Hey team, we have a big announcement: Our Stories Untold and Into Account have officially joined forces.

Into Account, which specializes in holding institutions, perpetrators, and enablers accountable for sexualized violence, harm, and cover-ups, is now the umbrella under which Our Stories Untold will continue to do what we do: provide space and support for survivors who want to speak.

This move has been a long time coming, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Our Stories Untold started as a personal blog created by its founder, Rachel Halder. Shortly after the blog went live, Barbra Graber and I joined Rachel to help out. It was a truly grassroots, voluntary team effort, and that’s exactly what it needed to be at the time. We didn’t have an organizational structure because we weren’t an organization. We were a few people who cared about sexual violence in the church, and we were using our free time to do something about it.

As more and more sexual violence survivors found Our Stories Untold and decided to tell their stories, news spread. We understood right away that the process of publishing survivor accounts isn’t as simple as receiving submissions and pressing “publish.” We became witnesses to our authors’ deepest pains and greatest strengths, and as witnesses we became responsible for supporting OSU authors through the burdens that accompany the decision to speak. In short, we became advocates.

As the stories OSU authors shared sparked controversy and backlash, our advocacy responsibilities ballooned. We became public speakers, cultural analysts, theologians, and trauma caregivers. In truth, we already were these things individually. What changed was that we took on these identities as public roles and therefore became responsible for performing them consistently, ethically, and in an environment of intense scrutiny.

What was initially a grassroots project that we did in our free time and according to our hearts’ desires now asked something much more of us. We needed a legal structure that would protect the work we were doing from the attacks of perpetrators and enablers who threatened lawsuits unless we backed down. We needed a bank account so that people who wanted to support our work by helping us pay lawyer fees, web hosting dues, and travel expenses could do so without having to awkwardly write a personal check to one of us. And we needed clarity about the expectations and boundaries of our roles so that we could continue to do this work sustainably and without burning out.

As both Rachel and Barbra moved on from Our Stories Untold, these needs have persisted and become even more pressing, since there are now fewer people to care for this network as it continues to grow. Because, let’s be real, no one can or should do this work alone, I am downright relieved that as Rachel and Barbra transitioned away from OSU I was simultaneously developing strong working relationships with the founders of Into Account, Stephanie Krehbiel and Jay Yoder. Earlier this year, I joined Into Account as its Director of Theological Integrity, and I have thus been privy to the process by which Into Account has adopted an organizational, legal, and financial structure that – I’ll spare you the boring details – is exactly what we need to keep doing this work for the long haul. Joining OSU with Into Account lets Our Stories Untold share the benefits of that structure and saves us from needing to spend our limited resources to duplicate it.

OSU is also gaining two absolutely fantastic partners. Stephanie and Jay are fierce and compassionate survivors, advocates, and experts, each in their own right. They have been supporting the work of Our Stories Untold for years, and I am thrilled that they can now do so as official collaborators.

Here’s the skinny on what this partnership means for Into Account, for Our Stories Untold, and for you:

  • Our Stories Untold is now, in official terms, a project of Into Account.
  • Into Account is fiscally sponsored by the Transform Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on social justice.
  • That means, for example, that if you want to financially support the work of Our Stories Untold, you can do that by donating to Into Account through their fundraising page at the Transform Network website. Your donation will be tax-deductible.
  • Our Stories Untold is going to keep doing exactly the same work you expect from us. Our purpose is to offer sexual violence survivors a platform for telling their stories and to offer support to survivors who want to speak. Ourstoriesuntold.com will continue to be that platform, and I will continue to direct our processes of offering support.
  • Because Into Account and OSU have two separate websites with two separate blogs and two separate lists of subscribers, we will be doing some consolidating and reorganizing in the coming months. Our subscriber lists will be merged, which means that if you are now an OSU subscriber, you will soon be getting email notifications from Into Account as well (and vice versa). You can, of course, opt out. But, before you do, you should also know that most of the articles OSU would normally publish that are more commentary and analysis than they are survivors’ stories are going to now be published through the Into Account blog.
  • In other words, OSU is refocusing on being a space cultivated specifically for sexual violence survivors’ accounts of their own experiences of violence, of trauma, of coping strategies, of transformation, of survival, and of any other part of life as a sexual violence survivor that a person wants to write about.
  • The Into Account blog, then, will be where we publish pieces that focus on theology, cultural analysis, education, and advocacy.
  • Stephanie and Jay and the members of the Into Account advisory committee each have a voice in the direction of OSU and are the people I will work and partner and consult with on OSU matters going forward.

This transition means that OSU has the support and structure and accountability it needs to continue healthfully for the foreseeable future, which is just downright wonderful. If you have questions, send me an email, and I’ll do my best to answer them.