What’s Been on Our Minds

Join us March 1st: Learn to bring your resonant self to life

Join us March 1st: Learn to bring your resonant self to life

We’re thrilled to invite you to join us March 1st, from 6:30-8:30, as we learn from neuroscience and trauma expert Sarah Peyton! We’ve had the pleasure of learning from Sarah for the last few years. Her insights into the neuroscience of trauma and resiliency have become central to the work and culture of OAASIS. Sarah recently wrote a book, “Your Resonant Self,” and she will be sharing some learnings and tools from the book with us. Find out more about the book at YourResonantSelf.com. It is an honor to host a space to bring Sarah’s brilliance, warmth, and compassion to you.
The riddle of self-esteem is complex. People often tell one another, “Be kinder to yourself!” But it can be difficult to shift to self-warmth that seems authentic. We ache for the real thing, even with ourselves. Sometimes it can even seem like our own brains get in the way. Once we start learning about neuroscience, we see how true this is, and we find out how emotional trauma creates self-blame and isolation, and gets in the way of gentleness with the self. We humans are uniquely vulnerable to emotional harm, but we are also uniquely available to hold each other and ourselves with warmth and resonance in ways that re-establish real relationship and engage our brains’ capacity for healing. Join this conversation with Sarah Peyton to learn more.

$15/ticket. Scholarships are available (please contact Klarissa at klarissa@oaasisoregon.org). Free for Rose Villa residents.

We hope to see you there!
The Compassion Imperative. From Hurt To Healing: A New North

The Compassion Imperative. From Hurt To Healing: A New North

OAASIS was honored to participate in a Day of Compassion at Angola prison in Louisiana. Our very own Mel Phillips was the keynote speaker. We’re pleased to share with you Mel’s powerful words about engaging compassion. Please pass them along.

Introduction by Klarissa Oh

My name is Klarissa Oh, and I’m delighted by the opportunity to introduce our keynote speaker, Mel Phillips, today. In order to do so, I want to give a short context of the organization he represents. Mel and I—along with two other staff members—are here from Oregon where we work for a survivor-led child sexual abuse advocacy organization named OAASIS.

 

We are here today because we believe that compassion is fundamental—and strategic—to our goal of enabling child sexual abuse survivors and children to live full and healthy lives. To be honest, we did not always consider compassion as core to our work. A wise friend once explained to us: it is not uncommon for organizations to take on the characteristics of the issue they work to address. OAASIS proved her statement true. In our work, we found ourselves feeding the same dynamics that marks abuse: shame, disregarding another person’s humanity, assuming un-nuanced binaries, silencing voices of threat, acting as though the ends justify the means. Ultimately, we found our strategy failing. With equal part trepidation and desperation, we set out to relinquish our organizational tools of shame and binary thinking for something else. What might that be? For us, it has been compassion. It has been non-violent communication. It has been resolving to see people as human beings first and foremost, recognizing that no action done to or by a person capsizes their humanity.

 

Mel Phillips is one of the people who has helped usher in a compassionate and enlivened change to OAASIS. Mel is OAASIS’ artist in residence, and as you will likely witness today, he is fundamentally an artist. He is also a survivor of child sexual abuse, a fierce and loving advocate, a dear friend, and a person whose very presence in the world builds my hope that a different world is possible. All these are tremendous attributes, however, the gift in Mel that I am most struck with today is that he is a human who sees. He sees at an angle, from an artistic bend. When I hear Mel speak, his sight expands my sight, inviting me to become more honest, more alive, more loving. Today we have the gift of listening to Mel, and I hope that you might open your heart and allow his sight to impact yours.

 

The Compassion Imperative

From Hurt To Healing: A New North, by Mel Anthony Phillips, 12/7/17 Angola Prison, Louisiana

As a victims’ advocate and as one who stands for the rights of the disenfranchised, I am The Guy you would want at your side in a crisis, and I am not boasting. In fact I’m quite proud of it. I can say this because I go about my work carrying the personal experience of someone who has been harmed, violated and trespassed upon in ways unthinkable by people who went largely unaccountable for their crimes, leaving a stain inside me like shit on a bright silk sheet. Yes, I am intimate with shame; I was once its most loyal concubine, holding it tight like a bleeding wound while slowly over time becoming numb to its cold, grimy hand constantly stroking the soft tissue beneath my skin.

 

I know shame, deep and crystal clear as any ocean on this Earth. I have felt red-hot embarrassment scald my face and neck like a grease fire. I know that self-hatred feels like a sharp icicle stuck in the middle of your chest, through your heart, coming out your back, and it takes a long time to thaw out. I know some things up close and personal.

