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Isabel Abbott

Consent Culture Radical, Educator and Consultant
Dissident, Artist and
Transgressive Story-teller.
Sanctuary in Birth, Sex and Death.

 

 

 

  • I am from a work lineage of Chicago community organizers, radicals, intersectional feminists and artists, sex workers and educators, queer activists and women’s advocates and religious leaders and body lovers and writers.
     
  • I am from twenty-one years of lived experience working as a birth doula and childbirth educator, a death midwife, and a sex educator. I have founded and lead a community organization to provide free abortion doulas to all women who want one and trained existing doulas in abortion doula care. I have spent countless hours immersed in the exploration and education of consent and sexuality and intimate justice. I have caught babies and held humans giving birth and humans dying and I have sat in hospital rooms and living rooms and bedrooms and courtrooms while tending to the most intimate and liminal and human parts of this existence. And this metamorphosed into

an agency of love and defiance: humanization in the creation of consent culture through education and honoring, writing and art, centering the margins, connecting one on one and in communities,
human to human.

  • I am from a trauma informed pedagogy, practice and praxis; an anti-oppression framework; feminist and queer theory; and a fervent love not just for ideas but also the fantastic mess where they are lived on in our real bodies and lives. I am from radical acceptance of our humanity that does not pathologize, criminalize, or deny the impact of living these lives.

  • I am from the art that comes from my hands and mouth and imagination and the words, all those words, written on scraps of paper and notebooks and typed into phones while on the subway or a bar stool and gathered and placed into essays and stories and books. I am from the multivocality of public and private grief, and the stories found to tell the other stories we can’t speak, and the need to say what really happened. 

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I am from and for a radical acceptance of our humanity
that does not pathologize, criminalize,
or deny the impact of living these embodied lives.


  • I am from the getaway car in the night to provide safe passage for those leaving violence, and from bedside where we sometimes say what we didn’t know we would say and the body does as it does beyond all we once tried to control.
     
  • I am from religious violence and experiences of orphaning, everything it took to leave and refuse to participate in my own oppression and I am from this very real honoring of religious discourse in my own life as a nontheist quaker and secular humanist and a love of religious inclusion that allows for us to be together, human and knowing and unknowing.
     
  • I am from a body. A body that lives with chronic pain and illness, has endured cancer two times and known the unthinkables before I could speak. I am from a wandering womb and years of my life dedicated to medical anthropology that brought me only back to my own flesh. I am from a body that allows me to touch and taste this world and know real connection with others and sublime pleasure. I am from a body. A queer body. This body. That I love, with all of me.
     
  • I am from this corporeal world and my love for it. Love for coffee consumption, and the late night sounds of a city, the trust of solitude, the hum of neon, the call of secular prayers, the insistence of contradictions, and heat. Love for rough housing with words and re-envisioning the old myths, the study of adaptation, giving voice to the unnamed. 
     
  • I am from all the humans who lives intersected with my own, and how we affect one another and change one another and come into spaces together with everything we have ever seen and known, having different experiences, and still startle ourselves in moments with how we find our own kind, how we are both stranger and finally found.

We are not all having the same experience and we are, all of us, complicated creatures.
And this is in part where I am from, what I bring into a room and space and encounter and engagement.
And I am for us. For you, and your work in this world and coming alongside to companion and lovingly agitate and offer sanctuary, and stay human, together.

In love and defiance,
Isabel

 


"I'd rather be whole than good." - Carl Jung

I am anti-authoritarian (I know; what a shock!), and as such I have no real interest in offering out my credentials as a badge by “expert” authority figures confirming upon me validation for having achieved success by a system that harms.

It is also true I didn’t just show up one day and decide to give something a try out of nowhere. It is a connected and interwoven body of work.

 

So I am all about giving appreciation and acknowledgement to my lineage and where I come from and how I got to here, including educational systems and hospital systems and the sex industry and birth industry,  and years of lived experience in grassroots organizing, AND, I also critique it and hold it accountable and insist on change. Much of my work now is in fact providing other professionals with the framework and skills to make such changes in their own business and organizations and healing professions and intimate lives. Because I believe we have what it takes.

 

My professional background and education includes a wide and rich expanse of learning and engagement including:

  • Academic graduate degrees from Goddard College in medical anthropology and women’s and human sexuality studies.
  • I received my midwifery and doula education and certification at Seattle Midwifery School, training with Penny Simpkin, and have seventeen years of experience as a birth doula and abortion doula and reproductive justice activist.
  • Certified birth doula with D.O.N.A. and childbirth educator with Birthing from Within.
  • While working as a birth doula and childbirth educator, I have also trained and mentored new doulas and educators and created community organizations to serve those who have been marginalized in the medical system, advocating for reproductive justice.
  • INELDA trained and certified death doula with over five years of experience as a death midwife.
  • Studied at Chicago Theological Seminary as a Presidential Merit Scholar, exploring intersections of embodiment and sexual ethics, interreligious engagement as a secular humanist, religious ritual and cartography of faith.
  • Served on the EcoMunity Cohort: an inter-religious cohort focused on sustainability and facilitating meaningful inter-religious dialogue.
  • Sexuality Professional Education Certification with a decade of experience in sexuality education and intimate justice work in both communities/group settings and working one on one with individuals.
  • Certified Domestic Violence Professional (through ILCDV) and Certified Rape Victims Advocate
  • Trained in varying models of conflict resolution/mediation and crisis intervention.
  • In addition, I have also studied in BodySoul Intensives with Marion Woodman, Authentic Movement with Tina Stromsted, Ph.D,, birth as a rite of passage with Pam England, and Intimacy in Undefended Loving with Jett Psaris, Ph.D. and Marlena Lyons, Ph.D.
  • Learning, both through experience in the fields and from those with years of knowledge and wisdom is deeply important to me, and endlessly pleasurable. So I keep learning, always.

"

There are, if you are lucky, a handful of people you will meet in your life who know how to truly and consciously share the space of this world with you. Isabel is one of those people and I am one of the lucky folk to have sat eye to eye with her. Here's the thing: Isabel seeks the questions that we somehow have forgotten to ask. She knows when to throw them at your fiercely (but safely) or blow them gently your way like a dandelion's seeds. And when you are ready, Isabel will sit cross-legged and witness your answers without judgement. She's no bullshit and all raw. She isn't afraid of emotion and conversation that veers in every direction. What's more is Isabel somehow manages to articulate this experience even through her writing. She shares stories as if they are her last breath. She dives deep to evoke memories; both painful and nostalgic. Isabel is the real deal, incarnated into a wild, tender raven of a woman.
-Leigh Steele