and how I’ve chosen to build relationships with my community. I’ve realized that the way I build relationships with the people in my life is deeply connected to my trauma responses. I am conflict avoidant, insecure, lack healthy boundaries, and tend to appease, and these are all behaviors that are at the core of how I relate to myself and my community. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve [thankfully] become more conscious of how these have resulted in me building toxic relationships with friends and romantic partners. This naturally means that I also have not been good to myself, I’ve exhausted myself with guilt and have a lot of work to do to forgive myself for the many years of unhealthy patterns. I also know that I’ve harmed people I love along the way, and need to be accountable for that. I am now at a point where I understand the parts of myself that need some deep healing. I want to be a better person for this work and for the people that I love, and that is honestly a huge motivator for me to address and work on my shadow side.

 

Mia often reminds me that taking care of myself is a huge part of accountability: If I am doing the work of building community responses to harm that are centered around true accountability, then I need to be practicing these same skills in my personal life. I’ve learned that many of the responses that people have when they are being held accountable for harmful behavior, are similar to the responses that we have when we are attempting to be accountable to ourselves. There is shame, denial, not making it a priority, making excuses for not following through, etc.

 

Doing transformative justice work and being a part of a collective that is genuinely grounded in their values, has pushed me to want to be my best self and this means prioritizing my healing. I am very far from loving myself and/or stepping into my power, but I do feel like reflections on my childhood and my survivorship have pushed me to have a clearer understanding of my full self and my needs. I’ve tried to not make my survivorship my entire identity, which has sometimes meant refusing to speak about it. Being a part of the BATJC means being in constant conversation about child sexual abuse and sexual violence as a whole. This has encouraged me to become more comfortable with telling my story and connecting with other survivors. I have also learned about common behaviors of folks that grew up in abusive households, and see myself reflected in those at times. All of this has created a supportive foundation for me to begin to see myself more clearly, not just as someone who lived through years of abuse, but also as someone who was shaped by moments of joy and survival.

 

In thinking about taking care of my whole self, I’ve also been reflecting a lot on the long term impacts of abuse on the body. As a survivor of child sexual abuse and someone who struggles with chronic pain and reproductive health problems, I can’t help but wonder about the connections that exist there. I’ve read that trauma and histories of abuse, can impact brain development and have effects on our immune and nervous system. I recently learned about a condition called fibromyalgia, where folks can experience musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and cognitive difficulties. One of the thought causes of this condition is physical or emotional trauma. When I read about fibromyalgia, it affirmed for me that we can carry memories of abuse and trauma in different parts of the body and that this can lead to negative health outcomes.

 

Our bodies are wise, they remember things that our conscious selves might not. I think that trauma impacts the way we relate to our bodies, sometimes to survive we have to dissociate from our physical selves. For me, being fully aware of myself means remembering, it means facing the ugly thoughts, the shame, the disgust, and deep emotional wounds that have resulted from the abuse. Even if I wanted to forget, I’m not sure that the way my mind and body relate to one another would allow me. I am reminded of this when being physically intimate with people. There have been plenty of times when I’ve had physical reactions that I had no control over and where I couldn’t even find the words to explain what was happening. I understood that I was triggered but didn’t know exactly what was causing this bodily response. I couldn’t understand how even in being intimate with someone I trusted, my body was still paralyzed by fear and discomfort. Over a year ago I had to visit my gynecologist to get some extensive testing done (due to the reproductive health problems I mentioned above). I received a pap smear, biopsy, and transvaginal ultrasound all within days of one another. I was not prepared for how extremely triggering and painful this experience would be. I didn’t even know how to talk about it, all I knew was that the way my body felt was similar to how it felt when I was living in the abuse. The effects of this experience were felt for months and I am still figuring out how to care for myself after having these responses. The memories of the abuse exist in all these different crevices of my body, healing means being aware of all the ways I’ve been impacted by it. Healing will not only happen through talking through my lived experience, but it will also require me to care for my physical health. It will mean being consistent with myself and being honest with others about my physical boundaries.

 

In my experience, surviving has meant some some serious dissociation from my body, resulting in years of ignoring/being unaware of the pain that lived in my body. What does it do to our physical bodies to experience sexual abuse as children? Where does the tension and trauma live? Is it possible to heal these parts of ourselves, especially when we still have to interact with our abusers? What are the physical trauma responses that we are having without even being fully conscious of them? Even if I do the work of addressing my mental and emotional wounds associated with my childhood trauma, can I ever heal the physical impacts the abuse has had on my body?

BATJC member Mia Mingus was interviewed by radio program In Plain Sight about love, transformative justice, and the work of the BATJC responding to child sexual abuse. In Plain Sight is a podcast that features stories of everyday activism from Asian and Asian American women.

Download or stream the podcast on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/in-plain-sight-1/episode-2-the-work-of-love

Transcript of interview after the jump…

(more…)

This is a great article written by Kai Cheng Thom that we found at Everyday Feminism.  The BATJC thought we would share this because there are so few useful resources for this aspect of interventions; working with the person who has done abuse.  Read on:

(Content warning: Intimate partner violence, physical assault)

I, too, have heard endless rumors that he’s been a bad date, and have heard stories of shadiness and strange behavior. […] I have heard about his ridiculous pick-up lines and have (to my shame) tittered about them with my friends […]  Jian Ghomeshi is my friend, and Jian Ghomeshi beats women. How our friendship will continue remains to be seen.” —Musician Owen Pallett on Canadian broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi’s alleged assault of several women

In my second year of university, I learned what I had suspected for a while but refused to investigate: One of my close friends had been regularly beating up his boyfriend.

