Engaging painful stories requires us to be rooted in values to help navigate the inevitable complexity that comes from naming and addressing trauma and harm:

Trauma work is messy.

Trauma disrupts memory, language, meaning-making, and relationships (with self, others, ideology, the natural world, and the Divine). Because of this, we make space for complexity, non-definitive and non-formulaic answers, and mystery in order to hold our stories in their fullness and dignity.

People are more than their trauma.

We recognize the danger of pathologizing survivors and believe in the power of naming, educating, and advocating for change. Survivors demonstrate incredible strength and resilience and exist within specific social, cultural, political, spiritual, ecological, and built environments.

Spirituality is integral.

No matter what your belief or religion look like, we believe spirituality is a core component of the human experience that helps us create meaning in our lives. It is because of its centrality that it holds both the capacity to harm and to heal.

Relationships are foundational.

Humans are social creatures who need each other to regulate emotions and bodies, to learn and grow, and to feel safe and belong. It is within the context of relational connection that we experience our sacred worth and integrate the harm we have experienced.

We all have room to grow.

Every person has a limited understanding of reality and the world. Centering the conversations around diverse voices helps us to grow in our understanding of how people are impacted differently by their environment, especially those who tend to be overheard. This type of learning is often uncomfortable and requires cultural humility and multicultural credibility/sensitivity.

Harm is individual, Collective, generational, and systemic.

Harm, abuse, and trauma often occur on an individual level. However, they are indicative of larger systems that actively and systematically cause harm to certain people at disproportionate rates. This means reckoning with the ways we have personally overlooked and benefitted from systemic harm at the expense of marginalized individuals’ freedom and belonging.

Compassion leads to action.

It is not enough to be sympathetic with a person’s experience of trauma. Transformation happens when we enter into relationship and let our compassion guide us to actively coming alongside of survivors in their complexity and working to prevent and shift the context that enabled harm in the first place.

Creativity, humor, and play are essential.

Even in the intense work of addressing trauma and harm, it is vital we use creativity and find humor and play in our conversations and interactions. These help build hope and let us tap into our own resilience.

The Bearing Witness Project provides resources, not therapy.

We do not provide therapeutic services and exist only as a platform to inform, discuss, and reflect on religious and spiritual harm and trauma. If you are seeking assistance, please seek professional mental health counseling and check out some of our listed resources.