 

No, man! Don’t try and tell me what the weather is. I know a certain degree of suffering. I have been a blizzard of furious contempt and distrust for people I judged; I have erupted in volcanic rage at matters beyond my control, and have quaked in fear of someone knowing my secret. I understand better than some the conflicting and shifting emotional patterns produced by trauma, as well as the unbalanced climate of criminal justice and the cumulus stigma of our society and culture where violence—particularly sexual violence—is concerned. No, man! Don’t try and tell me what the weather is. I’ve been through it. Mr. Hurt and me, we go back a long way.

 

Presently, all these years later, most of those old hurts have faded and I am humbled to walk in witness with many individuals, each of them at a different point in their healing and each with their own set of needs, but the first one is always the toughest. My first one was me. We will circle back to that.

 

I try to do in my advocacy what I wish had been done for me. I have committed a solid chunk of my life in the Good Cause realm of anti-violence, trying to help people reach the other side of their pain. I ask them, just tell me what you want: is it anonymity, justice, peace-of-mind, safety or silence? Okay, I can do that… I ask, who do you want to call, where do you want to go: to the hospital, the police, to church, the library; a safe house, Momma’s? Okay, let’s go now; I will take you there. Trust me. I see you; I feel you. I got you. I’m your one.

 

It’s hard, but the great thing about doing Good Cause work is it that you find yourself surrounded by really good people, for the most part. And when you are able to watch really good people, doing really good things in really good new ways and in real time, if you pay attention and ask a few questions, you can learn a few things. I have gathered a lot of useful social justice tools along the way and I am grateful for each one, for each asset I possess. Friends, colleagues and others doing their own things to benefit the planet have gifted me most of what I know. Throughout my time on this path I endeavored with full intention to personify—in some way to become—this collection of worthy tools, my assets and my gifts.

 

With this arsenal I am your armor, shield and helmet.

 

I am the 140-pound battering ram.

 

I am the Eveready flashlight of hope.

 

I am the hammer of truth and the nails of purpose, and the measure of sense and reason.

 

I am the iron shoulder; lean your heaviest weight on it and you will know its solid comfort.

 

I am your rock; either a steady grounded presence or a cool smooth stone like King David used to bash Goliath. In a moment of trouble, YOU decide which rock I need to be.

 

When the time comes, I am the small peaceful watch or the very large squeaky wheel. You need it… I got it for real.

 

For fighting the good fight, I have at my disposal all that and more if I dig deep enough. But the dullest tool in my shed was the most unused and least appreciated, yet most important of all the stuff I have and hold: real, simple compassion. And I want to talk about that with you today, this Compassion Imperative. It is necessary for me, for you, for all of us and I say it is the remedy for the pandemic inhumanity infecting our world today.

 

As I speak I am reminded of a true story I read several years ago about a young woman on vacation who was abducted by a man who planned to kill her after his brutal assault. Ultimately it was the woman’s quick wits and genuine compassion that saved her life and maybe even that man’s soul. The account was so incredible that its raw truth and emotional power were branded on my mind. I realized then that I could not have done what she did. I didn’t have that kind of miracle in me. And I thought about her—that young lady—a lot after that. I could never be as good as she, ever.

 

Although family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances would say I am a decent, free-spirited, open-minded, pure-of-heart sort of guy and they would be right –to a point. I wasn’t anything like that young lady, not by a long shot. Truth was that in many ways my spirit was anchored to a hard place in my consciousness, allowed to roam only a few lengths from that spot. That wide door of perceived mindfulness opened only for some and only so far. I was a good person trapped in a mental lockup of my own design.

 

It wasn’t until I decided to engage compassion that I learned to put this underused inner guidance system to direct use.

 

Without knowing, I had been slightly misdirected in my social justice aim, a bit off course on my mission and sometimes totally missed the point of my calling. Presently, as I set my essential being on a more compassionate course, this slender needle of awareness is guiding the vessel of my values. Compassion fuels me, directs me, buoys and steadies me when crises arise. My hope is lifted by the life raft compassion provides for others and me in need.

 

When I talk about setting my soul on a new life course and about life rafts and folks in need, I like that analogy of a ship on open seas because the words “compass” and “compassion” have everything in common and derive from the same root meaning.

 

“Com” is a prefix meaning “with,” or “as one” or “together.” It also implies that this with-ness, this oneness, this togetherness has intensity and force. And the word “pass” means to go beyond what has been done. In essence, compassion means for us to come together and, with intensity and force, to go beyond or rise above whatever boundaries to our highest callings.

