What’s Been on Our Minds

Art at the Intersections: Brutal Beautiful Kingdom

Brutal Beautiful Kingdom

Animal Behavior in Church

Unpacking the Pack, the Herd and the Prayerful Predator


*This essay and call-to-action is an unflinching critique of rape culture, sexualized violence and spiritual abuse so pervasive in too many religious settings.  The material may evoke strong reactions in some readers.

 November 2022       By Mel Anthony Phillips


Welcome to another episode of “Brutal Beautiful Kingdom”.


Look!  Over there…


The wide dusty expanse of exotic landscape shimmers under a blazing sun.  Peaceable as the kingdom appears, something is amiss.  Two disparate parties enter the scene.  They eye one another.  It’s the thirsty zebra herd and the hungry hyena.  Five hundred zebra.  One lurking hyena.  The zebras are guided and managed by a leadership pack within the herd.  There is the top stallion in command who determines the direction they travel, where to graze and when to rest.  This top stallion is greatly aided by a small devoted crew of the herd’s biggest, strongest, bravest members.  The zebra leadership’s motives are existential.  The skulking hyena, on the other hand, is directed by the easiest mode of access for feeding its basest needs.  The unthreatening rover lingers in the low grass, fully blending into the pleasant scenery.  The grazing herd far outnumbers its leaders, one hundred to one.  They outmatch the hyena five hundred to one.  On the surface the proximal relationships between the parties are cordial, perfectly natural.  Nevertheless, the carnivore holds all the power.  The meat-eater establishes a cruel casual dominance.  As followers of the rules, the obedient herd is directly influenced by its leader and resolute pack.  Though aware of the predator in their habitat, the herd and its leaders tend to ignore the danger within their common area.  Somehow overlooked, the slinking beast dog becomes a regular accepted figure.  From now on the zebras will forever be prime cuts for the single-minded predator.  For the parties, this is their social structure.


One day a lone zebra is drinking from the watering hole.  This is its sustenance and lifeblood.  They cannot live without this oasis.  They have shown many others the way to this most cherished miracle spot.  Head bowed; the zebra takes a deep satisfying drink of their sole salvation. Oh, how good it is.  Suddenly, out of nowhere springs a violent attack.  The hyena strikes.  And what does the zebra herd do?  Do they rise up against their tormentor with gnashing teeth and slashing hooves using the force of their numbers to overwhelm the hyena?  Hell, no!  They run.  In fractured fury their fragmented unit takes flight.  This is herd behavior.   Herd Mentality is when groups of animals (including human beings) tend to react to the actions of others and follow their lead.  It is characterized by a lack of individual decision making and/or introspection, causing those involved to think and behave in a similar fashion to everyone else around them.


In response to this sudden maelstrom, leadership within the herd becomes supremely important.  The top stallion initiates the group’s actions and immediately decides where to go.   Westward, it is.  The top zebra sprints to the head of the scattering herd to commandeer the stampede.  The other selected zebra leaders also bolt into action around the herd.  Their responsibility is to help the top stallion keep the herd together as one solid, impenetrable core.  This is their crisis response stimuli charging into action to preserve the zebra collective.  This is pack behavior.  Pack Mentality describes the tendency for groups of empowered individuals to act in virtual cohesion without planned direction.  Thus, commanded by their strong posse of snorting protectors, the full herd kicks into high gear.  Together they all flee to safety.  Well, all but the one left alone back there fighting for its life.  They gallop fast, over any course and whichever direction their fearless leaders compel them.  They make sure to stay far away from the victim.  They huddle up tightly and close ranks for protection.  Then they stand still and stare silently at the cold calculated carnage screeching in the distant heatwaves.  For the zebras, this is their environment.


“Whoa,” says the shocked helpless zebra down at the muddy oasis.  “What just happened?  How?  And why me?”


Great questions, good zebra, and here’s the horrible answer.  Regarding the hungry hyena, honestly, the target—you—never mattered to the predator.  Prey is prey and any zebra would have sufficed, as long as the mark met the specific criteria.   Like perusing a menu, the hyena chooses the ones they perceive as vulnerable, easy to snare, control, conquer and simply—carelessly—discard without any consideration or accountability.  Which is exactly how it usually ends for the fated zebra.  This is the predators’ nature.  Sadly, over time, the scenario recurs so much that the herd becomes desensitized to their innumerable losses.  They seem unaffected by what is happening around them, copesetic with the sacrificial offerings to preserve the “safe” sanctuary of those who remain.  Including the voracious hyena.  The zebras have normalized the violence in their eco-system.  Fear and oppression have become a constant condition imbedded into their social structure.  This is their culture.


Later, in the far distance, the zebra herd is seen resting in the swaying grass.  A pitiful lost zebra calf wanders among the bedding group.  It calls out to its missing dear one. Shown in the foreground at the edge of the watering hole, a smiling hyena lounges with its fattened belly and lolling tongue.  A bony carcass poses nearby.  A drowsy round orange ball of melting sun burns its sizzling firebrand upon the darkening territory.


Tomorrow promises another eventful day of wide-eyed bewildering wonderment in the Brutal Beautiful Kingdom.  This is the reality.


Cut to black…




Our zebra herd versus the hyena is a classic examination of natural life-balance behavior in the wild animal kingdom.  Also, it is a disturbing picturesque parable about gross inexcusable human behavior that sinks far beneath the innate brute character exhibited by nature’s untamed creatures.  The proud zebra herd, top stallion and small pack of protective chargers reflect the actions of churches, their congregations and appointed leadership in crisis response.  The insidious hyena represents the presence of rape culture within church sanctums.  Rape culture is an environment in which sexual assault and other forms of abuse against women, girls and vulnerable people impelled to be marginalized is normalized in the media and popular culture.  It transpires in environments where violence is considered sexy and sexuality is violent.


Our allegory illustrates how herd mentality; pack mentality, unquestioned social structures and unexamined culture in religious communities goes a long way to help facilitate the unchecked predation occurring too often in too many churches and spiritual settings.  It speaks to the heinous spiritual, emotional and sexual abuses and assaults happening every day in thousands of neighborhood houses of worship across the country.  In addition, it notices the silence that follows as others are pressed to forgive, forget and move on.   Also, the visuals of the carcass and the calling lost calf symbolizes the damaging collateral impact of religious abuse on victims’ families and relations.


