The Contributors

Editor’s Bio

Lisa Factora-Borchers is a Filipina American writer, activist, and editor of the Dear Sister anthology. Lisa worked extensively with survivors of sexual violence in non profits, coalitions, and university settings before applying her work to the literary world.

Lisa earned a BA in English from Xavier University (Cincinnati, OH), a joint masters in Counseling Psychology and Pastoral Ministry from Boston College, and her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University.  She has worked in editorial capacities with make/shift magazine, Literary Mama, and Apogee Journal and now works as the editorial director at Bitch Media.  Her work is widely published and resides with her life partner and their two children in the midwest.

Contributors’ Bio

Aaminah Shakur is a First Nations/Indigenous, queer, crip, poet and artist. They are also a mother, a healer, and a birth/reproductive justice worker. Shakur’s mixed-media arts combine words, images, paint, fiber arts and beadwork to explore love, gender, motherhood, spirituality, sexuality, history, borders, culture, privilege and oppression, abuse, freedom and revolution – and how all of these are interconnected.

adrienne maree brown is a writer, artist, sci-fi scholar, facilitator, philosopher and doula interested in healing. she believes we must transform ourselves to transform the world. she wrote her contribution for this collection in detroit.

Aishah Shahidah Simmons is a Black feminist lesbian filmmaker, writer, international lecturer, and activist. An incest and rape survivor, she is the producer, writer and director of the internationally acclaimed, award-winning film NO! The Rape Documentary.  She presently teaches in the Women’s Studies and LGBT Studies programs at Temple University, and was a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. In spring 2014, she will be the O’Brien Distinguished Visiting Professor at Scripps College. A member of the Editorial Collective of the online magazine The Feminist Wire, Aishah’s cultural work and activism have been documented extensively in a wide range of media outlets including The RootCrisisForbesLeft of BlackIn These TimesMs.AlternetColorLinesThe Philadelphia Weekly, National Public Radio (NPR), Pacifica Radio Network, and Black Entertainment Television (BET).

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a queer black troublemaker, a black feminist love evangelist, a prayer poet priestess and has a PhD in English, African and African-American Studies and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University.  Her scholarly work is published in Obsidian, Symbiosis, Macomere, The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Literature, SIGNS, Feminist Collections, The Black Imagination, Mothering and Hip Hop Culture, The Business of Black Power and moreAlexis is the author of an acclaimed collection of poems 101 Things That Are Not True About the Most Famous Black Women Alive and poetic work published in KweliVinyl, Backbone, Everyday Genius, Turning Wheel, UNFold, Makeshift and more.  Alexis is the founder of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind School and Brilliance Remastered and is co-founder of the Mobile Homecoming project.  Alexis was named one of UTNE Reader’s 50 Visionaries Transforming the World in 2009, awarded a Too Sexy for 501-C3 trophy in 2011, was is one of the Advocate’s top 40 under 40 features in 2012 and is one of GO Magazine’s 100 Women We Love in 2013.

Allison McCarthy is a freelance writer with a focus on intersectional feminism and social justice.  Her work has been featured in print and online publications such as The Guardian (U.K.), AlterNetMs. (blog), BitchRole/RebootGirlisticGlobal CommentThe Feminist WireColorsNW, and The Baltimore Review, as well as in the anthologies Robot Hearts: Twisted and True Tales of Seeking Love in the Digital Age (Pinchback Press) and 21st Century Sex: Contemporary Issues in Pleasure and Safety (Routledge). Allison’s professional honors include being selected as a 2011 Editor’s Favorite by GOOD magazine for her feature essay submission in the “Dealbreaker” series, as well as receiving an award from the 2007 Maryland Writers Association (MWA) Short Works Fiction Contest.  She completed undergraduate work as a double-major in English (Honors) and Women’s Studies at Goucher College in 2008 and graduated from the Master of Professional Writing program at Chatham University in 2013.  She currently resides in the greater Washington, DC area.

Amita Y. Swadhin is an educator, activist and storyteller with NJ/NYC roots, now living and loving in Los Angeles. Her experiences as a queer woman of color, daughter of South Asian immigrants, and survivor of years of incestuous childhood rape and abuse inform her commitment to fighting institutional and interpersonal violence.  Her favorite vehicles include popular education, oral history and poetry/essay writing, though she dabbles in journalism as a co-host of the weekly radio show “Flip the Script” on KPFK-LA.  Amita is the co-creator and a former cast member of Secret Survivors, a theater and documentary project she conceived of for the off-off-Broadway group Ping Chong & Co., featuring survivors of child sexual abuse telling their stories.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and an M.P.A. from NYU, where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. Her work has been featured in print on The Feminist Wire, The Huffington Post, and in the Mujeres de Maiz zine, make/shift magazine, and Queering Sexual Violence (Magnus Books, 2014).

