Community Empowerment

communitycircleNews of a sex offender moving into a neighborhood or a level 3 sex offender Community Notification meeting often leaves a community feeling like:

  • They are the victim: Much like someone that has been offended sexually, they feel that those in authority that are there to protect them have violated their security.
  • Heightened level of fear: Fear for their children, their community and that their neighborhoods are no longer a safe place.
  • Their voice was not heard: This has been perpetrated on them and they have no voice. Leaving them feeling hopeless and abandoned now with a sexual predator living among them.
  • Overwhelmed with conflicting information: The media says one thing, the statistics do not match, and they believed their children were safe but now they are not.
  • No longer my community: I have lost my local park, I am afraid, security has been violated and leaves them just wanting to move. Fight or flight instincts have kicked in.

These are just a few of the reactions to someone who’s offended sexually and living nearby. How can we help dispel some of the fear yet leave the community empowered to see and recognize sexual victimization? How can they be proactive in prevention and part of the solution?

Phase 1 – Education

We provide a panel of experts for education and a significant time for questions and answers.

This panel discussion is hosted by the City in a park/facility or at least close to the notification area. It is imperative that a presence from the City and the city/county law enforcement agency attend, but not on the panel. This promotes the restoration that those in authority are a part of the community and are concerned with the education and healing of those community bonds that may have seemed violated.

The focus of the panel will be:

  • Educate
  • Myths and Facts
  • Victimization Prevention
  • Promoting Community Involvement

Outcome expectation of Panel Discussion

  • Restoration of Authority being part of the solution
  • Fear is dispelled through education
  • Awareness of Prevention Measures
  • Sense of Community Bonds (we are in this together)

Phase 2 – Community Healing

We provide a Community Healing Circle. This community healing process would be hosted at a local community center or church and would meet a minimum of three times.

The Circle process has been in the fabric of our communities since ancient times but has now gained a level of prominence on the national level as an evidenced based best practice. Circle process is recognized in restorative justice programs, victim impact circles, conflict resolution, and in this case community trauma.

The basic process of the circle is that all people in the circle have an equal voice and should be heard. The circle will include a trained facilitator and community members impacted by sexual harm.

Outcome expectation of Community Healing Circle

  • The Community has a voice
  • Healing of community trauma
  • Community Resolution
  • Communication

Another outcome of this circle process is personal healing for those participating. The national statistics are that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced sexual trauma before the age of 18. The safety of the circle process can expose these deep wounds and we will provide additional resources if these emerge. Hurt people hurt people and that pain often is manifested in the community anger and fear. We can partner together to promote healing so that the cycle of sexual victimization is broken.

Although this is a tragic experience for the community it can be turned into an opportunity where community bonds are strengthened, public safety and awareness can be heightened so that sexual violence can be exposed and prevented, and healing for the community can begin. We look forward to partnering with you to accomplish these goals.

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