 

A compass in our hands gives us longitude and latitude as well as the four directions: North, East, South and West and all the space in between, in order to go to those difficult and challenging places. Compassion in our hands gives us fortitude and an attitude of gratitude and all the space in between , in order to go to those difficult and challenging places. Like the compass and its four directions, compassion in our hearts has four directives: to See, Feel, to Act and to Heal. I call it the “three-action reaction.” And because the first three—see, feel, do—are in fact a domino effect that, when rightly aligned and combined, culminate automatically into this manifest reaction we call healing.

 

I know the mighty power of self-compassion. As a victim of violent crime, I can attest personally to its healing property. Still in all honesty it was a long time coming. In the 1970s & 80s we didn’t have words for what happened to me, not words I knew at 6, 8 or 11. People didn’t talk about such things, so I grew up and it came with me, like a shadow that never touched the ground. For years it was fistfights and foul language. I excelled at running and combat sports.

 

I did six years active duty military service, and for two of those years I tried my damnedest to knock the block off any dude who thought he might want to step into the ring with me. No pussy willow here, Jack. Mess with me and the only thing blowing in the breeze will be your ass. Bet that. First round bell, school bell, dinner bell or church bell, if it’s ringing I’m swinging, and with a fat bag of homemade whoop-ass!

 

But let’s be honest; most great warriors do have their setbacks. Napoleon had Waterloo, Rocky Balboa had Apollo Creed, and Ali had Frazier. Me? I had Scotty Wills, a very underestimated Texas lefty. He was one of the only guys who’d actually knocked me down; and not only did he knock me on my butt, he pretty much just cleaned my clock. If I’d had a little less pride I’d have probably jumped out of the ring to get away from that man. Instead, I stood there and took my punishment.

 

Scotty hit me so hard; I had never been hit like that. BAM!! I saw the light bulbs pop and every voice sounded like Charlie Brown’s mama asking him about his day at school with the little red-haired girl. No joke: five years later I am in my own apartment, brushing my teeth at the sink—this is a full three years after my discharge—I’m brushing my teeth and Scotty’s glove comes through my mirror and bopped me right in the temple. I had a flashback to that night in the ring. I think I was considering a comeback. Remember all that boo-gee about church bells, dinner bells and school bells? Well it all came to pass in the ring that night. Later, I was still hearing bells chime and thinking (ding) I need to pray, (ding) I need to eat something and (ding) I think I need to go back to clown college, (ding) Why is my head ringing?

 

It was after the bout with Scotty, I had to ask myself why I was fighting and what’s it all for; who was I fighting for? I stayed with those questions until finally going all the way back to him; that little guy, that first tiny little one. I had almost forgotten about him. So let’s circle back.

 

For a long minute I was chained to an ideal, closely bound to certain notions of righteousness and masculinity that, in ways I did not notice, barred my mind from reaching outside that rigid construct of what I believed was Justice. Yet it was in this moment of recollection and reckoning with my little self that the light bulb in my head just seemed to instantly turn on like a switch.

 

It came to me that I was fighting my childhood secret, trying to box it in the corner and keep it off me. I had been jabbing at my loathing and guilt to hold them at bay. I was battling the shame of my past. I was fighting to prove something to myself, you, him and anyone else who saw me in that square that I was nobody’s little boy. In fact, all this time I had been fighting me—HIM—my little self. But what had he done to deserve his dismissal to a back closet in my mind? What’d he do? He wasn’t anything but a little boy, a little me. Why should I be embarrassed of him, ashamed, mad, neglectful and uncaring? Whatever happened all that time ago surely was not his doing. So why do I hate him so?

 

I remember being more than surprised when I felt the flutter in my stomach and chest as he slowly scratched his way out of my skin, breaking through the fabric of my shirt like a precious baby bird. And in that moment of truth, my spirit reawakened.

 

He was cute as a chick peep and his skin shone rosegold against my own. He was sweet, innocent, curious, golden and perfect. Perfect, that’s what he was with his little man shoes all nicely laced-up with a loose lopsided bow he tied all by himself, the way Momma taught him. Then he spoke; a tiny voice, a sad little chirp like a nestling fallen from its tree. He looked right up in my face and said, “I’m sorry.”

 

I said, “Man, what you got to be sorry for”? And I could barely look him in the eyes when he said what he did.

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t run fast enough,” he said as I looked at his tiny brown legs about the width of my wrists. “I’m sorry I didn’t hit him or to kick him. I should of bit him hard,” gritting his baby teeth and, with his soft hands and paper fingernails, he shaped two tiny claws and said, “I should have scratched their faces and real hard. And I should have talked to that police man that one time—remember? But what if I got took from Momma?” I could see he was scared now, but he continued.