Amy Ernst grew up outside of Washington, D.C. She received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from The Colorado College and is currently finishing her master’s degree in International Relations at The University of Chicago.  She worked for almost two years in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo with both survivors and perpetrators of rape alongside Maman Marie Nzoli and her team.  She volunteers as a Rape Crisis Counselor and Medical Advocate in Chicago, IL and is passionate about understanding the mechanisms behind sexual violence and working to prevent it in all forms.

Ana Heaton is a visual artist and writer living and working in the midwest. Also, a disabled US Naval veteran, Ana is a full time student and single mother of two amazing girls.

Andrea Harris teaches Women’s Studies and English and was chosen as the “Instructor of the Year” at her university in 2011. She regularly teaches literature and media courses focusing on violence against women. She also co-founded a campus network of women who have survived violence. In appreciation for her service, Andrea received the 2010 Heart of Gold Award from the Lambda Chapter of the Eta Phi Beta Sorority. Andrea’s published works include memoir pieces on her experiences as a survivor of rape and the joyful challenges of being a single mother and the parent of a child with autism.

Angel Propps is a multi-published author of erotica, horror and poetry. When not out on road trip adventures with her butch partner and fellow author OB Hampton she splits her time between their homes in North Carolina and Florida. Lately she has taken up gardening and likens her garden to her life, sometimes things grow and sometimes they wither on the vine but the true beauty of it all lies in the soil from which it all grows.

anna saini has lived many lives as a political scientist, radical activist, and multi-media artist. She completed a B.A. and M.A. in Political Science at the University of Toronto and McMaster University respectively. She currently works as a community organizer on drug policy reform. Her writing appears in Bitch Magazine, make/shift Magazine, various anthologies and journals and her self-published poetry anthology Colored Girls. An interview with anna entitled “Sex Work and Feminism” appears in Feminism for Real! Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism.

Anne Averyt is a survivor who has new life and meaning through writing and personal relationships.  She is a poet, essayist and commentator for Vermont Public Radio. Her poetry has appeared in 580 Split, Counterpoint, The Aurorean and Mountain Troubadour.  She is 2nd Place recipient of the Louise Wiehl Prize in poetry.  She is currently experimenting with right brain art and working with charcoal drawing.

annu saini is an ex-inmate, psychiatric and family violence survivor, and a poor and working class womyn of colour. She has been published in make/shift magazine, the poetry anthology Coloured Girls, Asylum magazine and the book Q? Y Art?  ( She is a performance poet and conceptual artist. She is a lead producer, programmer and cohost of the show frequency feminisms ( She lives happily in a community of people she loves.

An Ally


Birdy is a 35 year old survivor. This writing has played a big part in her continued healing.

Brooke Benoit is a drop-out from the San Francisco Art Institute with a degree in Rhetoric from the University of Alaska in Anchorage. Currently she lives in a ram-packed earth house (adobe) in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco where she unschools her six children and edits for the international SISTERS Magazine (the magazine for fabulous Muslim women). Four of Brooke’s babies have been born in the privacy and comfort of her own home. In 2012 when she was unable to find a homebirth-attending midwife in Casablanca, she took the unassisted leap and her sixth child was born at home with only the baby’s father attending to the birth. It was truly awesome.

brownfemipower is best described as a malinchista–a traitor to men, borders and nation. She is a cook and a teacher and loves the smell of burning wood. She is a citizen of The Rust Belt.

Denise Santomauro served for five years as coordinator and facilitator of a Chicago based child sexual abuse prevention program that used theater to educate children on sexual assault and abuse. Through this program, Denise has worked with hundreds of child survivors and their loved ones. While serving as coordinator, the program received numerous awards for partnering with outside agencies to combine sexual violence counseling and education services with theater performances. As a writer, Denise is currently completing edits on a young adult novel.

Desire Vincent is somewhere saying, “Today is someday.”

