According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), a child is sexually abused every 9 minutes. Amita Swadhin was one of them. In 1991, at the age of 13, she revealed to her mother that her own father has been sexually abusing her for years.
Mandated reporting requires the therapist to alert the authorities, and for Swadhin, that experience only heightened her trauma. “Social workers, police officers, and prosecutors descended on our home. And I use that word intentionally because that's how it felt," Swadhin remembers. "They threatened to incarcerate my mother who had been a victim of my father's violence for over 16 years.”
“Coming out for survivors of child sexual abuse, I feel like it's a very parallel process to coming out or coming out non-binary — which are two other pieces of my identity," says Swadhin. “Our intervention in rape culture is about uplifting who we feel are some of the most vulnerable survivors who often get left out of movements to end sexual violence. We center Black and indigenous two-spirit, transgender, intersex, and non-binary survivors of child sexual abuse specifically," says Swadhin.
Mirror Memoirs is one of several coalitions fighting for policy changes that would create safe and supportive resources for children who are sexually abused. Swadhin knows the grief that comes with addressing sexual trauma. She also knows how important community is to addressing sexual violence, fostering health relationships, and finding path to healing.
“How do you give consent for most of us who were raped or sexually assaulted as children, particularly by our family members or in our homes, it's very hard to learn these very basic things, but we have to figure out how to strengthen our ability to be in relationships, because that is literally the only thing that we have to rely on for our healing and our wellness.
To learn more about Amita's work and the upcoming archives project, visit Mirror Memoirs.