 

I’m sorry I didn’t tell anybody. I’m sorry I disappointed you. I’m so sorry I was so scared; so, so, scared. I should’ve been bigger.”

 

I say to him, “Little man, that ain’t for you. You can’t hold that; this is too big for you. You were 8. You were 8, and you were perfect. It wasn’t your fault.” I apologized to him for being the way I was, for denying his existence, hiding him out of sight like a shameful object. And I’m just standing there, tears in my eyes trying to understand how I had left him alone for so long, all by himself in a lost nook of my memory; stashed away like a filthy magazine. I say to him, “I see you; I feel you. I love you. I got you. You are not alone.”

 

I pick him up and hold him close, sniffing the Dax Pomade in his curly hair that’s laid to the side, with the part on the right side looking like a little mini Malcolm X. Like a good little Bayou boy, he smells like sweet-grass and swamp mud.

 

Then I ate him. I put him into my mouth and I push him down my throat like a Twinkie; he’s sweet, soft, comforting. I swallow him down, take him back into myself, put him back into every pore of my being and every strand of my DNA, and then go about the task to find a new space for him; a room with a little more light and a lot more love. It’s what he deserves; it’s what he needs; it’s what I need, too.

 

Compassion, the thing I was denying myself and others was, in itself, the antidote for my very own hurts. It was a potent pill resting in the palm of my hand the whole time, a tiny caplet of humanity, unused and still secure in its original silver lining. Compassion for others and myself is what redirected my life, shifted my mindset, moved my restive heart and recalibrated my moral GPS. I am on a better course, following a new North, a brighter guide star called Compassion.

 

Compassion is power you can hold. To understand the raw gravity of it you want to start with self-compassion. If you will indulge me please, let’s try it now. First lets close our eyes. Breathe in for a moment to center yourself and find that place of inner solitude; that peaceful place where all your memories and dreams are stored. Some of us might need to blow off the cobwebs and shake off the dust in that space, if you haven’t been there in a while. Breathe and remember. Let yourself conjure-up you—the BEST you that maybe ever was. Call out the little you. And let us be solemn here; let us be intentional here. With intensity and force let us come together—be together—in this place in this moment, to revisit ourselves at that particular point in time when we were angels.

 

For some folks it maybe has been a while since you actually laid eyes on that little one, your perfect You-ness. You might have to go all the way back before colors even had names, back to when words were for grown-ups, and giggles and farts was the language of the times. Can you see him yet? Do you see her? Do you see your little man, your baby girl—your best little self? Look at him. He is a cute little shit, shining like the sun in his little-man clothes, looking up at you and smiling so big as if he was just told that his birthday would last for TWO years. Uh-huh…

 

Make eye contact with them and keep it there. SEE him. As he beams up at you now, see him, as you knew them when—back when we were beautiful, innocent and perfect. Hold them close.

 

Lay and feel their cheeks, hair, their heartbeat and say this to your one,…

 

“I see you.” “I feel you.” “I love you.” “I got you.”

 

“You are not alone.”

 

Now, keeping our eyes closed and full of that vision of our best selves, turn your little man to the little man to the left of you and let them see each other. Look at them; they can’t help but smile. Now turn your little man to the other little man on his right. Oh yeah, they are going to get along just fine. Let us hold onto this vision just for a another minute; this is nice.

 

Hold on to you—that best little you—for the rest of the day or more. Take some time to reacquaint and catch-up. Then take them back into your flesh. Stuff him into your mouth and swallow him if you have to, and give them some space, some light and some love.

 

What a wonderful thing to be able to say to someone you love.

 

I See You. I Feel You. I Love You. I Got You.

 

You Are Not Alone.

 

And to be able to hear those same words, lifelong gifts wrapped in the voices of the someones who love you most.

 

These words have substance; these words hold weight, these are words you can stand on even if they come from a complete and total stranger. Do you see me now? Do you feel me? We are halfway there.

 

So maybe some of you are here because you abused, misused or lost control of your power. Now your power is modified, limited, restricted, repealed and suspended. But does this make you so powerless that you are unable to relieve your own suffering? Not if you turn to each other with compassion. The truth is: all you have is yourself and each other, that’s all. And it’s enough.

 

Experience the healing power of compassion, starting with you. The healing ointment you need rests just beneath the palms of your hands, just beneath your feet, at the tips of our toes, at the tips of our fingers and on the tips of our very own tongues. Compassion is an intense forceful act of resistance against inhumanity. It is an act of courage and grace and it’s only this far away from us. Our sun is 93 million miles away, but with the right perspective, I can hold it between my finger and thumb. Sometimes we feel like we are 93 million miles away from any kind of salvation, honor or redemption, atonement or comfort or forgiveness. But with compassion, the space between hurting and healing is reduced exponentially. Instead of being light years from grace, the possibility is only this far away. Step out. Reach out. Speak out. Compassion is a cure for the suffering human condition, and it is almost always within our grasp.