Dorla Harris, born of Jamaican decent, grew up in Southern Ontario, adopted into to a white family at the age 8 months.  She is thankful for the diligence of her husband, who through searching was able to reunite her with her biological mother, and five half siblings.  Her life is tremendously enriched by this connection to her roots.  Dorla lives with her husband and two children in Vancouver BC.  She works in the non-profit sector and continues to work towards a writing career.

Harriet Jay is a mid-twenties white girl living in the Midwest. She works mostly as a paper-pusher in the government, but is occasionally exposed to spicier things.

Indira Allegra Indira Allegra is a poet and interdisciplinary artist exploring forms of queer intimacy, text, trauma and racial identity through performance, video works and handwoven textiles. A 2012 Lambda Literary Fellow and VONA Voices Alum, she has contributed work to 25 for 25: An Anthology of Works by 25 Outstanding Contemporary LGTB Authors, Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art and Thought, Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two Spirit Literature, Konch Magazine and make/shift Magazine among others. Indira has read and performed at the National Queer Arts Festival, Litquake, the SFJAZZ Poetry Festival and the Native American Poets Series at the de Young Museum. She performs regularly with Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance and Mangos with Chili, and was a member of the artistic core of Sins Invalid in 2008. In 2012, Indira served as curator and creative director for Artists Against Rape, a biannual event hosted by San Francisco Women Against Rape. Her experimental videopoems Blue Covers and Weep Willow: The Blues for Lady Day have screened at film festivals internationally. In the Bay Area, Indira’s textile works have shown at the Alter Space and College Avenue Galleries. She is completing her first collection of poems entitled Indigo Season.

Isabella Gitana-Woolf is a fierce Chicana Italian queer goddess, warrior, Mama, poet, artist, massage therapist, and incest survivor.  She offers trauma aware massage and has developed a style of body centered trauma work for survivors of sexual and relationship violence.  When she isn’t working, she volunteers at the local Rape Crisis Center as a Rape Crisis Counselor Advocate.  She is proud to tour with the Survivor Theatre Project in the award winning performance art piece she co-wrote and performs in titled, “The World We Live In Is Not The World We Live In”.  It contains her original poetry and prose about how incest has affected her life.  She can be reached at

Joan Chen is currently eating a pineapple bun in bed, feeling sweetened, sickened, full and torn.  She has to stop (a rarity for her to stop in the middle of eating) to let these feelings roll through… and bloom into words…This is the first time her art has been published. This is the first time she has had to write a biographical blurb.  Since she drew this Untitled image many years ago, she has learned so much about it – she could never have known.  She would like to dedicate this experience to all those who have shared difficult stories with her, with grace, compassion and trust.  Without them, she could never have known.  To see more of her work, please see:  Yep, there are two j’s in that.

Judith Stevenson is an incest survivor.  She is currently an Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Human Development and Director of the Peace and Social Justice Program at California State University, Long Beach.  Her research interests include grassroots political activism, human rights, feminist theory, globalization, and critical pedagogy in South Africa.  Currently, she is conducting research in a rural community, exploring how communities protest human rights violations by the mining industry.  In addition, she heads an international educational project called GlobaLinks2Peace, which partners schools in southern California with schools in South Africa via the internet.

Juliet November is a white working class femmetastic ladypants with a soft spot for prison/policing abolition, transformative justice, relationship building and sex work organizing. Her work has been published in The Revolution Starts At Home, The Walrus Magazine and she blogs at She currently lives on the occupied lands known as Toronto, Canada.

Kathleen Ahern is an educator and an activist in the queer and disability communities.

kyisha williams is a toronto born Black, queer, high femme, ma’star who is sex and sex work positive. She is an artist, primarily using written word, video, dance and collage. She has been organizing for over 10 years both locally and globally around violence and intersecting oppressions as they relate to colonialism, poverty, incarceration, gender, status, ability, sexuality and (sexual/mental) health.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer disabled Sri Lankan cis femme writer, performer, organizer and badass visionary healer. The author of the Lambda Award winning Love Cake and co-editor of The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities her work has appeared in the anthologies Undoing Border Imperialism, Stay Solid, Persistence,Yes Means Yes, Visible: A Femmethology, Homelands, Colonize This, We Don’t Need Another Wave, Bitchfest, Without a Net, Dangerous Families, Brazen Femme, Femme and A Girl’s Guide to Taking Over The World.