Christianity’s addiction to glorified violence is long standing and obvious.  Moreover, the Church’s rigid and narrow views on humanity, shame-based perspectives on sex, its binary characteristics, its aversion to self-awareness or healing wisdom outside its purview, these are cherished, hardwired ideas that broker no criticism in Christendom.  To the contrary, for churchgoers these segregate ideals are ubiquitous biblical tropes that abound throughout the gospel.  After two millennia of this internalized messaging, these Christianized credos have evolved into an even more amplified, personified, and exemplified embodiment of masculine omnipotence.  Because it has been allowed to persist unabated without context or language, the prevalence of rape culture in churches is minimized, overlooked and roundly ignored.  Despite their endemic androcentric steeping, many religious leaders and their typical hell-fearing church goers remain surprisingly ignorant to the prevalence of rape culture in their places of worship.


Most congregations are loathe to acknowledge the painful undisputed fact that sex crimes, abuse, assault, threats, harassment, emotional trauma and the enforcement of silence via biblical bullying can and does happen in their holy domains.  Not here.  Not in our House”, they say every time.   But the raw red blistering reality is that some of the most dangerous and traumatic spaces frequented by children, impressionable youth, vulnerable individuals and average everyday Americans is the house of God, the Church itself.  What happens—and continues to happen—is an unholy betrayal to faithful followers, and a sorrowful disconnection from morality.  More than anything, it is a boldfaced biblical outrage that must end.


Time after countless time within its walls, on its campgrounds, campuses, institutions and affiliations—and often with co-conspirators and enablers—predatory reverends, pastors, ministers, preachers and their carbon-copy protégés orchestrate the destruction of individual lives, families, livelihoods and firmly rooted faith.  Blending into the fold, covered within the church and protected by its anointed veil, prayerful imposters easily fit in by playing their pious roles.  This is the ultimate hyena trick for hiding in plain sight.  With their cloaks, veils and godly guises, the predators gain easy access to all manner of intimate face-to-face interactions in and outside of the church.  They place themselves there purposely, specifically, to prey in service to their personal dysfunctions.  This is their predatory nature.


The reasons predators and these vacuums of unaccounted violence have endured ad nauseum over many generations closely coincides with our safari analogy.  Take a look at church social systems, environments and culture.  Nearly all churches and spiritual communities are primarily hierarchical operations.  The church engages a power-over paradigm rather than a vision of shared power.  In most religious settings, the higher up one is, the more unquestioned power one has.  Even in that paradigm the basic rules of engagement are unbalanced, differentiated almost exclusively by gender and long-standing ill-conceived notions of patriarchy and male superiority.  Children, adored as they are, seem to have little agency or voice, if any at all, save for times when religious symbolism requires the reflection of a pure innocent presence.  It is not hard to imagine how such strictly defined social orders, built on clearly delineated platforms of status and authority can create distinct silos of churchgoing mentality.


In such unbending social constructions driven by fear of pain, blame, shame and loss, this operating model encourages parishioners to follow the leadership wholeheartedly, unconditionally, without question.  In this singular nonsecular environment, conjoined groups are created (like the zebra herd, its pack of leaders, and the hyena).  There is the congregation, the clergy and the prayerful predator; all keep regular company, exist in close proximity and have constant contact.  By divine decree, every person there is seen as equal in the eyes of God; from the preschoolers, to the pre-teens, to the preacher, to the practicing perpetrator.  That communal sentiment of implicit loving trust in every churchgoer, unchallengeable belief in lightning bolt miracles and instantaneous human transformation is hammered and nailed into the psychological frameworks of a plethora of Christian faith communities.  Though heavenly and heartwarming, this conviction to blanket statements of redemptive contrition and tearful apologies made without accountability or consequences is unhelpful, even harmful, to congregants needing safe sanctuary from their bible-beating abusers.


When herd, pack and predatory attitudes inhabit the same personal support systems, eventually that predatory counterpoint will erupt like a time bomb to deliver exponential fallout.  The Church’s patent brand of stratified order, rooted in imbalanced power and nonaccountability, commonly creates rife environs for prayerful predators and much of the gender-based abuse and violence that are the trademarks of rape culture.   Let us be clear, rape culture acts of violence are not limited to the bodily assault of rape, but other kinds of physical contact, as well as the more nuanced levels of language and speech, gesture and body language, symbolism and imagery.  All of this is what plays out so sublimely on the ornate sunlit stained-glass vignettes hovering above the pews, as well as in so much of the passionate storytelling projected from the pulpit.  Even more, and to an oversized degree, Christianity’s full-bodied fear of sex or anything supposedly sexual in nature renders sex talk of almost every kind strictly taboo on almost every level.  Spousal consent, healthy self-discovery, the omni-neurological nuances of gender identity, and many other important social topics of current times get no room at this limited inn.


Over eons, Christianity has been the premier icon of help for the hopeless, and a beacon of healing refuge for true believers.  In that span it has also revealed itself to be as much a trauma factory and truth silencer, especially against women and girls.  This could help explain the regular Sunday sermons that find inspiration in biblical scripture that not only diminish or pardon issues of domestic violence occurring within congregations, but they also blame the victims and place the onus of these experiences squarely upon the shoulders of the persons receiving the traumas.  Also common in many churches are divine discernments—usually not of the victim’s inspiration—urging victims to forgive their perpetrators, and vice versa, for the favor of God and continued life of the church.  This jaw-dropping regularity has become the cliché model for Christian conflict resolution of every kind, including rape and incest.  Forgive.  Forget.  Move on.  Praise the Lord!  However, churches above all entities, must know that forgiveness without accountability is not forgiveness at all.  It is shameful church sanctioned silence, coerced false witness, and a convenient soiled tapestry draped over the God-awful truth.


With limitless examples of how today’s Christianity (particularly its evangelical fundamentalist offshoots) supports and enables violence towards women, there is no question that Christian churches actively contribute to the normalization of rape culture in overall society.  How churches and congregations respond to crises of violence and sexual misconduct perpetrated within its dominions can be tantamount either to healing or horror for the folks harmed or victimized.  This is especially true with violence and abuse caused by respected church leaders.  Yet when critically examined, what the public sees in the vast majority of church sex abuse scandals is herd and pack behavior playing out in human form and spaces as congregational herds and their leadership packs focus on protecting the establishment by any means necessary.  This, even if it means a sacrifice of one (or more) to save the whole, including their prayerful predators. Chances are this worn-out old script is being staged right now in a place of prayer somewhere in the general vicinity.  Another church.  Another fail.  Another stain.  Another god damned shame.  For a vast share of church groups, the spirit for valiant action for the sake of innocent members is trumped by the stronger want for self-preservation.  As consequence for their historically flagging responses to the hyenas in their midst, some churches, even big well-known denominations, have become helpful safe havens for both skilled groomers of sexualized abuse as well as studious bible bearing predators in training.  These are the facts.


