Storytelling & Motivational Speaking
In my professional role as a restorative justice practitioner, I contend with victims' stories - including my own survival from a near-fatal attack that left me with a traumatic brain injury, after a coma and intensive period of rehabilitation.
My journey towards healing and self-love has empowered me to assert what I needed and was denied to me, what I deserved and was invisible or out of reach; and the ways in which policing and the criminal-legal system failed me. I look for, imagine, and work with others to actualize structures of accountability that transcend prisons and punishment.
My story includes compassion for my aggressor, which is not always possible or realistic. It has been a spiritually expansive and politically meaningful task to envision what should have happened for me and others in positions of vulnerability, and where/how we can collectively push our movements to be responsible for ending cycles of hurt, trauma, and abuse.
My presentations feature a vision for alternatives to the criminalization of wrongdoing, including my personal encounters with big questions like reconciliation and victim-offender dialogue. I have spoken in facilities across the state of California (federal, state, county, juvenile justice), where I have also initiated programs in arts-based leadership, critical consciousness and healing based on these principles. I have spoken at schools, probation departments, community centers, and conferences.
"Tremendous gratitude was expressed in my group at Chowchilla State Prison yesterday for your contributions. One woman said she had expected anger from crime survivors and had braced herself for it, and was just amazed by your compassion for everyone in the circle. Several others talked about your compassion as simply inspiring, plus they mentioned your humor in particular. One woman was seriously affected by your talking about brain injury since that was involved in her own crime, and in addition a child of hers has suffered it, and it was revelatory for her and she has been doing her own research since you came. It made a big impact." - David Belden, Circle-Keeper and RJ Facilitator