With Cherry Galette, she co-founded Mangos With Chili, North America’s performance incubator for queer and trans people of color performance artists, and is a lead artist with Sins Invalid. In 2010 she was named one of the Feminist Press’ “40 Feminists Under 40 Shaping the Future” and she is one of the the 2013 Autostraddle Alternative Hot 105. She has taught, performed and lectured across North America, Sri Lanka and Australia and co-founded Toronto’s Asian Arts Freedom School. Her first memoir, Dirty River, will be published by Deviant Type Press in winter 2013. She is also completing her third book of poetry, Bodymap, and a writer’s manual, Writing the World, to be published by AK Press in 2014. Her website is

Marianne Kirby writes, edits, and polishes her nails in the land of year-round produce, Florida. She discusses fat, embodiment, class war, and nail polish at Marianne is an unapologetic nerd with passion for Star Trek and the architecture of federal buildings. She is the coauthor of Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere: Quit Dieting And Declare A Truce With Your Body.

Maroula Blades Maroula Blades is an Afro-British writer living in Berlin. The winner of the Erbacce Prize 2012, her first poetry collection “Blood Orange” is published by Erbacce-press. In April 2013, Maroula was awarded 2nd Prize in the Leaf Art and Poetry Contest. Works have been published in the Volume Magazine, Words with Jam, The Latin Heritage Foundation, Caribbean Writer, Peepal Tree and Kaleidoscope Magazine and many other journals. Her poetry/music programme has been presented on several stages in Berlin. Maroula’s poetry singles “Meta Stasis” and “Ms Betty” released by Havavision Records 2012 are available from I-Tunes and Amazon. Her new EP “Word Pulse” (Havavision Records, 2013) is also available as a download.  More information at:

Mary Zelinka has been involved in the movement to end violence against women since 1980.  She works at the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence in Corvallis, Oregon, where every day she witnesses the remarkable strength and resiliency of survivors.  Her writing has appeared in CALYX, The Sun, and The Journey of Healing: Wisdom From Survivors of Sexual Abuse.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore ( is most recently the author of a memoir, The End of San Francisco (City Lights 2013). She’s also the author of two novels, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly (City Lights 2008) and Pulling Taffy (Suspect Thoughts 2003), and the editor of five nonfiction anthologies, including Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform (AK Press 2012), Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity (Seal 2007), and Dangerous Families: Queer Writing on Surviving (Haworth 2004).

Melissa Dey Hasbrook is a writer, artist, and community organizer based in Michigan. She integrates creative and healing arts, often partnering word art — especially poetry — with performance or visual art. Drawing upon life stories including experience as a survivor, Melissa engages The Personal as a portal for building community, artistic inspiration, and spiritual growth. Most recently, her projects include an artist’s book “The Vision Journal”, a series with workshops and exhibit “Words & Afterwords”, and a visually-designed poetry collection “Circle…Home.”  Melissa’s web site,, details these projects and her blog.  She may be reached for invitation at

Melissa Gordon is a poet, former teacher, lovebug, soul sister, music lover, survivor and firestarter living and working in southern Connecticut. She is currently working on her first chapbook of poetry and is an editor for rising young poets. She believes in the power of the arts to change everything. Her poems have been featured in national literary magazines. Her heart and the ring finger on her left hand belong to T.

Mia Mingus is a writer, community educator and organizer working for disability justice and transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse. She identifies as a queer physically disabled Korean woman transracial and transnational adoptee, born in Korea, raised in the Caribbean, nurtured in the South and now living on the west coast.  She works for community, interdependency and home for all of us, not just some of us, and longs for a world where disabled children can live free of violence, with dignity and love.  As her work for liberation evolves and deepens, her roots remain firmly planted in ending sexual violence.  Her work on disability justice has been cited and used in numerous texts and events around the world.  Her writings can be found at

Michelle Ovalle is a New Jersey poet who holds an MFA from Drew University.  Her poems and book reviews have appeared in or are forthcoming in several journals, including The Stillwater Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Adanna Literary Journal, and OVS Magazine.  She currently teaches grammar and literature at a local community college.  When not writing or teaching, Michelle enjoys photography, mosh pits, and red dresses.

Premala Matthen is a freelance writer and activist living in Vancouver, British Columbia

Rebecca Wyllie de Echeverria crafts stories that explore peoples’ behavior and link them to the larger system of privilege and oppression. She spends her free time cooking, sailing small boats and riding her non-fixey bicycle.