All said and done, it is nonetheless very important to acknowledge that organized Christianity is not a monolith of misery.  Charity and good cause in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is evidenced near and far around the globe.  In light of all their sacred vows of infinite love, unlimited compassion, deep inner peace and calm, and beloved family, clearly our legions of Holy Churches have much to offer the world-at-large.  But until they can bestow these graces upon the lives wrecked by their own hands, these pretty promises ring discordant and hollow in the souls of countless church abuse survivors.  Indeed, churches en mass must immediately and earnestly commit to making real, hard, honest changes to their critical failing.  That, or continue this careless collective cycle of harm.  Scores of Christian faith traditions, their clergy and congregations have an arduous uphill battle ahead to expel their preying inhouse hellhounds while vanquishing the demons of rape culture in their denominations.  Until then, welcome to another episode in that brutal beautiful kingdom.  This is the reality.


Cut to black….

Join us! Art it Out on Dec 12th!

Join us! Art it Out on Dec 12th!

Art: Front and Center.

Join us Dec 12th via Zoom to Art it Out! Learn more and RSVP here!

In our movements overall, and in various wellness spaces, too, art is there…but in smallish ways.

These days, art is mostly provided as a garnish—there, but set off to the side to accentuate the more brilliant main dishes offered on today’s abundant table of wellness, justice, and healing offerings. Art supplies are relegated to time-out spaces, quiet rooms, wellness sanctuaries, decompression stations and comfort spas. We engage art to settle the neurons that settle the nerves that settle the body.  Most often we use art as a medium for pause and momentary distraction, little more, and that’s unfortunate.

By no means am I throwing shade, this is not a put-down or a poke at anyone. This is just a simple observation. I am deeply gratified to see so many grassroots geniuses and good cause champions fighting to rid the world’s woes. We each have a role to play and, when it comes to nonviolent peace work, I say the more the merrier. All of those aforementioned artistic outlets are very excellent uses, and it thrills me to no end to see art included in these spaces for those purposes. The stuff works wonders everywhere. Moreover, I also know that, when used for personal practice and applied with deeper intention, it can be a righteous query, a reflection, an exploration and roadmap back to Self. Art is food for the Soul.

Friends, it would be ridiculous to believe that art, in and of itself, is the game-changing panacea for all global ills. Art is merely a pebble in the larger mosaic of pieces needed to complete the full big picture of healing we envision for the world. All I’m saying is art expression oftentimes is an underestimated, underutilized power mechanism. Its properties stretch beyond diversion, entertainment and tension release. Along with being fun, distracting and even soothing to the senses, it is as well a very accessible and helpful exercise in wellness. Poetry, music, dancing bodies, Crayons, ink pens, pencils, chalk, and paintbrushes; all these are colorful joysticks to be used any day, every day.

Art is power because art empowers and, with the help of OAASIS friends, I aim to keep art front and center. Together, let us upgrade art expression from a mere garnish on the plate to a spicy appetizer or special treat. Artistic expression should be offered as a tempting invitation to the coming courses of social justice brain foods. Imagine enjoying an intoxicating poetry aperitif before biting into that tough slab of anti-oppression work. How about a nice invigorating collage, while digging into that entrée of Social Justice 101? And for dessert, care for a sliver of interpretive movement or perhaps a piece of impromptu Jazz Jubilee after devouring that heavy tray of International Human Rights and Environmental Justice? Art is a great compliment to almost any conversation, hearty or light. To feed our need for voice, as well as to nourish the ailing spirit, art in all its ways can be more than a morsel of help. It can be that source of healthful sustenance required for meaningful introspection, soulful exploration and personal growth.

Bigger than a prop, may our artistic expressions be powder blue prompts toward self-awareness. Let us gather and draw upon bright orange nudges at curiosity.  United, may we find our evergreen calls to self and to the service of others. Let us strengthen each other as we don our hearts with war paint and muster the will needed in preparation for our nonviolent revolution of change.

Will you stand with us front and center for the causes of creativity, community and justice?

Join us each month and let’s Art It Out. Looking forward to being in community with you.

Join us! Virtual Happy Hour Chats!

Join us! Virtual Happy Hour Chats!

Join us every Saturday through the end of 2020 for virtual happy hour chats!

Happy Hour Chats with OAASIS! Every Saturday, from 4:00-5:30 pm Pacific, through the end of 2020, via Zoom.

Let’s talk about survivorship, current events, life events, our joys and sorrows–all that makes us whole, full humans!

Learn more and register today. Please email Kristi@oaasisoregon.org with any questions and access needs.

Hope to see you soon!

Join us Feb 22nd!

Join us Feb 22nd!

In our work with survivors over the last ten years, we have learned a few things. At the top of that list is a recognition that healing looks different for each person and that healing and wholeness do not often happen in isolation. We are social beings. We are impacted by the people around us. Some experts refer to this “MWe.”

If the term “MWe” is new to you, you aren’t alone. Dr. Dan Siegel, an expert in the brain science of trauma, resiliency, and language, uses MWe to talk about how the human brain is hardwired to be both individual (Me) and connected to other people (We). Our brains are continuously being reshaped by our experiences. The We influences how we experience the Me. Likewise, the Me influences what the We can become.

We, at OAASIS, seek to create empowered spaces in this world where survivors and allies and all people can access their full self and be in community with each other. This is tricky work for sure, especially when for so many of us, our sense of trust has been violated. But we also believe that it is vital work if we want to live full, healthy, and joyful lives. And we do.

As such, we will be meeting over the next several months to build our connection to ourselves and to each other. Our times will be simple: a check in, a grounding meditation, a brief and optional learning time around a particular subject, a related art activity/expression, and snacks.

In February, our focus will be setting our intentions for the new year.  We will create an art collage to access the topic of our intentions for the new year, led by Mel Phillips and Kristi Kernal. For any of you who want to set some intentions for the new year, and have not had the space to do so, this might be a great opportunity for you to do this work—in the supportive and inspiring company of others.

