WHAT WE DO
The Ahimsa Collective offers the following programs:
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of The Ahimsa Collective are collaborating with a new network called Mutual Aid & Restorative Justice (MARJ). MARJ was started by a coalition of people in the Bay Area of California who work with survivors of violence, trauma, and crime, and with currently and formerly incarcerated people. It is a network for everyone, regardless of geographic location, with a focus on those impacted by violence and trauma, crime survivors, formerly incarcerated people, and those with incarcerated loved ones. In addition to matching people for one-on-one calls, we offer weekly online check-in circles, support for those experiencing harm in the moment, local grocery drop-offs in the Bay Area, and, when possible, modest financial assistance to those in need.
"Realize" - Restorative Approaches to Intimate Violence
In Prison Program:
This is a 16 month circle program in California prisons that utilizes restorative practices to explore participants’ relationship to intimate violence – which includes family abuse, sexual violence and domestic violence. Drawing on a restorative justice practices and trauma healing philosophy in a supportive setting, we explore topics such as trauma, resiliency, accountability, gender socialization, structural and historical conditions of violence, shame and worth, breaking silence, cycles of offense, and impact on victims/survivors. In each session, we talk in Circle, process in small groups, are presented with concepts and utilize experiential exercises. Sometimes we interact with guest speakers and survivors of violent crime. Our circles are co-facilitated by incarcerated leaders and free facilitators.
This program is currently operating in Valley State Prison, the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (SATF), Avenal and soon Mule Creek Prison.
Victim Offender Dialogues (VODs)
A victim offender dialogue** (VOD) is one of the most impactful Restorative Justice models. It is a face-to-face meeting between the person who was harmed and the person responsible for the harm. The experience of talking directly with the responsible party in a safe setting allows the victim/survivor to give full voice to all they endured and experienced as a result of a crime. They are finally able to say what they need to say and to get answers to questions only the person responsible for the harm can know. People responsible for harm, no matter how severe, are given the chance to hear the often wide-ranging and complex impact of their actions. Only then can they fully realize and understand the effects of their actions in their entirety and formulate their own response. Both parties are active participants in a reparative process, tailored to their needs and abilities. It allows them to expand on the meaning the tragic event had for them and explore a new purpose in their lives.
Survivors of violence need to be at the center of any conversation around harm.
At present, we offer:
1) One-on-one conversations and support for survivors, connection to resources, and the opportunities for survivors to share their stories with in-prison groups, if it’s appropriate. Survivors also have the opportunity to participate in a VOD (dialogue with a person who harmed them) process, if applicable. If you are a survivor of sexual violence or violent crime, please see our resources page or contact us.
2) Resiliency Rising a year-long circle for women of color who are survivors of sexual violence. In this group, we focus on healing, self-care & nourishment, listening to and processing each other's survivor stories, and exploring materials that build resilience.
We offer trainings in Restorative Justice, Trauma Healing, Facilitation and Restorative Approaches to Intimate Violence. We welcome requests from community groups, universities, prisons,or organizations to create a workshop that is specific to your locale. If we cannot do it ourselves we will do our best to refer you to someone who can.
Restorative Approaches to Sexual Harm and Intimate Partner Violence in the Community
Sexual harm and intimate partner violence happen all the time. If you have been harmed and want to be heard, or to hold a facilitated dialogue with the person(s) responsible, or with others in your community, and if you want to explore alternatives to going to the police, please contact or .
Parole-mandated reentry services typically tell you what to do more than they ask you what you need. Our reentry group of formerly incarcerated people and their partners or loved ones in the Bay Area, Sacramento and Stockton, is centered on our own needs. At our monthly potluck dinner we talk informally in groups about the issues we are facing. We offer each other help with contacts for jobs, getting a driver’s license or driving lessons, info on public transportation etc. We pay what we can into a fund for mutual help, share a closet for furniture needed to move into a new place, drive newcomers to appointments, and get together to play ball or have a family day in a park. If you are interested, contact .
Community Circles are a way to build community and/or work through conflict or harm in your family, university, organization, community group, or place of spiritual worship. Organizations might want to meet monthly to work through interpersonal conflicts in order to “walk their talk” and prevent large scale rupture. Student groups might choose to use Circle to strengthen their student organizing. Families might choose to use Circle to come together to deal with conflict. If you are trying to figure out how to get started, contact us.
Trauma Education for Law Enforcement and Systems Professionals
Law enforcement officers can be subject to immense stress on the job. Many people do not realize how dangerous and traumatic a correctional or police officer’s job can be. If not given the ability to process their trauma, officers may progressively lose flexibility and humanity on the job and at home. They have a much higher than average risk for PTSD and suicide.
The physical safety of judges, prosecuting and defense attorneys, clerks and other civilian staff in the criminal justice system is not usually in question. However the spiritual and emotional toll of experiencing so many stories of violence, encountering so many survivors, and sending so many people to prison can engender a severe level of vicarious trauma. While there are taboos against admitting this in public, these professionals talk to us in private about their own needs for healing.
Our trauma trainings are experiential engagements where we cover topics like trauma & resiliency, vicarious trauma, suicidality and grief, understanding feelings and emotions, the impact of shame, and teaching facilitation skills to initiate peer support groups. If you are interested in a training, please contact us.