In Healing Dialogues we share our stories and listen deeply with open hearts.
We respond with compassion and accompany each other in healing the harm caused by violent crime. New Healing Dialogue participants start with a carefully guided, safe, meeting of 20 to 30 people, evenly divided between family members of murder victims and family members of offenders. Leaders trained in the Healing Dialogue model teach about open-hearted listening and the value of sharing one’s personal experience.
In small groups led by skilled leaders, each person tells his or her story while the others listen.
To be heard with compassion and nonjudgment is healing; to do this with those typically viewed as the “other side” can be transformative.
What people say about their experience with Healing Dialogue and Action:
“The system, prosecutors, and attorneys tell us that victims are on one road and offenders are on another…I think now there has to be a third way, one where we work together.”
A woman whose son was murdered
“I’ve spent so long feeling disconnected from society…Healing Dialogue and Action helped me come out of my shell so I can be a more productive member of society.”
A woman whose brother was sent to prison for life
“I used to tell my children, ‘A bad man killed your uncle.’ After today, I will need to tell them something different. ‘A person made a terrible mistake and killed your uncle.”
A man whose brother was murdered
Healing Dialogue and Action creates
opportunities for action and leadership.
For many, action is a part of healing. We work together to change the criminal justice system so it is one that offers an opportunity for transformation for victims, offenders, and families. Healing Dialogue and Action seeks to meet the needs of those most harmed by crime and criminal justice systems and to bring important voices to the debate about reform.
For more than a generation, the discussion of criminal justice has been impassioned, adversarial, and often angry. Many have insisted the interests of victims and defendants are absolutely opposed and mutually exclusive. Healing Dialogue and Action crosses those divides.
There are many ways to get involved:
Participants get training on public speaking, storytelling, small group leadership skills, and policy work.
People whose lives have been affected by violence are empowered to take an active role in justice reform.
Participants have met with legislators, testified before legislative bodies, spoken to churches, and performed pieces describing their transformation and vision.