 

I stand before you right now as a person in change, Not so much a changed man but, rather, a changed mind; not so much resurrected but more like re-directed. Today the glowing quasar of compassion is what guides my personal path and lifework. Today I perceive my worldview through a different, much more compassionate lens. Remember the young lady I read about, the one abducted by the guy? Well, I met her recently, and she is as cool as you can imagine. She is bright, smart, caring and wonderful and I am honored to call her my friend. Maybe I’ll never be that good, but I will endeavor to give it my all.

 

Lack of compassion is a cell of its own. And I can’t live there anymore. I need to make space for this thing. There is space for a new reality, and in this space there is room for us all.

 

So let me close by saying that, in the spirit of advocacy and compassion, and the fighting spirit of this day and that boxing ring tonight, I am going to dig deep into my social justice arsenal to offer you this for the good fight, together let us be:

 

The tape and the salve to fortify and soothe;

 

The water and the bucket;

 

The mouthpiece of our convictions;

 

Let us be the gloves of safety and protection;

 

The needle, the thread and the stitch in the nick of time;

 

We are the sound of the bell!

 

I will champion for you and with you and together, with compassion and grace, we will triumph over the forces of violence, injustice and oppression wherever they may be. So right now I am stepping out, into the bright light of this new day to say to every glowing one of you, “I see you.”

 

I reach out right now to every pulsating one to say, “I feel you.” I speak out today in this harsh and humble place, to say to all incarcerated persons here today, I see you, I feel you, I hear you and I thank you; I got you. You are not invisible, you are not disposable, you are not unredeemable, you do have value, your life has worth, you are not without power, you are not debris, your life is significant, you can make a difference, you are enough and you are not alone.

 

Peace.

 

 

Take action: change the culture around sexual violence

Take action: change the culture around sexual violence

OAASIS is building a movement that empowers communities to prevent child sexual abuse and help survivors live full, healthy, joyful lives.

We know that child sexual abuse is part of a larger continuum of sexual violence. We also know that many survivors of child sexual abuse are also survivors of other forms of sexual violence. The recent resurgence of the #MeToo campaign is providing all of us an opportunity to shift the culture’s understanding of sexual violence and work towards systemic changes that better prevent sexual violence.

OAASIS is working with our partners at the Oregon Alliance to End Violence Against Women to help amplify our voices and build momentum for change. We can use your help. Will you join us by submitting a Letter to the Editor (LTE) in response to the Oregonian’s editorial, “Oregon Capitol needs a culture change,” published today?

Things to consider when writing your LTE:

1. LTEs are short, only 250 words or less. We get to keep it brief and impactful!

2. We want to promote a unified message. Please consider incorporating some of the following messages or ideas:

  • Sexual violence is a pervasive problem in Oregon. It doesn’t just impact individual Oregonians; it impacts families and communities across every corner of the state.
  • When people are forced to choose between their safety and their livelihood, no one comes out ahead: not the survivor, their family, their place of business, or the community.
  • Sexual violence is a community problem. The community needs to be part of the solution. Sexual violence is more than an individual’s actions; it is influenced by our cultural beliefs, practices, and structures. Together, our communities can change those influences.
  • It doesn’t have to be this way. We all have a role in creating the world we want to live in.
  • The #MeToo campaign began 10 years ago and is now part of the public conversation in a more visible way. Let’s continue to talk about sexual violence—and let’s take action to create safe, healthy communities. Our leaders in Salem have supported bipartisan efforts to create more safety for survivors, but more needs to be done.

3. You don’t need to disclose abuse in the LTE. Or be a survivor to speak out. Sexual violence impacts everyone in the community. We all have a right to safely speak out for change.

4. Timing is important. Please submit your LTE in the next day or two (by Oct 31).

To submit your LTE, please email it to letters@oregonian.com. Please include your name (which will be printed) and your full address and daytime phone number (which will be used for verification). Let us know if we can help you as you write your LTE.

5. Help us know what you’re saying, too. Please send us a copy of your LTE after you submit it. We’d love to read your insightful words! Since the Oregonian won’t be able to publish every LTE, this will help us keep track of the important conversation.

Thank you for speaking up and speaking out!

