Compassionate Gathering
End Abuse, Heal the Wounds

Compassionate Gathering recognizes that the whole community is wounded by abuse
and that the whole community needs to be a part of the healing process.  

What We Believe

Every Person is Sacred.

  • Every person is important; every story is special; everyone’s opinion is valuable.
  • Every person deserves a chance to redress grievances.
  • Every person deserves to be able to tell their story in an environment safe from interruption, put downs, sarcasm, criticism, denial, and judgment.
  • A person stopped or thwarted from speaking feels pain or anger
  • Confidentiality is necessary for the wounded to feel safe coming forward and will be respected.  However, anyone who has harmed another person will be encouraged to come forward and accept responsibility, apologize and make amends for their actions for their own sake.

Connecting With Others is a Sacred Act

  • Restorative Justice seeks to restore the humanity of all those hurt by a crime.  The whole community is hurt by a crime and and the whole community plays a role in healing.
  • ”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that that ever has.  --Margaret Mead
  • “Everyone on all sides of a conflict is wounded.” -- Gene Knudsen Hoffman
  • We are like puzzle pieces.  Alone we are incomplete.  Without any one of us, the puzzle is incomplete.
  • Every person brings their own unique and valuable gifts to the whole community.
  • Concern and care for sex abuse survivors must come first as survivors have experienced the deepest wounds.
  • We include everyone who wants to be included.
  • Diverse opinions help us to strengthen our own ideas rather than damaging them.
  • The culture we come from affects how we perceive and treat others.
  • Everyone on all sides of the sides of the issue of sexual abuse within the setting of the Catholic Church has been wounded.  To heal, we have to acknowledge the woundedness on all sides, listen to each other compassionately, and work together for understanding and healing.

Apology is a Sacred Gift

  • Apology is a gift the offender gives to himself as well as to all those he offended.
  • Effective apology is very healing and conducive to forgiveness and reconciliation between the offender and the offended.  Effective apologies have been described by Aaron Lazare M.D. in his book On Apology.
  • Those who are offenders include both those who abused others and those who enabled the abusers and willingly kept accusations of abuse quiet and failed to care for the wounded.
  • The offended include both those who were sexually abused but also others who  trusted those who led them to tell the truth and keep both children and adults safe from sexual abuse.
  • Those who offended will find healing in accepting full and clear responsibility for their actions.
  • Those who were abused must be assured that the abuse was not their fault.
  • Those who were abused must receive some sort of reparation for the harm caused by the abuse and the coverup of abuse.
  • Those who offended by covering up abuse will heal themselves and others by demonstrating that the policies and patterns of handling reports of abuse have changed permanently.  The community must be informed of all accusations of abuse.     
  • All offended people are entitled to an apologies of their choice -- public apologies or a private apologies from both the abuser, from those who covered up and from those who failed to support usare .
  • When we are spiritually strong, we are able to turn the other cheek and treat those who are angry with us with respect and compassion.

Healing Is a Sacred Journey

  •  We have to come to terms with our own wounds before we can fully understand the wounds of others.
  • Traumatic losses and devastating events experienced by others can be very difficult for those of us who have not experienced them to understand.  Sometimes all we can do is acknowledge the other person’s woundedness and hold their place as they struggle towards healing.
  • The healing process is a hero’s journey through the unknown.  Sometimes the healing process leads to forgiveness and reconciliation, and sometimes the healing process leads elsewhere.
  • “Sometimes we try to reduce anxiety by quick forgiveness, thinking it is necessary to forgive and forget as rapidly as possible.  This does not work for we deny unresolved issues.  They remain and continue to poison the relationship.”  --Gene Knudsen Hoffman
  • Forgiveness means different things to different people.
  • Those of us who were sexually abused have to begin the process of forgiveness by forgiving ourselves enduring the abuse we endured.
  • We forgive ourselves for being too young to understand the situation.
  • We forgive ourselves for being naive.
  • We forgive ourselves for not being able to walk away.
  • We forgive ourselves for being paralyzed with fear.
  • We forgive ourselves for not being able to speak up and tell others about the abuse.
  • We learn to see ourselves as the wounded child and to nurture and cuddle that child within each of us.
  • We come to understand that we are fine, that we did not do anything wrong.
  • Many abusers were abused themselves as children and have been unable to get out of the cycle of abuse in their lives.  We can forgive the situation that led to the abuse and still recognize that the acts of the abuser were very harmful and grossly immoral.
  • We can forgive the situation that led to the abuse and still want truth and justice.
  • Forgiveness does not mean having to reconcile with those who have hurt us. Indeed, reconciling with someone who has not acknowledged their wrongdoing or is still engaging in hurtful acts can be harmful, especially for people who are emotionally fragile.
  • For some of us, forgiveness is simply letting go of obsessive thoughts about those who have hurt us so that these thoughts do not rule our lives and hold us prisoner.
  • For others, forgiveness means being able to say, “Thank you, God, for my troubles for they have made me the strong and compassionate that person I am.”
  • In Judaism, many believe that God does not forgive the offender until the offender has apologized and made amends to those he hurt on this earth.
  • Sincere repentance on the part of offenders and a complete disclosure of the truth are very healing and very conducive to forgiveness and reconciliation.

Copyright 2007 - 2012, Virginia Jones and Elizabeth Goeke

I am human because you are human.  If you are dehumanized, I am dehumanized.
--Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chair South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission
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