To my dearly beloved, bad ass, Rad Associates,

As we review all the happenings of 2019 (yeesh), one things we can all agree upon is it was a stellar year for EXJW, CSA Survivors, and Exxitor activism.

I was curious to see what had the most impact on our community, so earlier today I sent a post to several activist groups with the following message:

“To all my lovely activists and free thinkers:

To bring an inspirational end to 2019 and a bolster of spirit to 2020, what was your favorite form of activism from this year? Whether it was a protest, youtube video, book, speech, march, or public figure, what motivated you and gave you hope in 2019?

What do you hope to accomplish in 2020 with regards to activism? What would you like to see more of? What do you feel needs to be addressed? How do you think things could be done differently?”

Right of the bat I had several people comment “The Melbourne Protest” which happened November 22nd of  last year. Just to be clear, I CANNOT STOP saying enough good things about this protest. If you haven’t seen the footage of it yet I will link some footage to it here.

Another popular mention was Amber Scorah’s moving memoir as on her life as a Jehovah’s Witness entitled “Leaving the Witnesses: Exiting Religion and finding a life.” I found it to be a detailed, stunningly posed memoir of her experiences as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a missionary no less, serving in China while “the work” was under ban. I am eager to see what she publishes next.

As for myself there were a number of things including the above that propelled me forward and kept me active this year.

For one thing, The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses released (warning, jw.org link ahead) a series of articles in response to the mounting allegations of blatant disregard, silencing, and neglect of sexual abuse victims as well as protecting the data of accused sexual predators inside the Organization. Shortly after this they announced the building plans for their brand spanking new media wing, which they claim was mostly from the success of their “Caleb and Sophia” videos, their cartoon program specially designed for children.

You can see Cedars detailed coverage of that, as well as my response to that news by clicking the links below:

 Cedars      Me

As a sexual abuse survivor myself it was obviously a painful experience and I’m ever grateful to those like John Cedars, Mark O’Donnell, and others for taking on the challenge of dissecting these and other issues such as the monthly JW Broadcasts, and the newly released Shepherding of the Flock manual for Jehovah’s Witness Elders, something that is difficult and remedial work and often times troubling but is absolutely necessary for getting to the heart of Watchtower’s policies such as their two witness rule, their shunning policies, blood transfusion bans, amongst other things.

I especially found the work of Mark O’Donnell compelling as he traveled across the nation following several cases of child sexual abuse against Watchtower,  including the recent 35M Montana case and the recent Arkansas case. His reporting was not only detailed, but considerate of the survivors involved and the protection of their privacy and dignity during a time of grief.

One bad ass thing collaboration I hope will continue into 2020 was the joining together of several Exxitor communities to support Sam Young’s powerful Protect Every Child march in Utah. I also loved seeing the Sisters of the Valley extend amazing support to my dear friend and fellow survivor Star Pahl as she continues to use her voice and empower others, and has become involved with local law enforcement and legislators with regards to child sexual abuse and sex trafficking in Humboldt County, CA.

She along with many other survivors lobbied in California on Bill SB360, seeking to remove clergy penitent privilege from mandated reporting, so that all including priests must report child abuse. In or out of the confession box. The bill passed the house but is now temporarily stalled. I look forward to working with her on that this next year, as we still have a window to take action.

Another project Star participated in was Silent No More, where her and 25 other survivors came together to share their stories with Hearst Media detailing their abuse, and the painful aftermath they had to endure in the society.  Many of them were my dear friends, and I know it was exhausting work for them. Their bravery was incredibly moving.

That is just touching the surface of the monumental events this year. So many of those amazing triumphs were made by people just like you. Indeed it seems all the best activists come from our neighborhoods, our towns, our streets, our cities, our churches. We all form an alliance in our struggle to support each other and demand support. 

Grassroots is now beginning to make a foothold in National and International politics, and so too the opportunities for change are ripening for all of us in the interim. The world is finally listening, and so many of us have a lot to say.

I am very interested to see how activism will evolve itself in 2020. There is a lot of new blood fueling the fire and pushing things forward, and finally after so many years of painful silence and hopelessness the fruits of our labor may produce monumental change.

Use Our Voice is proud to support all these and other pro-active activists in their varying projects and activities, who out of pain and tragedy have channeled their energy into work that is world changing, and will only continue to better our
communities and enforce the safety and human rights of children firstly, but everyone who could be potentially injured as some of us were.

This is not easy work, but it is necessary work, and will truly save countless lives in the process. As we gear up for another Memorial on Memorial it is important to remember the weight our struggle carries, and as we march forward into a brighter future, may we never forget where we came from, and the ones who we lost to it.

Use Our Voice will be releasing current projects and spotlights occurring this year in the next few days. Get out your calendars, start your engines.

I have the feeling 2020 is going to be a hell of a ride.

Happy New Year.

 – Chessa