Coming out (of the closet), having its historical roots in LGBT communities and movements, is the first step in a private, public, political, spiritual journey. The process of coming out or the privilege of outing oneself can be a liberating, scary, intense, wonderful, life altering, lifelong process that has aided in visibility, community and movement building of queer and other communities. Visibility alone will not liberate us. It alone will not address the issues of healing, prevention, or what justice looks like for survivors. Not everyone is able to come out but those who can, help broaden the scope of what the movement is or can be.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of participating at the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Conference. This year’s theme was From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom. I was there presenting my very first workshop about the focus of The HEAL Project— sex education. The workshop I nervously presented was uncomplicatedly named, “How Sex Ed Can End Child Sexual Abuse.” I wondered if participants would steer away from the topic of child sexual abuse (CSA). I’d assumed that participants would rather go to one of the many other workshops presented by a line-up of stellar presenters. I wondered if I would stumble upon my words, have another anxiety attack, and or fail at my attempt to tackle this work—this next step in my journey of healing.
Welcome to The HEAL Project
Today is the official launch of my website HEAL2End.com. That’s Heal– H, E, A, L, the number 2, End–E,N,D, dot com. HEAL is and acronym for Hidden Encounters, Altered Lives. We launch today, as we embark on Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
I’m Ignacio Rivera, I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse or CSA, and this is my project
I’m one of 8 people of color who are survivors of CSA, that were awarded a 2 year fellowship to create our own project on how to address and help end CSA.
The fellowship was awarded by Just Beginnings Collaborative. Click on this link to find out more about them.
You can also click on the link to find out about the other fellows and the amazing work they will be doing.
The HEAL Project is a long time coming. I started doing this work about 14 years ago after I performed my show Lagrimas de Cocodrilo/ Crocodile Tears, but had no funding and it was almost impossible to get people talking openly about CSA and its affects.
Jump to 2016, In the wake of community healing, organizing, education, storytelling and activism within the sexual liberation, women’s rights, LGBTQI, restorative justice, anti-poverty movements, engaging in the fight to expand abstinence only sex education, dialoging out and loud about rape culture, community responses to violence, intersectionality and so so much more, the conversations about sexual assault, rape, power, control, consent, and boundaries have been cracked wide open.
I hope you all can take this journey with me as I grow with this project to talk about the thing that has been so difficult to talk about when it comes to sexual abuse and specifically, the sexual abuse of children— sex.
As stated in my information page on Just Beginnings Collaborative website,
The Challenge: Our society’s view on sex is important to understanding, preventing and dealing with child sexual abuse. We live in a hyper-sexual society that exposes sexual imagery but does not talk about it. Sex education in public schools has almost been erased. In the midst of this silence, we are left to form our sexuality in secret. This culture of silence and shame around sex and sexuality creates a breeding ground for child sexual abuse.
The Solution: Broaden the conversation about sex and sexuality as a critical component to ending child sexual abuse. This project fosters open dialogue in the movement by promoting healthy understanding of sex and sexuality as a focal point of any work to end child sexual abuse. By making visible the hidden tools used to coerce and inflict guilt, shame and violence on children, we can eliminate the shame and secrecy that allows abuse to occur.
In this project I will be organizing social media campaigns, creating a theater projectlead by survivors, crafting a manual for parents/guardians/caregivers on how to teach comprehensive sex education to their children, posting blogs and more.
Please check out my website. Look up top at the menu bar.
In the ABOUT section, read more about the HEAL Project and me.
In MEDIA CAMPAIGN, see the current call-out for submissions “Outing CSA.”
In WORKSHOPS, you’ll find upcoming workshop presentations at conferences, colleges and Universities, and workshop descriptions
In SEXY SURVIVOR, (coming soon), you’ll be able to read survivors collective hopes, impacts and sexual health skill shares
In SUPPORT, you’ll find resources and a guide to coming out as a CSA survivor
…and check out CONTACT, to connect with me further.
Comprehensive sex education WILL help end child sexual abuse.