Join us Oct 19: a conversation about survivor-centered criminal justice reform

Join us Oct 19: a conversation about survivor-centered criminal justice reform

Imagine a survivor-centered criminal justice system. Think of the support survivors would receive throughout the process. Imagine if survivors’ views on accountability and healing were truly heard. Think of the action and safety plans that would be developed if the criminal justice system were centered on meeting survivors’ needs.

Join us Thursday, Oct. 19, 11:30 – 1, as we hear Danielle Sered, a powerful and groundbreaking victim advocate and criminal justice reform advocate, speak about her work to better meet survivors’ needs, reduce violence, advance racial equity, and reduce mass incarceration.

A few years ago, we had the pleasure of getting to know Danielle Sered’s work at Common Justice, an alternative to incarceration and victim services program in Brooklyn. While Common Justice works with people who have survived (and committed) crimes like robbery and assault, we see how this innovative work holds lessons for our movement to prevent child sexual abuse and help survivors live full, healthy joyful lives.

We hope you’ll join us and take the opportunity to get to know about Danielle‘s work.

“Uncommon Justice” with Danielle Sered

Thursday, October 19 at 11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Lewis and Clark College

Templeton Campus Center, Council Chamber

0615 SW Palatine Hill Rd. Portland, OR 97219

The event is free and open to the public. 

Because campus parking is limited, you may consider using Trimet or parking downtown and using the Lewis and Clark Shuttle to reach the venue.

Danielle will present a blueprint for how we can work to both reduce violence and mass incarceration. Danielle‘s work grapples with the world’s complexity and emphasizes meeting the needs of people harmed by crime, ensuring accountability, and advancing racial equity. Danielle‘s work challenges us to re-imagine justice. Her work and thinking are both provocative and inspiring.

Please join us in extending our thanks to our partners in this event: ACLU of Oregon, Criminal Justice Reform Clinic at Lewis and Clark Law School, and Partnership for Safety and Justice.

We hope to see you there!
One white lady’s thoughts on showing up for racial justice

One white lady’s thoughts on showing up for racial justice

When I was 13, I received one of the most important lessons of my life.

My brother was 19 and home for the summer from college. I absolutely adore my big brother–I did then and I do to this day. But when he was 19, he wasn’t necessarily making the smartest decisions. Knowing what we do about brain development, it wasn’t totally his fault. His prefrontal cortex wasn’t fully functional yet and, well, he was making some decisions that reflected that the logical part of his brain wasn’t fully engaged.

My brother was out drinking with friends one night and forgot to bring the key to our house with him. It was late and he didn’t want to ring the doorbell and wake our parents (and then get in trouble for being drunk). So he decided to break into the house. One of the kitchen windows was slightly open and my brother thought he would be able to shimmy it open more. But the window was higher than he could reach, so he found something to stand on so he could reach higher: a plastic bucket.

Unfortunately, only part of the window was located over solid ground. The rest was over a flight of outdoor concrete stairs leading down to the basement. My brother was standing on a plastic bucket, leaning over concrete stairs, trying to push open a window.

He fell down the stairs. Headfirst. And broke the bones around one of his eyes.

He of course then rang the doorbell, bruised and bleeding, and was rushed to the hospital. The doctors put metal plates around his eye to fuse the bones together again. My brother is fine now, but for a while we didn’t know if he’d retain the vision in that eye. It was a time of incredible pain for my brother and incredible stress for my family.

When my brother came home from the hospital, we invited the girl he was dating over for dinner. She had been at the beach with friends the previous weekend and got a bad sunburn. We were all seated around the large circular table in our kitchen: my brother at one end, heavily medicated, barely able to keep his head up, in pain and wondering if he’ll be able to see out of one eye. His girlfriend was at the table, too: complaining non-stop about her sunburn.

My family didn’t have room to hold her pain. It was hard for us to wrap our minds around her inability to see that we were dealing with something much more serious than she was. Yes, her sunburn was bad and deserved care and attention. Just not from us. We didn’t have the capacity to give her what she needed. Especially since she wasn’t showing up for what my brother was going through.

This experience stuck with me. I think of it a lot, especially when I, as a white woman, show up for racial justice and liberation, which is central to our work to end child sexual abuse and helping survivors live fully.

The sexual abuse I experienced as a child caused pain that has impacted many parts of my life and my family member’s lives. This pain deserves care and attention.

And my pain does not supersede the experiences of survivors of color. It is essential for me to have an awareness of the many forms of oppression that people of color experience–oppression that has come at the hands of people who look like me and that structurally benefit me and other people who look like me. As a white person, I have an opportunity to listen to people of color with an open mind and open heart. It is always an honor to strive to be a safe, trustworthy person, whose intention is to get to know someone as fully as they want to share. It is my responsibility to focus on supporting and loving a person whose face has been bashed in, instead of focusing on my sunburn.