Learn more and sign up here!
A Year of Wonderful (2020 Calendar)

A Year of Wonderful (2020 Calendar)


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, as you’re reading this post, you experience a sense of ease with life, hope for the future, and excitement that you’re making the world a better place.

At OAASIS, it’s common for us to make “wouldn’t it be wonderful” statements. We do this intentionally. Neuroscience indicates that making statements like this engages language centers found in different areas of the brain, allowing people to relate to themselves and each other with more warmth, compassion, and curiosity. You might want to give it a try. Anything goes with a “wouldn’t it be wonderful” statement, even if it seems impossible (one of my favorites is: wouldn’t it be wonderful if every time someone sneezes, survivors become safer, people become less racist, and every structure that oppresses people becomes more equitable).

As we enter into a new year and new decade, we wanted to share some of the “wouldn’t it be wonderful” statements that OAASIS staff are bringing to our work. We created this 2020 calendar that you can download, print, and share.

Here’s to a wonderful new year and new decade!

Download the calendar now!

Love & Support this Holiday Season

Love & Support this Holiday Season

The holiday season can be loaded with deep emotions.

For some people (whose needs are being met and values are held), the holiday season can be a time of feeling deep delight, joy, connection, cheer, security, and warmth. For some people (whose needs are not being met and values aren’t being held), the holiday season can be a time of feeling sad, scared, overwhelmed, detached, helpless, and fatigued. These are just some of the deep feelings people can experience. What seems to be a common experience is that the holiday season often intensifies what people feel and what people expect they should be feeling.

Survivors of child sexual abuse and other forms of violence and oppression have experienced deep harm, betrayal, and violations of trust and sense of self. The harm, betrayal, and violation occur because a relationship that should have been safe was made unsafe when a person became sexually, emotionally, and/or physically abusive. The harm happened in relationship.

Healing also happens in relationship. And we want to connect you with some love and warm wishes from other survivors.

Want to talk with a supportive advocate?

Want to talk with a supportive advocate?

OAASIS deeply appreciates that you’re reading our website. If you are a survivor, a survivor’s loved one, or an ally, we’d love for you to join us at an upcoming event and join our community to help create a culture that prevent child sexual abuse and supports survivors to live full, healthy, joyful lives.

If you are looking to speak with a trained, supportive advocate, please consider calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE. They offer free, confidential support 24/7.

It’s a lot to hold. So, let’s hold it–together.

It’s a lot to hold. So, let’s hold it–together.

There’s a lot happening in our culture that is hard to hold. Further disclosure of sexual abuse and negligence at the Boy Scouts. Children continuing to be separated from their families and detained in unsafe and unhealthy environments. Mass shootings. An increasingly public and violent surge of white supremacy.

It’s a lot to hold. It impacts us as survivors of child sexual abuse and survivors’ loved ones, as there are triggers of our own abuse and our culture’s response, as well as an awareness of just how much work is left to create a culture that values, respects, protects, and empowers children.

So let’s hold it—together.

This is different than what our culture tells us to do: hold it together. When we hold it together, we often wind up trying to hold our feelings at bay so we can do. So we can be. So we can survive.

We’re going to try something different in this email. We’re going to try, in a small way, to hold it—together. We’re going to try to use this email as a way to accompany you, even if just for a moment.

We wonder if you’re feeling anxious. Afraid. Heartbroken. Overwhelmed. Sorrowful. Unsteady. Numb. Horrified. Enraged. Yearning for a different reality.

We wonder if you have a need for safety. Stability. Understanding. A shared reality.

We wonder if you have a need for connection. Belonging. Care.

We wonder if you have a need for respect. Equity. Community.

We wonder if you have a need for the wellbeing of the people you love.

We wonder these things because we care about the OAASIS community. Because we want you to know you’re not alone.

Together, we can do something more than holding it together.

Take Action! Prevent Sexual Violence!

Take Action! Prevent Sexual Violence!

Friends, we have a huge opportunity to help prevent sexual violence. HB 2657 will invest $3 million in dedicated funding source to ensure greater capacity for community-based non-profits, culturally specific, and tribal programs to implement violence prevention education in K-12 and other community settings.

This funding is needed so more young Oregonians can have safe, healthy relationships. It’s up to all of us to make sure Oregon legislators know we want this investment in sexual violence prevention.

Please email your State legislators. You can personalize the message, if you like, but you don’t have to personalize it. If you do, please don’t disclose confidential information because this email will be part of the public record.

Sexual violence is preventable. We all have a role in supporting safe, healthy relationships.

Thank you for supporting sexual violence prevention!

Join us for an evening with Aishah Shahidah Simmons and NO! The Rape Documentary

Join us for an evening with Aishah Shahidah Simmons and NO! The Rape Documentary

OAASIS knows that both love and accountability are keys to the world we want to create—a world where survivors are powerful and children are safe.
We hope you’ll join us June 1st for a screening of NO! The Rape Documentary and talk back with filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons. This event will be a space to explore both love and accountability.
Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning Black feminist lesbian documentary filmmaker, cultural worker, scholar, and international lecturer whose work, since 1994,  has continuously examined the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and sexual violence. A survivor of child sexual abuse and adult rape, Simmons is the producer/director of the groundbreaking, 2006-released, Ford Foundation-funded film, NO! The Rape Documentary. She is also the creator of the #LoveWITHAccountability™ Project and the editor of the forthcoming anthology, Love With Accountability: Digging Up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse (AK Press, Fall 2019). Simmons is a Just Beginnings Collaborative Fellow and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, where she is also an Affiliate Scholar at the Ortner Center for Violence and Abuse in Relationships. She is also a member of the Advisory Board of the University of Arizona’s Consortium on Gender-Based Violence. Her writings are published widely, and her cultural work and activism are documented extensively.  Simmons has presented her work across the U.S and Canada, and in numerous countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @AfroLez.
Brief Description of NO!

NO! The Rape Documentary is the 2006-released, internationally acclaimed, Ford Foundation-funded, groundbreaking feature length film that explores the global atrocity of rape of cisgender women by cisgender men, and other forms of sexual assault through the first person testimonies, scholarship, spirituality, activism, and cultural work of Black people in the United States. Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award- winning author of The Color Purple says, “If the Black community in the Americas and in the world would save itself it must complete the work this film [NO!] begins.” Since 2006, NO! has been continuously screened and distributed to racially and ethnically diverse audiences at film festivals, colleges, universities, high schools, correctional facilities, rape crisis centers, battered women’s shelters, conferences throughout the United States and Canada, and in countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, and South America.

