Mike writes: Trigger warning! I’m going to be reflecting on the issues around sexual trauma in the workplace and in schools that have been in the news over the last few weeks.
As I write, the topic of women’s safety and the prevalence of rape and sexual harassment in workplaces and places of education has been very much in the news and in the field of consciousness, with the #march4justice marches happening in cities and towns around the country.
As a man, I’m embarrassed to say that until a few years ago I didn’t realise just how unsafe many women feel in many situations. I simply took it for granted that the relative safety that I feel as a man going about daily life is what everybody experiences.
Since I started working with Phoenix, I have seen clearly the lasting pain that has been caused by the lack of safety (including violence and sexual trauma) that so many people have experienced – starting in the home, in school and beyond.
This uncomfortable truth has been swept under the carpet and hidden for too long. All too often people who spoke out were shut down and ignored. Victims were told it was their own fault. In particular, the voices of children and women were silenced.
But the tide is turning. I am very grateful for the courageous women (and men) who have been speaking out about their painful experiences. Only by acknowledging what has happened can there be any chance of changing things so that future generations can feel the safety that is their birthright. It is really important that men like me listen and also that men and women in privileged positions of power listen with open hearts to the pain and trauma experienced by those who have been violated.
Some of the most profoundly moving experiences I have had over the last few years have been witnessing the healing that happens in our workshops.
After a painful violation it can be incredibly hard to trust again. And this in turn can make it hard for people to connect and love in the deep ways that we all need as humans.
In our workshops we co-create a space of deep safety in community. This safety comes through a commitment to deep listening and respect for each person, as well as embodying the mantra that “All Is Welcome Here” – including all our messiness, our not-holding-it-together, our fears, our rage, our tears and our shame. In this safe space, by connecting with and following the innate healing wisdom that each person holds, healing becomes possible.
I believe that there is no more important work for me to be doing. And particularly as a man it is a blessing and a privilege to be able to contribute to the healing of these deep wounds.