He knew that this was wrong, but he didn’t know how to stop – his boyfriend “was making him do it,” he said, by constantly flirting with other people and “acting slutty” in public. My friend’s defensive attitude overlay a deep insecurity: Thanks to long conversations and many nights spent texting, I knew that he often worried about being sexy or lovable enough for his partner.

And as much as I knew that I had to confront him, I also didn’t want to see him get in trouble or hurt. Not to mention the fact that I was completely in over my head and had absolutely zero idea what to do.

In marginalized communities, there are vast risks associated with “calling out” or naming abuse between ourselves. The reality is that there are already far too many racialized and queer and trans people imprisoned for life or killed by cops for (often unproven) allegations of crimes far smaller than abuse and assault. And men of color, in particular, are already stigmatized and stereotyped as being “savage,” brutal, and violent. 

The external violence of an oppressive society makes any attempt to stand up to abuse inside our communities feel not only difficult and dangerous, but also treacherous – as though we are betraying our own. How many times have I heard that calling the police on their boyfriends is something that only rich, white cis women do?

Clearly, we have to find ways to tackle abuse on our own terms –in ways that combine both love and justice. 

The following eleven steps form a strategy (which I encourage folks to adapt to their specific needs) for confronting a close friend who is abusing their romantic or sexual partner.I use it in both my personal life, and as a social worker with my clients. It’s divided into two halves: first, reacting to finding out that your friend is abusive; and second, what to do about it.

Continue reading at Everyday Feminism…

Join the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC)* for a
Community Report-Out on Sunday, August 23 from 12pm-2pm

Come hear what we’ve been up to and connect with folks

  • Learn about the BATJC
  • Projects we’ve been working on
  • What’s ahead for 2016

We actively support the participation of people with children in this work. Because content may not be appropriate for children, we will happily provide free childcare upon request on site, in a separate room. Please give us at least a week’s notice if you need childcare.

We will have food for lunch; please email us if you’d like to contribute in any way.

This is a free public event, but please RSVP to batjcinfo@gmail.com so we can plan accordingly.

Where: Qulture Collective
1714 Franklin Street
Oakland, CA 94607
http://www.qulturecollective.com

This space is wheelchair accessible (including bathrooms) and is located two blocks from 19th St. BART in downtown Oakland, free street parking available.

For all questions, please email batjcinfo@gmail.com.

*The Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective works to build and support transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse in the Bay Area. To learn more about the BATJC, visit our website: batjc.wordpress.com.

Hey everybody, we apologize for not being on top of the blog game, but just in case you want to know some of what we’ve been up to, the BATJC presented last month at the conference organized by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, called Color of Violence 4 (COV4) Beyond the State: Inciting Transformative Possibilities.  Here’s the workshop we presented:

Building for the Long Haul: Strategy, Structure and Work

Transformative justice and community accountability (TJ/CA) offer compelling visions and possibilities for liberatory responses to violence in our communities and help us to better envision the world we want to build, but how do we build it? What does TJ/CA organizing actually look like not in theory, but in practice; and not just when we are directly responding to violence, but before then? How do we actively do the slow, long-term, day-in and day-out work to prepare? What could a TJ/CA long-term organizing strategy look like, outside of campaigns and non-profits? And how do we build the kind of liberatory (infra)structures, processes and tools we will need to be sustainable? How could we build work that actively reflects and cultivates our values?

The Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective is a local community collective working to build and support TJ/CA responses to child sexual abuse in the Bay Area. For the past four years we have been developing strategies, tools, values, structures and work that can build a strong foundation for generations to come. We continue to engage in the daily work of building the kinds of relationships and structures that could actually support community responses to violence. This workshop will give participants a chance to hear about a local TJ/CA collective and how it has developed its work, strategy, values, tools and structures. By sharing our work and tools, we hope to spark ideas in participants for their own communities and how they can build foundations for their passionate TJ/CA work. There is no one-way to do TJ/CA work and we offer our work with humility and a commitment to interdependence.  Participants will develop a deeper thinking about how to support the work of community-based responses to violence. Specifically, the kinds of tools, strategies, (infra)structure and values that can help us prepare for and prevent violence. We meet so many people who are analysis-wise “on-board” with TJ/CA, but then who don’t know exactly how to start or how to conceive of the work outside of direct interventions to violence. We hope to offer some concrete examples of what that work has looked like for us and why.

**This workshop is ideally for folks who have a basic-good grasp of knowledge about community-responses to violence, even if they haven’t had any experience in it.  Of course, we would welcome everyone who wants to attend. 

Want to know more about the BATJC and meet other great folks committed to transformative justice?
Join the BATJC on August 9th from 12pm-2pm in Oakland for our next BUILD!*  
 
Connect with good folks over good food and get inspired by local transformative justice work. This is a great chance to learn more about the BATJC’s work to build and support transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse in the Bay Area and find out how you can get involved. Come hangout with us, meet new folks or simply get to know them better, and hear about what we’ve been up to.
We will also be passing the hat to help cover venue costs for our 6 month TJ Study. Any funds (big or small) that you have to give will greatly help us out. And if you’d like to give online, you can donate here, as well as view our wish list for in-kind donations that are always helpful.
*Please RSVP here for the location address and so we know how many people to feed.  BATJC members will be providing food for lunch and of course, you’d like to hep out with food, just let us know.
Contact us with any questions.  Feel free to bring friends and family with you.
PS: If you would like to receive emails about upcoming BATJC events, you can sign-up by emailing us here.