Take action! Speak up for survivor safety and support

Take action! Speak up for survivor safety and support

This Thursday (March 14) is an important day for survivors of sexual and domestic violence in Oregon.

We need your help to let the legislature know Oregonians take domestic and sexual violence seriously.  Two pieces of legislation need your time and attention.  It won’t take long, but the impact will be enormous.

1) SCR 25, declaring the legislature’s support for survivors of sexual violence and pledging to create an Oregon that is safe for all survivors, is scheduled for a final Senate vote in the morning of the 14th.

2) The Public Safety budget committee will consider a $10M increase funding for lifesaving domestic and sexual violence services that same afternoon.

Please contact your State Legislators.  You can personalize the message, if you like, but you don’t have to personalize it.  If you do, please don’t disclose confidential information because this email will be part of the public record.

Survivors, advocates, and allies, let’s turn up the volume and ask Oregon’s leaders to double down on their support for survivors!

Action Alert! Support safe, stable housing (SB 608)

Action Alert! Support safe, stable housing (SB 608)

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. SB 608 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 SB 608.

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

Take Action! Let’s say thanks and create some momentum!

Take Action! Let’s say thanks and create some momentum!

OAASIS was proud to be one of the 308 organizations around the country that came together behind the #DearWorld call for change to end sexual violence and harassment. We’re exctied to see how the #DearWorld call has led to #20Statesby2020–a campaign calling on state leadership to create meaningful change preventing sexual violence in 20 states by 2020.


Let’s help Oregon be one of those states! Almost 1/3rd of Oregon legislators signed on to the national pledge. This is a great time to thank the legislators who signed the pledge and ask them to create meaningful change this legislative session. The changes we’re promoting didn’t come from a national group; the changes arose from hundreds of survivors and advocates across Oregon. Survivors and advocates were clear about the changes they want most: increased access to lifesaving survivor services; investing in sexual violence prevention; and supporting safe, stable housing.


Will you join us by saying thank you and asking for change? It only takes about a minute and is an effective way to show legislators that we care about survivors.


Please take action today! Thank you for supporting survivors!

Take action! Help support survivors’ confidentiality and safety

Take action! Help support survivors’ confidentiality and safety

On December 8th, Oregon’s Council on Court Procedures (COCP) will be meeting to vote on a change to Rule 16 to continue to allow pseudonyms (like “Jane Doe”) to be used in civil cases.  This rule would allow survivors of sexual violence to seek civil justice without having to share their identities with the whole world (which carries with it the risk of retaliation and harassment from abusive people, facilitators of abuse, and their supporters).

Why are pseudonyms important? Many people don’t disclose abuse because they feel ashamed and are afraid of retaliation and harassment for speaking out. Providing survivors the option to use a pseudonym on civil court documents allows survivors to have greater safety and confidentialit

We need you to email the Council on Court Procedures to say you want them to vote to allow pseudonyms.

Can we count on you to take action today?

Where we stand

Where we stand


Sexual abuse thrives in the shadows of secrecy. That’s why we oppose Measure 105.

Over 30 years ago, Oregon passed the nation’s first sanctuary state law, with broad bipartisan support. The law has helped countless Oregon survivors access safety and support services without fear of federal immigration consequences. But this law’s future is in jeopardy: Measure 105 would overturn Oregon’s longstanding law and put survivors’ safety at risk.

Oregon’s current law protects survivors. It is important for survivors of sexual violence to access the justice system without fear of arrest, deportation, or racial profiling. When survivors fear the justice system, they are less safe, can miss out on essential trauma recovery services, and their voices are silenced.

Our communities are safer when local dollars are invested in local crime prevention and survivor services. Survivors need more access to services, not less. Measure 105 would funnel our local law enforcement toward responding to federal immigration issues, diverting local dollars away from critical services that people need in times of crisis.

Measure 105 would create barriers for survivors, generate fear, and reduce public safety.

It’s up to all of us to decide what happens next. You—and other Oregon voters—will choose the outcome.

Let’s embody our values of standing up with—and for—people who have been harmed; building equity; recognizing people’s humanity; and counteracting the isolation that accompanies sexual abuse.

We hope you’ll join us in opposing Measure 105.

Dear Survivors. Love, Survivors

Dear Survivors. Love, Survivors


What was done to you doesn’t define who you are.

You deserve to be seen.

You have value.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve heard from survivors who have felt afraid, angry, isolated, bewildered, anxious, hurt, and heartbroken. Survivors have had a need for safety, dignity, harmony, healing, belonging, inclusion, and security. Survivors’ loved ones have had a need for the well-being of the people they love. People have expressed a need for shared values and a shared reality. People have needed to feel connected.

You are not alone. We want you to be able to remember that—always. And we want you to have easier access to the wisdom of survivors and survivors’ loved ones.

OAASIS created Dear Survivors. Love, Survivors. This is a downloadable, printable compilation of words of support and inspiration for survivors and loved ones, from survivors and loved ones.

We hope you’ll check it out.

And we hope you’ll know—and really feel—that you’re part of a community of wise, brave, strong, inspiring, caring, bold, and transformative people.

Join us for a sexy survivor and action workshop with Ignacio Rivera!

Join us for a sexy survivor and action workshop with Ignacio Rivera!

We’re thrilled to host Ignacio Rivera on Oct 6th for a sexy survivor and action workshop!
Sexy Survivor Workshop with Ignacio Rivera
10am-1pm: Sexy Survivors
Join us for a creative and interactive dialogue around survivors of sexual abuse and how they have navigated safe, empowering sexually healthy lives. It is also a forum for partners and allies of survivors to gain tools in supporting sexy survivors. All too often, sex is altered, damaged and or complicated for survivors of sexual abuse. It takes time, patience and trial and error to figure out what works for us. This workshop is not a therapy session but a more of skill and strategy share. We hope to encourage success building and future dreaming dialogue as we all share stories and ideas of what has worked for sexy survivors.
1pm-2pm: Lunch (on OAASIS!)
2pm-5pm: Action Workshop
Join in this interactive workshop to breathe, move, stomp, and act out. We will collectively hold space to express in a variety of ways how trauma has/is existing in our bodies. We’ll explore how to move, mold, walk with and release. This workshop uses theater techniques, visualization and movement to tell our stories and create collective healing from childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault and trauma.
Ignacio Rivera M.A., is a queer, Trans, Two-Spirit, Black, Boricua, Taíno who prefers the gender-neutral pronoun they. Ignacio is an activist, writer, educator, filmmaker, performance artist and mother. Ignacio has been sharing spoken word, one-person shows, and storytelling internationally. Ignacio’s body of work has focused on gender and sexuality; specifically on queer, trans, kink and sexual liberation issues within a race/class dynamic. See more on their website at: https://www.igrivera.com/
Structures got it wrong. Let’s right the response.

