A group of diasporic Black child sexual abuse survivors and advocates use transformative storytelling to explore how we can end child sexual abuse without relying upon racist institutions that brutalize Black people.
Despite the current survivor-affirming awareness around sexual violence, child sexual abuse, most notably when it’s a family member or friend, is still a very taboo topic. There are approximately 42 million child sexual abuse survivors in the U.S. and millions of bystanders who look the other way as the abuse occurs and cover for the harm-doers with no accountability. Documentary filmmaker and survivor of child sexual abuse and adult rape, Aishah Shahidah Simmons invites diasporic Black people to join her in transformative storytelling that envisions a world that ends child sexual abuse without relying on the criminal justice system. Love WITH Accountability features compelling writings by child sexual abuse survivors, advocates, and Simmons’s mother, who underscores the detrimental impact of parents/caregivers not believing their children when they disclose their sexual abuse. This collection explores disrupting the inhumane epidemic of child sexual abuse, humanely.
2020 Lambda Literary Award winner for Best LGBTQ Anthology!
What People Are Saying
"With this brave and healing anthology of truth-telling about sexual abuse within Black families, Aishah Shahidah Simmons sets an example for all families. If we could all raise just one generation of children without violence or the threat of violence, who knows what might be possible?" —Gloria Steinem
"[Love WITH Accountability] suggests that we need to think about accountability as a radical form of love, one that gets at the root of our social ills and pushes us to think beyond our current reality—to imagine other ways of relating to each other, to recognize the role we all play in upholding a violent culture and work toward transformative justice. Love WITH Accountability envisions and offers us steps toward creating that more equitable and collectively oriented world." —Jamia Wilson, Women's Review of Books
"Aishah Shahidah Simmons's Love WITH Accountability: Digging Up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse is a book that is wonderfully and sadly timeless. Simmons and the courageously skilled authors she's assembled write their bodies, memories and imaginations into calcified cracks and bleeding silences. Each piece opens up the absolute terror and consequence of sexual abuse of children, but somehow the entire book is as interested in looking back as it is at looking forward. Love With Accountability reminds me that willful people make liberation happen and willful people and willful art can obliterate terror." —Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir
"Love with Accountability is an honoring of our ancestors who dared to struggle, a gift to our movements fighting to create thriving communities and a guide for future generations to continue this work. Through Simmons self-work and community of activists, leaders and scholars, they have produced a collection of writings to expose painful truths, while also providing a roadmap for accountability that is based on love, not more false solutions. This book is for anyone who is willing to do the difficult, yet necessary work to end the global epidemic of child sexual abuse." —Charlene A. Carruthers, author of Unapologetic: A Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements
“Aishah Shahidah Simmons is always on time. Her film NO! helped me understand myself as a survivor. Now she offers us Love WITH Accountability, a book that guides readers through a new terrain of healing from childhood sexual abuse.... We are not alone, and we don't have to abandon love in order to live in justice. We have each other, and we are claiming our lives and our families, our transformation, and our healing, together. Thank you for this sharp, tender, reshaping of a text.” —adrienne maree brown, author of Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good
"To say that this anthology is long overdue doesn’t even begin to cover it. For decades, and lifetimes, LGBTQIAA survivors of color have been the backbone of the anti-violence movement and frequently their voices have been pushed into the cracks of the mainstream. A fierce offering of complex, powerful, necessary narratives and critique, Love With Accountability: Digging Up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse dreams a new future into being: one where survivors are centered, and where we can dare to believe that accountability and true justice is possible. This is a gift of a book and the ripples of it’s impact will be with us for decades to come." —Jennifer Patterson, Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Violence Movement
"Not only have the contributors to this anthology found the bravery to share their survival stories, they have also developed practical and urgent solutions to one of the of most pervasive forms of violence impacting our communities at this time in history. . . . This is a book that should be taught in all classes that address gender, violence, family structure, parenting, race, sexuality, disability and equality and read in organizations that address any of those issues as well. Thank you Aishah Simmons for once again revealing an urgent paradigm of healing, a new and necessary definition of love." —Alexis Pauline Gumbs PhD, author of M Archive: After the End of the World
"As a society, we’ve gravitated toward solutions to end sexual violence and child sexual abuse that are more about shortcut and hiding and less about compassion and truth. Through their own suffering, healing, thriving, and deep wisdom, Aishah Shahidah Simmons and her contributors to the Love With Accountability: Digging Up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse anthology offer us a path forward that is real, compassionate, and true. This work fills me with hope!" —Terri Poore, Policy Director, Raliance (National Alliance to End Sexual Violence)
"With Love With Accountability, Aishah has done it yet again. And she brings an even greater team of radical powerhouses with her this time around. Let us rejoice in this gift of, as Darnell L. Moore notes in the Foreword, 'documented practices that might move survivors in the direction of healing' and 'critical and radical tools that … transform harm doers.' Let us rejoice. Love WITH Accountability is here." —Heidi R. Lewis, Ph.D., Director and Associate Professor of Feminist & Gender Studies at Colorado College
About the Editor
Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning Black feminist lesbian documentary filmmaker, activist, cultural worker, and international lecturer. A child sexual abuse and adult rape survivor, she is the producer/director of the film, NO! The Rape Documentary, and the creator of the #LoveWITHAccountability Project. Simmons is a Just Beginnings Collaborative Fellow, and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania where she is also affiliated with the Ortner Center on Violence and Abuse in Relationships.