Renée Martin is the executive editor of the blog Womanist Musings and co-creator of the blog Fangs for the Fantasy.  Her writing has appeared in The Guardian (U.K.), Global Comment, GOOD, theGrio, Loop21 and Clutch, as well as Ms. magazine’s blog.  Her work has been discussed on CNN, CBC/Radio-Canada and NPR.  Her round-table contributions to “Mothers of Intention: Five Bloggers on Race and Erasure in the Mommy Blogosphere” were published both online and in the fall 2011 issue of Bitch.  Her essay “Confronting Hyper-Sexuality in the Black Community” was published in Jessica Yee’s anthology Sex Ed and Youth: Colonization, Sexuality, and Communities of Colour (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives).   In between chasing her lovely two children around and feeding the dog, much of her work is dedicated to discussing everyday issues from a social justice perspective.

River Willow Fagan is a genderqueer writer who grew up in Southeastern Michigan.  Their short stories have appeared in Fantasy Magazine and The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2011.  Two of their essays are in the anthologies Queering Sexual Violence and Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification and the Desire to Conform.

Sara Durnan grew up in upstate New York. The second youngest of eight children, she followed in her siblings’ footsteps as she traveled the world.  She has lived and studied in Costa Rica, Italy, Peru and Spain. She holds degrees in both Business and Spanish Language and Literature. She currently resides in Hungary where she teaches elementary school. She feels forever indebted to her family, friends and Barbara from Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk County (VIBS). Without the gift of their unending love and support, she would not be where she is today.

Sarah Cash is a sensualist who refuses to wear a watch as she believes in living in the moment. She admires those with decisive walks because she’s a meandering sort. She has experienced failure before success. She defines success for herself. She believes in: slow dancing in the kitchen to the Drifters, writing inscriptions in books given as gifts, good conversation, comfortable silences, nights like jazz, the continued applicability of the Civil Rights Movement, and peanut butter pie. She may be found facing the world with the perfect tube of lipstick and a lot of sass.

Shala Bennett is a soul on a quest to understand the reasons why. With her goal in mind she’s explored art, history, technology.  And life has never stopped offering opportunities for her to learn more and more.

Shanna Katz, M.Ed ACS, is a sexuality educator, board certified sexologist and author based in the Southwest. As a queer femme with disabilities, she works to provide accessible sex education and support to the LGBTQ, PWD, poly and other frequently ignored, marginalized and/or fetishized communities. She lives with her partner and their three (rescued) kitties, and enjoys British mystery novels, dialogue around social justice and cupcakes. Learn more at and @shanna_katz

Sofia Rose Smith is a femme of color, magic-maker, freedom dreamer and poet. She is from Los Angeles, the land her family migrated to 100 years ago. Sofia believes in green leaves and sunlight, wind through our hair, rustling trees, gateways, circles, arches, mountains, friends, love, the healing power of words, and our tongues. She is grateful to be part of this sacred offering of poems, tears, and wisdom, like a bowl of water that we drink from together, in ceremony.

When not scribbling pieces of her soul on paper, Sumayyah Talibah is a wife, mother, and avid reader. Her work can be found in Liberated Muse Volume 1: How I Freed My Soul, Liberated Muse Volume 2: Betrayal Wears a Pretty Face, several zines, and by visiting

Sydette Harry is a writer singer blogger problem NYC born by way of the Guyana. Writing as Blackamazon, she has started boycotts but she is most proud of making her fellow beautiful beautiful girls of every color feel not alone and thankful they have done the same for her by SPEAK!ing.  She continues to blog at Having Read The Fine Print and Blackamazon Is Too Much ( theorize heavily, write the first play of Salt&Rice Productions, apply for a PHD and try to fall in love a little bit more every day.

Viannah E. Duncan is an author, poet, editor, human. Find out more at

Zöe Flowers is a Reiki Master, actress, poet and playwright. Her poetry can be found in anthologies: Stand Our Ground Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander, The Women Writers in Bloom Anthology and several online journals. Zoë is also the author of Dirty Laundry: Women of Color Speak up about Dating & Domestic Violence and a meditation CD entitled, Balance-An Evening Meditation for Activists, Advocates and Helping Professionals. Zoë is also the founder of Highest Good Consulting (HGC). HGC provides a wide range of trainings and project management in the fields of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault. HGC also coordinates wellness retreats for advocates and community members. Zoë frequently speaks nationally and has spoken internationally on the issue of domestic violence, has appeared on National Public Radio and makes her living as a healer and teaching artist.

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