Structures got it wrong. Let’s right the response.

The response to child sexual abuse can be as impactful as the abuse itself.

Let’s sit with this for a minute. When a survivor discloses that they were sexually abused as a child, the response the survivor receives can shape the trajectory moving forward. A caring, open, and grounded response can bring a sense of safety and security. A disbelieving, questioning, dismissive response can bring a sense of isolation and shame. A number of survivors have told us that some of the responses they received felt more harmful than the abuse itself.

All too often, our culture’s response to child sexual abuse creates more harm. From the Catholic Church to school systems to athletic programs, the news right now is filled with examples of what we don’t want to happen when a survivor courageously comes forward: otherizing survivors and using anger and fear of child sex abuse for political gain.

So, OAASIS community, let’s try to embody what we do want to happen.

  • Believe the survivor. Show this in your words and your actions.
  • Listen with an open heart and mind.
  • Keep listening with an open heart and mind.
  • Understand that the survivor is in the lead. It isn’t your role to fix anything.
  • Understand that your role is important. Be trustworthy and supportive to the best of your ability.
  • Let the survivor know the abuse wasn’t their fault.
  • Know that people can heal from the trauma of child sexual abuse.
  • Trust that the survivor knows what they need to live more fully. If the survivor wants your help in accessing support, provide it to the best of your ability.
  • If your response causes harm, be humble and try to repair the harm, if the survivor is in a place where they want to have that conversation with you.
  • Realize that no one has all of the answers (including OAASIS). We can continue to learn and grow and change together.

It may seem simple. It may not always seem easy. Together, let’s try to provide a caring, open, grounded response so more survivors can be safe and supported on their healing journeys.

If you’d like more information, please check out more of our website, your local child advocacy center, or your local domestic and sexual violence services program. If you’d like to help OAASIS continue to learn and grow, please answer our survey.

We are the community. Let’s be the change.

Take Action! 2018 OAASIS survey

Take Action! 2018 OAASIS survey


We’re going to ask you to do something bold for a few minutes.

We’re asking you to imagine a world where child sexual abuse does not exist. Will you join us in imagining this world for a few moments?

It’s a big ask. For some people, it might feel exciting and inspiring to imagine this world. For some people, it might feel overwhelming. It makes sense to experience any number of reactions. We’re asking you to imagine something that is far from our current reality.

Yet this is the reality we’re working toward. We know we won’t reach this reality tomorrow, next month, or next year. We also know that what we do tomorrow, next month, and next year can get us closer to this reality or move us farther away.

We’re seeking your thoughts as we continue to focus our resources as strategically and effectively as possible. Will you please take a few minutes to answer a brief survey? As a small sign of our thanks, the first 20 people who complete the survey will receive a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Complete the 2018 OAASIS Survey


Thank you for imagining with us. Thank you for working with us. Thank you for helping to make this a world that better reflects the one we want to live in.

Art at the Intersection: Youth Movements & the Hip-Hop Revolution

Art at the Intersection: Youth Movements & the Hip-Hop Revolution


Art at the Intersection, a Mel Phillips piece

Remembering The Movement That Grooved The World    

Observing the youth reaction to the most recent high school mass murder in Florida—witnessing their raw anger and steely determination to act, to resist and push back against the all-or-nothing gun rights rhetoric in order to affect meaningful change in their schools and communities—this brings hope to my heart and a smile to my face.  Youth too often get a bad rap, usually perceived as spoiled self-centered, disinterested game junkies wired into the Internet and unplugged from daily reality.  But now, seeing them marching in the streets, hearing their raised voices ringing throughout the halls of justice, speaking their righteous truth to the truculent powers-that-be, one must surely readjust any hazy, negative optics cast on this vital, maturing citizenry.

Youth rock!

When young people find a common purpose and unite around a singular goal, and join as a seamless collective, more often than not, good things follow.  Forged by the fire of personal tragedy, I see in these newly wrought activists, advocates and peacemakers all the best of humanity: empathy, selflessness, courage, and a passion for good.   We all should be uplifted by their tenacity, and should support and encourage them to keep it up.  These kids and young adults are fine models of what action, activism and civic responsibility looks like.

Movements, like many things, come in rotations and cycles; usually each generation or so, something historic comes to pass.  Maybe this youth push for responsible gun laws will be the moonrise that turns the tide on gun reform in this country.  Their impact on that juggernaut remains to be seen, but I sure admire their willpower and fire.  The last big American youth uprising like this present one was the Hip-Hop revolution of the late 1970s and 80s.  After decades of being unheard and overlooked by the mainstream, undervalued by corporate gatekeepers, and essentially invisible to politicians’ broader vision, young Americans on both coasts—predominantly black and brown urban kids— collected to ignite a riot of rambunctious creativity that made the nation look up and take notice.

Street art is the heartbeat of many communities of color.  If you want to tap into the flow of community relations, graffiti renders the true pulse of a neighborhood.   A cruise around a block is revealing; if bright murals, citizen sculpture and wall art outnumber tags and slashes, this reflects a neighborly sense of pride.  But reverse these trends and typically there is more urban decay and youth frustration.  Urgent graffiti resembles a hospital EKG, which should have been the first sign of a swelling youth outburst.  It was an inescapable, nationwide diffusion of spray painted gripes plastering the cityscapes.  Graffiti—the rebel’s monogram—is street talk, the cool cryptic lingo of counterculture, created of the people, by the people and for the people.  Graffiti is as ancient as written language and maybe the purest form of social commentary.

By the late 1970s, clearly the ancient scripture was already on the walls.  Almost anyone caring to notice would have easily deciphered the angst imbedded in all those dark indelible memos, queries and admonitions scribed in magic marker, Krylon and Rustoleum.  Adolescent distemper was rampant and something was up; the youth fringe was agitated and tense.  What was up: violent crime in US cities and suburbs was up; youth unemployment was up as well as school dropout rates, teen pregnancy and drug use, STDs, police brutality and juvenile incarceration, just to name a few headlines of the times.  Youth in America were fed up with being ignored, and from the Burroughs of New York to the inner cities of Los Angeles, the writing was indeed on the walls as well as buildings, subway cars, city buses, park benches, storefronts, sidewalks and school yards everywhere—the scrawl and sprawl of youth discontent.

