Heal v. from Proto-Germanic hailjan, literally 'to make whole'
At The Consent Collective our ways of thinking and working are informed by quantum physics, which is maybe a post for another day, but it means that we are careful to notice where our attention is placed and what questions we ask. As observers, where we place our attention has power. Often the questions we ask are more powerful than the answers we give.
As a long time activist in the sexual violence terrain up until recently all of my activism attention that centred on justice was focused on how to achieve justice through justice systems - whether those were the systems of the state, an institution, or an employer. The questions I asked were all focused on how to improve those systems. I have well-exercised muscles when it comes to observing, questioning and critiquing those systems.
But if my sole-focus is on those systems, that means my attention is reinforcing their power. What are the questions I'm not asking? What are the muscles I haven't exercised?
This seems like a more urgent question to ask when you consider the state of our justice systems. We live in societies where if you experience sexual violence you have a very high chance (read 99%+) of not experiencing any form of justice through existing systems. We might still have faith that these systems can be improved and so continue to give them our attention, energy and talent. But we could also consider how our energy for activism might serve our communities if we place at least some of our attention outside of those systems.
As most people who experience sexual violence or relationship abuse have to learn how to live with injustice, how are they doing that? As injustice and suffering has been such a large part of our human history what wisdom is available for this path that has been walked by so many others? How can we find ways of honouring, celebrating and facilitating the healing process? What power is already in our hands, in our communities, or in our existing relationships? If we broaden our lens beyond the direct recipients of abuse, how are their family members, partners, friends and colleagues healing from the injustice they experience when a person they care about is harmed? How might those of us who choose to work or volunteer in the sexual violence terrain heal from the injustices we bear witness to on a daily basis? These are the questions that are on my mind. This is where I choose to place my attention. These are the muscles I want to grow.
And this journey on the road is part of that.
We are using a gorgeous process called 'circle', a way of coming together in groups to listen, share, and gather wisdom on how people are healing from injustice. Our practice in circle is informed by the wonderful The Circle Way and Healing Circles Global. We have been holding online circles throughout lockdown and will continue to do so as we've found that online circles make this process available to a wide range of people. However, we're also taking this question on the road. As we tour around we'll be connecting with local organisations who support people living with the impact of sexual or relationship abuse so that we can bring the question 'How do people heal from injustice?' to their local area.
I'm excited for the journey and feel inspired by how much I have learned from the circles we've held already. My muscles are being stretched. I'm learning about rage, silence, courage, trust, strength, and the mess of the healing process. I'm bearing witness to what's possible when a group of strangers gather together and give each other their attention.
I'm learning that the wisdom is there.
If we look for it.
If you'd like to join us for an online circle about healing from injustice go to our events page where we post details of any upcoming events.
If you work for a support organisation and you spot that we're coming to your local area get in touch with us if you'd like to discuss bringing this work to your local area.