I don’t always do this well. I always strive to do this better than before. And I always welcome feedback when my pain is blinding me to someone else’s.

Action Alert! Support safe, stable housing (HB 2004A)

Action Alert! Support safe, stable housing (HB 2004A)

Stable housing is important for people to achieve safety. Survivors of sexual and domestic violence are particularly vulnerable to displacement through no-cause evictions or extreme rent increases. Survivors of sexual and domestic violence, as well as people of color, seniors, people with disabilities, and people with low incomes, are disproportionately impacted when landlords exploit the eviction process. HB 2004A provides greater safety and stability to Oregon renters.

We need you to email your State Senator to say you want them to vote YES on HB 2004A.

Can we count on you to take action today? Just click “Take Action” and we’ll walk you through the quick, easy process.

Action Alert! Restore justice for survivors (SB 737)

Action Alert! Restore justice for survivors (SB 737)

The Oregon Senate has an opportunity to restore justice to survivors of child sexual abuse. SB 737, one of OAASIS’s 2017 legislative priorities, is scheduled for a vote in the full Senate Monday.

SB 737 ensures that people who were sexually abused as children can hold the people who abused them accountable, as well as the institutions that knowingly allowed abusers to be around children. SB 737 restores juries’ power to hear the facts of the case and determine case-by-case justice instead of applying a one-size-fits-all limit on what a jury can determine is fair and just.

We need you to email your State Senator to say you want them to vote YES on SB 737.

Can we count on you to take action today? Just click “Take Action” and we’ll walk you through the quick, easy process.

Join Us April 22nd! Sex Isn’t a Four Letter Word: Talking about Healthy Relationships & Sexual Health

Join Us April 22nd! Sex Isn’t a Four Letter Word: Talking about Healthy Relationships & Sexual Health

OAASIS’s next Chat in April will focus on healthy relationships and sexual health. Abuse can impact the way that we relate to ourselves and others, and healing often involves claiming a healthy way to be our full selves.

Healthy relationships are rooted in consent and respect. Our current culture simultaneously promotes and punishes. Entertainment media sexually idealize youth, while our culture also ascribes fear to human sexuality. Families and communities deserve greater support to help children, young people and adults develop healthy relationships and boundaries.

We can change the culture around child sexual abuse. Join us, Saturday, April 22nd to talk about sex, healthy relationships with self and others, and how to create a culture that supports healthy relationships and boundaries.  During this quarterly chat we will begin to change this culture—starting with ourselves.  Dr. Jane Fleishman and Annie Tabachnick (art therapy professor, Marylhurst University) will share about healthy relationships and sexual health, particularly in the context of having experienced trauma. They will begin by supporting a safe space for honesty and provide an interactive and informative structure for authentic and mutually respectful dialogue to occur.

Presenter and Facilitator: Dr. Jane Fleishman holds her PhD in Human Sexuality from Widener University and is a sexuality educator, researcher, and writer who believes in hope for people who’ve experience sexual or other forms of trauma.  Through Jane’s consulting firm, Speaking About Sex, she believes: “Speaking about sex can be a challenge particularly in the context of trauma and survivors of sexual violence.  Bringing discussions of healthy sexuality necessitates candor and a comprehensive sexuality education approach.  Education about healthy sexuality can result in the development of positive, mutual, and consensual sexual expression.”

Sex Isn’t a Four Letter Word: Talking about Healthy Relationships & Sexual Health

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 @ 9:30
Rose Villa, Portland, Oregon
Register to join us April 22nd. We hope to see you there!
Why we’re marching

Why we’re marching

The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving. – Gloria Steinem

OAASIS is building a movement that empowers communities to prevent child sexual abuse and help survivors live full, healthy, joyful lives. Our movement does not exist in a vacuum. We are impacted by the world around us, just as we impact the world.

For many people, the world around us has been having a more pronounced impact recently. We wrote to you shortly after the election, as we were talking with people who were being harassed and were experiencing trauma (new or triggered from the past). We talked with people who knew they should be treated with dignity and respect, but wondered if other people believed the same thing. We wrote to you to remind you that you are important.

In the months since the election, we continue to hear people’s concerns, fears, and anxieties, as well as ways that people have been harassed. People have wondered: when the world feels overwhelming, what do we do?

We continue to impact the world around us. We continue to build our movement. And we get to support—and be supported by—other movements that share similar principles and goals.