Armed with rapid-fire graffiti, fat strips of junked cardboard, enormous boom-boxes, artistic grit, fearless natural talent and grand ideas, these fiery upstarts used original melodies and acrobatic choreography as messaging tools, ultimately reversing their collective void into one coherent voice and reshaping their misery into music with a mission.  Today that music and style is called Hip-Hop.  Hip-Hop is the synthesis of many creative forms.  Its stylistic diversity and social potency is what makes Hip-Hop such an exciting and universal mode of expression.  Of course these days nearly every advanced population on Earth is familiar with and/or uses elements of Hip-Hop culture, appropriating its musical style or clothing fashion to express themselves and tell their own narratives.  Hip-Hop is a world phenomenon and it all began right here in America’s toughest inner cities.

B-boys and B-girls became the living breathing moving spirit of Hip-Hop and breakdancing found its passionate choreographic embodiment.  This aggressive dance style had never been seen before, a kind of non-violent skirmish where dancing replaced gang banging and bloodshed.  It is a battle of style and substance, and it was precisely this combative aspect that captivated audiences everywhere.  These were breathtaking dance rituals, full-tilt, no holds barred incredibly physical feats of uncharted eye-popping choreography.  Also at that instant Hip-Hop’s musical pioneers—DJs and MCs—sprang up from this same subterranean fray.  These bass-beat prodigies and Rap impresarios spun vinyl gold and spat incredible melodic verses abut daily life on the mean streets in the big city.

Rappers created the literary chronicles of modern Hip-Hop.  They wrote old stories anew and spoke innovative poetry in novel measures and meters.  These young outsiders wrote the truths, the myths and fables, fairy tales and the legends of a generation.  The songs were amazing, each cut wholly informed by life experience, elevated by sentient intelligent lyrics that, though specific to its creators’ cultural perspectives, still today speak lucidly to the larger world.  Adding to the mix, genius DJs invented funky ill master beats that superpowered the lyrics, drove the groove, and energized the party atmosphere.

Together break dancers, rappers and DJs crafted tight dance routines and astonishing moves, rapped clever, timeless, homegrown stories and ballads that rung with reality, acknowledgement and a sense of pride to their neighborhoods and homies.  Hip-Hop gave voice to their nearly invisible American existence.  Through music and dance, they would wage war on each other and the rest of the world.  There was competition in the performances and lyrical challenges and battles of the beats; there were slamming verses and ecstatic crushing crowds but no spilled blood.  The war was in the words, and those spinning wheels of wax shifting, scrunching, slicing and ripping old melodies into monster mashes.  Especially, the war was in the battle dances—the spins, twists, turns, flips, hits, pops, locks, bumps, freezes, ticks, slides, drops, shocks, windmills, breakdowns and moonwalks—all techniques of the art form as well as metaphors for our basic human conditions.   Proudly breaking rules, breaking away, breaking down constructs, breaking tradition, breaking barriers, this is the legacy of American Hip-Hop culture.

See what can happen when the explosive ingredients of restive angst and youthful vigor combine?  Who knew way back then that one day these restless rogues would transform their melancholy into an upbeat mainstream movement that would go on to create a modern entertainment genre and capture the world’s attention, dominate the popular music industry, and change the face of American Pop culture forever?  Almost no one.  And why?  At first very few people took these New Jack prophets seriously, mostly because they were teenagers.  The wider public saw Hip-Hop as a national nuisance rather than a nuanced cultural renaissance led by youth of the pan-African and Latinex diaspora.  Basically, it was hard for people to see beyond Hip-Hoppers’ ages, ethnicities, skin tones, or the ill-fitted attire, or their take-no-shit attitudes, or their inventive street savvy lexicon.  To most folks, these kids didn’t look like real singers and performers like on the Mickey Mouse Club.  Few people were prepared for Disney going dope.  With their gritty lyrics, mashy beats, torn clothes and grand marquee haircuts etched with nicknames, neighborhoods, symbols and words of peace or protest, these young messengers looked ready to revolt.  Frankly, many people were afraid of these black and brown hipsters and their communal confabs in open spaces.  Many cities, in attempts to quell rising fears in the greater public, cracked down on street art; rapping and breakdancing were banned in parks and other public places.  Moreover, Rap artists and DJs were viewed as inferior musicians, and so-called national music critics gave the melodies thumbs down.  Regardless, the groove and the movement persevered and soon Pop music’s biggest heavyweight producers took the deep dive into Rap music, creating the massive ultra moneymaker we know today.

At its core, Hip-Hop is the voice of the collective soul of America’s urban Afro-Hispanic consciousness.  Great Hip-Hop has the power to compel the body, shift the mind, and elevate the senses, and in this 21st century it is the ultimate expression for orating the rich experiences of people of color.  Irrepressible Hip-Hop stands alone as transformative modern art and is now in league with all its counterparts of opera, ballet, literature and film.  Point in fact; Broadway’s mega-smash musical stage play “Hamilton” says it all.      The truth remains self-evident, Hip-Hop is too legit to quit, and here to stay.

In less than a decade, ethnic youth in America turned a niche cult into a national culture.  From a ripple of rebellion to a tidal wave of global notoriety, this is the humble genesis and worldwide influence of the Hip-Hop revolution.  It was a movement that concocted a brave new artistic convention, completely captured the entire world’s attention, delivered a multi-gazillion dollar platform to the entertainment industry, as well as directly influencing the spectrum of fashion, style and design.  It could happen again, a major youth revolution.  Probably it won’t look like Hip-Hop, but it doesn’t have to.  The magical thing about movements is they usually have a way of manifesting something previously unimagined, something unbelievable, something ingenious and a thing never before seen or conceived.  Age is irrelevant where good cause work is concerned.  What matters most in peace work is not age but agenda.

To the nation’s young change agents, stay on point and keep your message in the public forefront and you have a fighting chance to transform your lungpower into law power.  You already have the solid backing of at least 75% of the US populace.  We honor you and believe in you and your cause.  Keep marching, keep yelling, keep fighting and keep looking out for each other.  Never stop learning.  And most importantly, endeavor to be the leaders you would follow.  I cannot wait to see the surprises your current and continued efforts will bring.


