In this class, we discuss and practice addressing social conditions that are common when trauma occurs. By writing and speaking stories, women find their voices and counteract silence. We find ways to identify resources -- inside and out -- that enable and strengthen, and counteract helplessness. We practice discernment, negating confusion. We counteract isolation by hearing what we have in common with peers, teachers, and facilitators. We build friendships and mentoring relationships. All subjects are open for investigation. We manage conflict and talk about how we did it. We laugh loudly and cry often, and keep it moving.
The course makes use of small and large group discussion, mindfulness practices, painting and drawing, watching good movies, reading books about hardship and satisfaction, exercising and chanting, tolerating and then welcoming unusual ideas, and always, always, always protecting privacy and security. Topics are drawn from ones identified by people who experienced severe childhood abuse as those most important to them, and are informed by classical theory in sociology and social psychology.
The formal class meets two hours each week for 12 weeks. Those who graduate are invited to join an ongoing leadership development group during the same two hour time period. They become peer mentors, and facilitate the classes that follow. Many students remain with us for the length of their incarceration. Corrections staff often speak with us about the contributions of our students and facilitators to the well-being of other women throughout the facility.