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In Defense of Survivors

Over the next few months, as we embark on the trial of R. Kelly, we know that high-profile moments like this one can and will bring with it the barriers and backlash that Black Survivors have faced time and time again.

We know the stories and the experiences of Black survivors may be dismissed. We know people will try to discredit and scrutinize them. We know people will evaluate these stories with a set of questions that shift responsibility from the accused to the survivor. And we know that when the alleged abusers are not only famous, but held up as pillars of the Black community, the tendency will be to sweep these allegations under the rug. 

We can anticipate that the media will follow the tendency to center their reporting on the celebrity or high profile abuser rather than on the survivors and their stories; or they will not focus on Black survivors at all and we will be faced with silence and dismissal.

Our community:

We challenge you to show your support for the survivors in your life by redirecting harmful narratives that shame or blame survivors for coming forward. We must hold each other accountable by calling out the behaviors that keep all of us from feeling safe and healing. 

This set of cultural demands outlines tangible ways to do that today and always.


The media:

Make Black survivors’ experiences visible and reframe the narrative to center justice for survivors. Treat Black survivor stories with journalistic integrity. Conduct thorough investigations and examinations of claims made by the survivors. 

  • Here is an offering of healing resources from me too. International that centers Black survivors and can be used as guides to help with processing trauma. These tools can also serve as a model for the media and the larger Black community on how to disrupt the conditions that allow for sexual violence to occur.

  • Survivor Healing Series

    The series of virtual sessions led by healing practitioners will focus on introducing tools and practices that can help you navigate crisis and trauma as you begin to rebuild a sense of safety, joy, and overall healing. Together, we will be learning how our stories can be a tool of empowerment, how we navigate shame and guilt, and how we move in our healing journey towards joy and pleasure.

  • In order to be inside of our healing journey, we must first confront our relationship with trauma. Storytelling allows us to speak truth to power and can be a tool to reassert our agency. 

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  • Explore through the lens of survivorship and discuss how sexual violence disrupts key concepts of choice, voice, and boundaries while considering how we can restore and return to our inherent power. We hope this discussion will lead participants to consider: What is one boundary you might want to practice honoring?

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  • Self-care is described as the conscious act one takes in order to promote their own physical, mental, and emotional health. While we talk about it often to cope with our everyday lives, sometimes it can feel like a luxury. But for survivors, self-care, in all its definitions, has to be prioritized to address the short and long-term effects of our trauma. And in order to get there—and acknowledge that we are worthy of this type of “emotional indulgence”—we have to be open to adopting a radical sense of self-love.

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