Ms. Foundation Safety program grantee OAASISIn the summer of 2014, Ms. Foundation for Women grantee Oregon Abuse Advocates and Survivors in Service (OAASIS) premiered their original production, Telling: Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Step into the Light in Portland, Oregon.

In a society in which one out of four girls and one out of six boys have experienced child sexual abuse, it remains a secret rarely shared, held close by survivors who often feel alone in their experience.

Created to foster cultural change, Telling weaves together the true stories of seven adult survivors of child sexual abuse to create a tapestry of pain, secrecy, and ultimately, hope.

In the play, seven Pacific Northwest residents recount experiences that changed their lives dramatically. They name names, hold their abusers accountable, recount suffering and shame, and express anger, fear, and, in some cases, forgiveness. Their stories are a roadmap to hope for other survivors.

A counselor was present at all performances for anyone who felt distraught by the play’s content, which was powerful but not graphic. After every performance, audience members were invited to stay for a talkback facilitated by Klarissa Oh of OAASIS with the actors, director Jamie Rea, playwright Margie Boule, and artistic director Patty Price-Yates after every performance.

Telling is inspired by the Secret Survivor series created by past Ms. Foundation grantee Ping Chong + Company, which provided funding and support for the premiere. The play was also made possible by a grant from the Ms. Foundation.

Telling was originally conceptualized at the first ever Arts & Activism Institute held as part of an initiative to use the arts as a tool to end child sexual abuse (CSA). In June 2012, the Ms. Foundation hosted the first-ever CSA Arts & Activism Institute in partnership with Ping Chong + Company.  This pilot workshop explored innovative community-based performance and documentary theater practices pioneered by Ping Chong + Company. During the week-long workshop, organizations learned how to create their own community-based artistic projects aimed at raising awareness and activism around CSA. Following the workshop, participating organizations, including OAASIS, worked with Ping Chong + Company to develop their own original productions to amplify survivor voices in their communities.

OAASIS is the only survivor-based organization of its kind in the U.S. and has been the recipient of national awards, grants and publicity. Since its founding in 2009, OAASIS has worked to increase public awareness of the impact of child sexual abuse, to support and empower survivors and to advocate for public policies and laws to prevent these crimes. The Ms. Foundation is proud to support this groundbreaking organization and fund innovative endeavors to educate the public about sexual abuse prevention.