Today we did an exercise where we get our clients in prison to list all the crime they can think of —that’s easy, they can list many.
What is NOT easy is when we ask them to then place a checkmark on a piece of paper of every one of these crimes has been done to them or their families, and the number of times it has happened.
This is more difficult. It is not often that someone stops to ask or acknowledge that those behind bars have been victims too. This exercise is anonymous and they don’t even have to list the crime, it is for them only to know. Many hold back.
Today one young man had ninety checkmarks on his paper. That is ninety times he, or his family, has been a victim.
In a past restorative justice class in prison we have had nine young men with one hundred and thirty five checks altogether —One hundred and thirty five accounts of victimisation that is not dealt with or remains largely unacknowledged in their lives.
(As this programme has developed over the years, inmates have become more aware about traumatic events that have happened to them. Often trauma is normalized in violent communities and so would not be seen as trauma. In a more recent class with 14 adult men, close to 6000 checks were accounted for).
The ripple effects of CONTINUOUS TRAUMA in our communties…
If, “Hurting people, hurt people”, then these statistics should be screaming out loud and clear and yet daily we see shocking headlines highlighting activities of the burglar, robber, murderer, thief…
In our programme we want to begin to move towards healing, towards acknowledging that their victimisation can be acknowledged too.
Today…Genuine empathy was evoked in one young man towards another. He recognised that the 90 checks was a lot to go through in life.