by Brad Sargent, aka brad/futuristguy,
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“I am fiercely committed to addressing the taboo and stigma attached to childhood sexual abuse (CSA) in the Black community.”
~ Lyvonne Proverbs Picou
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Occasionally, I find out about surveys or other research related to specific groups in survivor communities. When I do, I encourage people to participate if they’re part of the group under consideration. Even if they’re not, such research findings always contribute to our greater understanding of dynamics involved in various aspects of abuse, violence, sexual misconduct, etc. So, I want to make people aware of Lyvonne’s important research work.
Mutual friends in the social entrepreneurship world of Do Good X recently connected me with Lyvonne “Proverbs” Picou, whose research focuses on African-American women survivors of male sexual violence. Her 13-question confidential survey is posted here:
We got together this past week for coffee and conversation. She shared about her work in African-American churches to bring awareness about male sexual violence against women, about becoming “surthrivors” (a term she coined in 2009), and about how the church needs to shift its culture and language. Lyvonne has a lot of insight into personal recovery and how the arts can play into that, plus ideas and practices local churches can implement to make a positive difference.
Plus I asked Lyvonne to share some of her spoken word work (“Proverbs” is her handle for poetry slams and preaching). She performed a stunning piece about Rahab that I could only describe as “elegant”!
Lyvonne had asked me to share some about my work on systems and systemic abuse in Christian organizations. So, I talked about vastly different types of control systems I’d experienced in various churches, how these can interlock with other organizations to create a Christian industrial complex, and different roles people end up playing, from perpetrators to pawns, in getting an abusive system up and running, or keeping it going.
Then she asked about case studies I knew of on spiritual abuse or sexual misconduct in predominantly African-American churches and ministries. I could only come up with two situations at the time, and in the days since have come up with a few more that I’ve seen addressed on survivor-type blogs. I know there are more – I’ve seen blurbs in news reports or social media. Which leads me to a lot of questions:
- Why don’t these seem to receive much coverage on survivor blogs?
- Are we overlooking them?
- Do we not attract a racially diverse readership, and if so, why?
- Do we tend to focus on certain theologies, and so are missing some that may be more prominent in African-American churches?
Much to learn … So, I’m looking forward to hearing more from Lyvonne as she continues her research, because the communities she’s in touch with are ones we need to know more about. For instance, I’ve been aware of long-standing general estimates that one out of three girls will be the victims of sexual abuse before age 18. But from one of Lyvonne’s posts, It’s Not a Scandal, It’s a System, I learned of this specific research:
The Black Women’s Blueprint has an ongoing study that found 60% of Black women are sexually abused before they turn 18-years-old. Sixty. Percent. And, since the Black church is 85% women, that means that half of Black church congregations have been sexually abused.
If you’re interested in more about Lyvonne’s educational and theological training, “beautiful scars” ministry, and research work, you’ll find her website here: Lyvonne. The About page has links to her social media accounts plus YouTube videos of her as preacher, poet, and educator.
Meanwhile, thanks for considering participation in this important study – and please share the survey link!