Cissy's note: The TedTalk below is given by one of my good friends, Alissa. When she first told me about the restorative justice work she was doing with Dr. Jill Levenson, speaking with convicted of sexual offending, where she shared about her experiences as a survivor of sexual assault, (aka, without her "professional shield," as she says), I was concerned. Was it safe, wise, and helpful? What would the impact be on her?
Part of me felt that it's not the place of survivors to help perpetrators or offenders of sexual violence. By the way, that's not even language Alissa uses. She has told me she uses "person-first" language first, and she tries not to characterize people by their crimes or behaviors - and instead, says, people who have been convicted or people who offend). Anyhow, in her talk below, she speaks directly about doing restorative justice work, and how it's impacted her as both a survivor and as a sex crimes researcher.
I tell Alissa that she stretches my brain and my heart, regularly. That continues. More about Alissa and her work can be found here.
I've also learned from some of Alissa's colleagues, like Dr. Levenson who, along with others published an article about the prevalence of ACEs in those who offend, entitled "You Learn What You Life: Prevalence of Childhood Adversity in the Lives of Juveniles Arrested for Sexual Offenses, for Advances in Social Work, in 2017 as well as about the rates of ACEs among male and female sex offenders, as well as trauma-informed care. co-authored with Gwenda Willis and David Prescott, published in SAGE journal.
Similarly, when it comes to my fuller understanding of domestic violence, and understanding ACEs, I'm grateful for the gentle education I have received from James Encinas, and the writing of Jane Stevens who wrote, about this topic in "If you integrate ACEs science into batterer intervention programs, recidivism plummet, and men (and women) heal,, in 2017.
For people like me, learning about ACEs may start an entirely personal journal that helps me understand my own childhood experiences and symptoms. It's also required me to consider the ACEs and other adversities present in the lives of those who cause ACEs for others.
My own basic notions about us and them, right and wrong, shame and blame have been challenged. Sometimes at least I'm open to exploring ways to make the world safer, happier, and healthier for everyone, excluding no one. But, I need to say that restorative justice approaches can, allow survivors to feel more seen and heard, and to provide more justice and accountability from those that offend than either our justice system or sometimes the world of popular opinion encourage, require, or allow. If I'd not been friends with Alissa, and if James had not repeatedly engaged me in some direct conversation, I'm pretty sure I would be irritated by a post just like this one! I share this perspective Alissa shares as a survivor, about restorative justice, because I know she values and honors survivor experiences in all she is and does, as does James in his work, and that must be made explicitly clear whenever we speak of the trauma, harms, sexual violations and violence that people cause and impose on others.