On Saturday, we’ll be joining thousands of people in the Women’s March. Klarissa will march in DC, representing OAASIS under the banner with other powerful organizations: Black Women’s Movement, Just Beginnings Collaborative, A Long Walk Home, Girls for Gender Equity, Sadie Nash Leadership Project, Just Detention International, ACLU, Hope Works of Howard County, Demos, #Our 100 Women of Color Initiative, Women Action in Media, and Mujeres Unidas y Activas. Kerry will be representing OAASIS in Portland, standing up for our values in our home community. We will be moving (literally) in support of principles we hold: dignity; respect; equity; and love.

Here’s why we’re marching: we’re marching because we love our country—and the people in it. We’re marching because we know that we, the people, have powerful voices. We’re marching because we believe everyone should be treated with dignity and respect—and we see daily that our structures and systems fail to make this a lived reality, particularly for people of color, low-income communities, women, people who are LGBTQ, people who have intellectual and physical disabilities, people who were born in other countries, and people who our predominant culture deems “other”. We’re marching because we know that we can change these structures and create greater equity and prosperity for us all. We’re marching because we believe that love wins. We’re marching because we believe that every single person has value and deserves to be safe. We’re marching as part of our work to ensure these values are upheld through every level of our government.

You are just as important today as you were on the best day you’ve ever had. We will carry that truth with us while we march, and hold it in all of our work.

Will you also be marching in DC or Portland on Saturday? If you will be in DC and want to march under OAASIS’s banner, please contact Klarissa; contact Kerry if you want to try to march together in Portland. And stay tuned for more opportunities to raise your voice and build our movement during Oregon’s legislative session.

You are important

You are important

Over the last few days since the election, we’ve talked with a lot of people, from a lot of different walks in life, who feel overwhelmed, anxious, and afraid. We talked with people who have experienced violence and harassment in their lives and the trauma from the past felt like wounds being re-opened. We talked with people who have been harassed over the last few days because of the color of their skin, their gender, their immigration status, or their religion. We talked with people who were sexually abused when they were children, who deep down know they’re worthy of being treated with decency and respect, but wonder if other people believe the same thing.

We’re here to tell you—and the rest of our community—that you are worthy of being treated with dignity and respect. Your unique, irreplaceable life is valuable. You are important.

And we greatly appreciate you.

At OAASIS, we seek to grow a community where all people live full, healthy, and joyful lives, and all relationships are based on respect, consent, and equity. We believe that love is a powerful way to create this community. We want a world where love and respect—not fear, not inequity, not violence—lead. And, as we at OAASIS have reminded each other this week, this love is not going to just happen on its own. You and we—all of us—get to make it happen. We need each other to make this transformative love happen.

Today—if you are feeling fear or if you are not—we invite you to look for a way to share love in this world and remind people that they’re important. Maybe you could earnestly look at the person selling you groceries and thank them. Maybe you can email someone to let them know they’re on your mind. Maybe you can gently rest your hand over your own heart and speak a word or two of love to your body that has been with you through hard times and easier ones.

This isn’t a request to put on rose-colored glasses; it’s a call to bring more love and dignity into the world in tangible ways. Right now. We hope you’ll join us. And we hope you’ll post on OAASIS’s Facebook page the way that you brought more love and dignity into the world today. Your words will help us choose love and dignity, as we hope our words might help you.

Your vote is your voice

Your vote is your voice

Would you be able to answer the following question?

“Write every other word in this first line and print every third word in same line, (original type smaller and first line ended at comma) but capitalize the fifth word that you write.”

It’s a confusing question. And it had high stakes. This question was part of a test used to prevent countless people of color from voting in Louisiana, as recently as 1964. If you couldn’t answer this question (and 29 others) correctly in 10 minutes, you couldn’t vote.

Voter suppression efforts like these have been used because voting is a powerful way to stand up for what you believe. One of OAASIS’s beliefs is that we can change the culture around child sexual abuse by speaking truth to power. Voting is one important way of speaking this truth.

If you haven’t already voted, you can drop your ballot off at a dropbox before 8pm tomorrow. Let’s all make sure our voices are heard tomorrow through our votes. And then let’s work with our elected officials to continue to create the world we want to live in.

Oregon House Judiciary Hearing

Oregon House Judiciary Hearing

Oregon House Judiciary Hearing on the criminal statute of limitations for child sex abuse. There were not 5 yes votes out of 9 to get it out of committee.

Join the Movement!

OAASIS is making an impact not only in the State of Oregon, but nationally! We are honored to collaborate with a growing national movement to end child sex abuse, and are doing our part here in Oregon. We need YOUR help!

If you’d like to join this movement, please provide us with your contact information so that we can keep you informed about what is happening to end child sex abuse in Oregon. We may occasionally call upon you to lend your voice and support when needed. Please stand with us to support survivors and protect children!