For many, action is a part of healing. While compassionate listening and the dialogue process is an essential foundation, the HDA model is equally grounded in the knowledge that advocacy for change too, can be a healing process. People impacted by the justice system often feel helpless, isolated, and a loss of control over what is happening in their lives. For many survivors and families who have loved ones incarcerated, taking action to change systems becomes an empowering experience that furthers their healing journey. Social action helps transform their traumatic experience into something meaningful. It helps connect individuals to a larger movement for positive change. Healing Dialogue and Action participants have advocated for change on criminal justice, victims-rights, and immigration issues.
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 then bring those important voices to the debate about reform. 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. Healing Dialogue does something else that is unique: It crosses the traditional divides between “victim” and “offender.” For many communities, of course, these are patently false divides: it is not uncommon for parents to visits a child’s grave one weekend and a child in prison the next. But the power of people with varied experiences joining together as advocates is significant. Imagine: Teams of mothers of murder victims and mothers of youth sentenced to prison sitting down together to speak with policymakers in support of reform.