I have been repeatedly struck that teaching NVC in Oregon prisons is about working with tragedy, and never so much as last night. We were hearing the story of a man whose father had repeatedly raped and brutalized him as a child. He was in prison because he had killed someone who he discovered was raping and brutalizing children living in his neighborhood.

The tragedy for me is that because he had learned not to trust those who he should have been ableto trust to care for him, he believed that no one could be trusted and that he was the only one that could take action to protect these children. So he saved the kids and ended his life as a free man.


Other Tragedies include:

  • Children who desperately need mental health care after experiencing such devastating traumatic experiences rarely get it.
  • Sending traumatized people to prison traumatizes them further, adding to their nightmare, and to the amount of pain they are carrying.
  • We ignore the truism that hurt people, hurt people. As a result we do not take responsibility for how ignoring those affected by violence and trauma perpetuates violence in our communities.
  • Our communities are less safe because we are unwilling to address thetrue causes of violence, and because we discard those who are hurting.

When teaching NVC in Oregon prisons, we lead participants through learning a communication skill, and in doing so we also lead them through the thinking that forms their mental prisons. This man is slowly learning to trust others, and I am moved hearing his increasing willingness to grow and change. And I am feeling deep sadness that there is so much unaddressed tragedy.