The conversation around ending sexual victimization has become polarized. With people on one side calling for war against a culture that allows gender based violence to occur and individuals on the other side suggesting that survivors and feminists have taken it too far, the discourse appears to be black and white. Ending sexual abuse requires a nuanced approach - one where we lean into uncomfortable conversations. I am committed to ending sexual abuse in all forms. In my years as a public rape survivor and a sex crimes policy expert, I have learned one very important lesson. There is a better way.
As a criminal justice professor at California State University, Fullerton, I am currently involved in several projects related to restorative justice practices that bridge the voices of individuals who have experienced sexual harm with individuals who have perpetrated it. I am a founding member of the Sex Offense Policy and Research Working Group.
I firmly believe that stopping sexual violence requires us to actively change the conversation. We must listen to people who have experienced sexual harm speak about the short and long term effects of trauma and we must make the topic of sexual violence and victimization less taboo. We must also give individuals who have committed sexual harm the opportunity to hear from and share with those who have experienced victimization. This can bring about true accountability. This is my calling as a "survivor scholar". I use my personal experience and professional expertise to provide safe spaces for both individuals who have experienced sexual violence and those who have committed it to share openly and vulnerably. I've met with almost 300 men who have committed acts of sexual abuse, harassment, or violence. Using a restorative justice framework I approach these conversations with vulnerability and authenticity, offering these men the opportunity to do the same. I also facilitate face-to-face mediation with individuals who have experienced sexual abuse and the individual who committed the abuse.
I have learned that in order to be effective as a researcher, scholar, advocate, and restorative justice practitioner, I must be intentional about stepping away from my work to unwind and recharge. One way I do this is through painting. You can view some of my artwork here. Contact me if you are interested in purchasing or commissioning a painting. A portion of proceeds from sales of my art will be donated to organizations that focus on sexual assault resources and prevention. Use the Facebook icon below to connect with me on social media!