Identity Is Part Of Healing

Regarding Nadia Raza’s article “The Love that Liberates Us,” Eugene Weekly May 11: As a former long-term resident of Oregon Department of Corrections, I agree that identity, as it relates to the stories we tell about ourselves and the world, is a vital aspect of healing and transformation.

During my prison sentence, I listened to hundreds of crime stories. Considering that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) correlate to higher rates of delinquency and crime, most of the descriptions I heard made sense when connecting the dots between trauma, criminalization of people and subsequent crime.

Delving into identity through story is delving into accountability — both personal and external accountability. Personal accountability is a felt and expressed recognition of causing harm to others. External accountability is the recognition that crime has context and people who commit crime often come from environments of disadvantage.

“We all participate in this system.” The authentic stories we tell about our roles are the exact thing needed. For justice impacted people, stories provide agency and strength that help heal from harmful experiences. For non-justice impacted people, stories help to understand the correlation between systems of trauma and disadvantage as they relate to crime.

Shawn McWeeney
Executive Director
Juvenile Advocacy and Mentorship

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