Photo: Annie Escobar

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that child sexual abuse affects about 1 in 4 female-bodied people and 1 in 6 male-bodied people. However, due to social stigma, few survivors are able to share their stories publicly. A new oral history project seeks to change that.

“I have been very vocal about being a survivor since I was seventeen,” Amita Swadhin, a 33-year-old queer anti-violence activist and incest survivor, told Bi Social Network’s Bi Talk Radio. “That created room for people to constantly tell me their story but it would be in the staff room when no one else was around except me or at the water cooler in a very hushed voice…I found that very limiting.”

Swadhin began to think of ways to use her story as well as gather the stories of other survivors who had healed enough to share what they had experienced publicly. She went on to conceive Secret Survivorsan interview-based theater production, for Ping Chong & Company.

Secret Survivors uses personal narrative to represent the ways child sexual abuse occurs and grapple with the many reasons that most survivors remain silent. The diverse cast features women and men across racial, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression spectrums. This project, which is part of an ongoing series by Ping Chong & Company known as the Undesirable Elements series, has been seen by nearly 1,000 people at theaters, museums, and conferences. To expand the impact of the production, they are creating a documentary and toolkit to accompany the live presentation.

“It’s really created so much room in our [communities] for more survivors to speak publicly and not keep this a private conversation,” Swadhin (also the project coordinator) continued on Bi Talk Radio. “That really gives me hope that we could potentially create a social movement led by survivors to really pull down the curtain of silence around this epidemic.”

Secret Survivors recently launched an online campaign to raise additional funding. They have about a month left to meet their goal, and all donations are tax-deductible. Please support this important cause: www.indiegogo.com/SecretSurvivors

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