“I’m 23 years old. I might just be my mother’s child, but in all reality, I’m everybody’s child.  Nobody raised me; I was raised in this society.”

Tupac Shakur


Art at the Intersection: W.E.B. DuBois and the Art of Intellect

Art at the Intersection: W.E.B. DuBois and the Art of Intellect

Art at the Intersection, a Mel Phillips piece

W.E.B. DuBois And the Art of Intellect

NoteAs a general 20th century bad ass in the battle of the color line, this African American activist, writer, orator and vocal agitator smartly marshaled history, science and academia into the fray of international dialogue on racial injustice.  Mr. DuBois was a lifelong freedom fighter who did his part to help our nation continue to unravel the blanket of racism spread throughout this country, and for me a hero of my history.  I wrote this tribute article several years ago, and I pulled it from the archives and dusted it off to present it again for Black History Month.  Heroes never die.

W.E.B. DuBois And the Battle of The Color Line

His life is the groundwork upon which contemporary black American culture is anchored.  Much of the cultural richness black and brown Americans hold today is due largely to the amazing achievements of this one man.  His vast legacy conjures varying images for his familiars.  Few other Americans played a more prominent and dominant role in the first half of the twentieth century to restore the humanization of the Afro-American consciousness than William Edward Burghardt DuBois.

For nearly seven decades W.E.B. DuBois was the passionate voice of freedom for all disenfranchised Americans.  His public agitation and impassioned activism forced the country to face its slavery-born demons of oppression, racism, intolerance and injustice.  As a writer, free-thinker and militant public speaker, W.E.B. DuBois did more than any other person during the first half of the last century to completely dismantle the foundations of scientific racism upon which many societies relied to support atrocious national behavior, like caste and genocide.  He conducted vast research studies that not only shed new scientific light on American race relations, but also helped dispel long-held social myths about black people.  His work went far to revoke racial stigmas and stereotypes unduly ascribed to blacks long before slavery and far after Emancipation.  DuBois promulgated the idea of human dignity and equality for all.  The overall extent of his lifework reveals him as the premier leader, historian and cultural steward of black American tradition and heritage in the last one hundred years.   Few others come close.

Born in 1868 to an elite, prominent black family in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, W.E.B. DuBois attended integrated schools where he exhibited an intellect beyond his peers.  Graduating from high school early, and at the very top of his class, was just one of many academic firsts that DuBois would realize in his incredible lifetime.  After first receiving a baccalaureate degree in 1888 from Fisk University, DuBois entered Harvard University in 1890 to study philosophy.  While there he was an eminent member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity for black Americans.  In 1891 DuBois completed his master’s degree and soon became the first black man ever to receive a Harvard Ph.D.

While working on his doctoral thesis at Harvard, W.E.B. DuBois first conceived the idea of subjecting the issues of modern race relations to the rigors of scientific scrutiny.  The result, “The Suppression of the Slave Trade in America”, is acclaimed as arguably the most influential social science dissertation ever produced in any American university.  It later was published as the first volume in the Harvard Historical Series; he was only twenty-four years old.  White supremacist political, social and caste culture ideology was at its pinnacle when young Mr. DuBois began his academic and public pursuits.  His charge to deliver the message for racial equality would not be easy.  Between 1897 and 1914 Dubois conducted copious studies of black society in America, publishing sixteen research papers.  His intellect was impressive for its range, insight, meticulous detail, precision and innovation.

Recognizing that science and academia alone were insufficient vectors for social change, W.E.B. DuBois initiated and led many international mass movements.  In 1900 he helped organize the First Annual Pan-African Congress in Paris, France.  In 1905 he helped found the Niagara Movement, an early prototype of the NAACP which he would go on to co-found in 1909.  He also helped establish the Council on African Affairs, helped organize the First Universal Races Congress in London, England, was a founder of the World Peace Council, and a protester against the cold war.

W.E.B. DuBois was one of the twentieth century’s great intellectuals.  He challenged conventional American wisdom and Western ideology, and saw race in a global perspective.  DuBois published books and essays in magazines throughout the world.  He edited and wrote for a substantial number of periodicals all around the country.  He also contributed weekly columns to national newspapers.  As editor of the NAACP’s “The Crisis”, DuBois used the journal as the vehicle to deliver his blunt messages for social change.  But beyond that he also used the journal to promote the works of many young, bold progressive black writers like Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and other brilliant new voices of the Harlem Renaissance.

In all DuBois produced over four thousand works of historical, cultural, literary, and humanitarian importance.  Alone, the sheer breadth of his social awareness and keen philosophy was enough to help push American social conscious toward more enlightened paths during the golden age of Reconstruction.  But even more the remarkable scope of his scholarship and literary work catalyzed the dramatic transformations in America’s race relations during the crucial infant stages of the Civil Rights Movement.  In 1963, after a lifetime as standard-bearer for human rights everywhere, W.E.B. DuBois renounced his American citizenship and moved to the African Republic of Ghana where he died a few months later.  He was 95.

Scholar.  Educator.  Scientist.  Historian.  Author.  Social activist.  Cultural pioneer.  Diplomat.  Freedom Fighter.  Revolutionary.  Philosopher.  Icon.  W.E.B. DuBois certainly was each of these things, all hallmarks of a great world leader.   Of course, he also had his flaws, philosophical inconsistencies and more than a few detractors.  Some often point to his inflammatory dialogue of the period and his radical oratory and repeated calls for black self-segregation, messages meant to rouse progressives, suffragettes, politicos and intellectuals against growing waves of intolerance, imperialism and inequality everywhere.  But in the end history speaks the truth loud and clear.   Imperfections aside, US history rightfully confirms W.E.B. DuBois as a true American patriot like no other.  But ask any grammar school kid in America who comes to mind when you say the words scholar, educator, freedom fighter, hero, historian, revolutionary, icon, and many American fourth-graders would instantly say Franklin or Revere or Washington or Lincoln.  Despite a life committed to academia while speaking truth to power, Mr. DuBois cannot earn the privilege of an easy perch on the tips of young minds and tongues.  Will it ever change?

W.E.B. DuBois fought for America all his life with all his mind and heart.  He waged a global war against inequality.  In the trenches of racial tyranny, he was a champion.  And in the ultimate civil rights conflict, at the cruel and indecent battle of the color line, the proud figure of William Edward Burghardt DuBois stands tall for the world to see.

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.





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

Showing up for Racial Justice, a Kerry Naughton piece

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! 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!