I recently moderated a panel discussion called Secret Society: An open discussion about child sexual abuse in the black community. I created this event because over the ten years I have been supporting survivors of child sexual abuse, I have noticed amongst black survivors, common challenges that they face. As a survivor of black ethnicity, I wanted to provide a space to have this difficult conversation.
I have created many events over the years as an event planner. However, this was my first time doing a virtual event. We are living in unprecedented times with the global pandemic Coronavirus. Many events, conferences and meetings that have traditionally been at a venue have transferred online. It was a new process for me. Once I got my head around using the online hosting platform, it was easy. Also, I had never moderated a panel discussion before. I watched a few David Dimbleby question time shows and some ‘how to’ videos on YouTube, planned the programme and voila! As they say, the rest is history!
Davina Louis, Tephaney Stewart and Sheree Pinheiro were the panellists. All brought to the table a range of different experiences, both personal and professional that greatly enriched the discussion. It also helped to identify some of the issues as to why child sexual abuse is hard to discuss. Even though we only had a couple of hours to delve into some of the issues surrounding it, we were able to identify some reasons; generational mindset, selfishness, stereotypes and perceptions, dysfunctional relationships, education and prevention to name a few.
The panellist also shared their thoughts on what they believed would make a difference in encouraging openness about this topic in the black community. We had input from our attendees who weren’t afraid to get involved. It was very encouraging. They participated in polls I put together to get their opinions and asked questions.
Tephaney and Davina shared with great poise their personal stories. It could not have been easy to summarise their experience in a few minutes (because of time) they did it so effortlessly. Sheree professionally shared powerful insights from her work as a Counsellor and child behaviour mentor and encouraged both the panellists and attendees during the discussion.
I think I can speak for all that were part of the event in that we all took something positive away from it. Some attendees were inspired to start something in their community. Other attendees wanted to look at building an empowerment collective to address areas that could help bring change. Survivors were encouraged to see other survivors be so open and honest about their journey.
In conclusion, we all realised this discussion was just a start. It will take time, determination, hard work and continued raising awareness before we see real changes.
Collective empowerment brings solutions. When people come together for a common cause it produces the energy and strength to tackle issues that seem impossible. Together we will make a change.