Hidden Water is a restorative justice approach that interrupts the cycle of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and the resulting harm to families, communities and society as a whole.
Together in restorative healing circles we transform life after sexual abuse from an isolating experience of quiet shame into one marked by strength, dignity, and collective healing.
Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is pervasive. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in four girls and one in six boys experience sexual abuse before the age of 18. CSA uses a pattern of harm that uses shame, secrecy, isolation and blame to perpetuate itself. The results are complex and reverberate throughout our communities and society. CSA is the underlying cause of many mental health issues, crime, suicide, poverty, and many other ways in which people do not reach their full potential professionally and personally.
Hidden Water’s mission is to interrupt the cycle of childhood sexual abuse by creating healing opportunities for individuals and systems so they might create an environment around them that both knows how to prevent CSA and raise the awareness of allies, and to guide people through the path of healing from sexual harm. Our intention is to create rings of healed people inside family systems, organizations and communities, who are alert and aware enough to prevent this type of harm, and to support others in doing the same.
Why Restorative Justice?
Most child sexual abuse goes unreported to the criminal justice system —there’s a sense that criminal justice intervention could cause more harm than good to the victim. Or the abuse occurred so long ago, the criminal justice system isn’t a viable option anymore. While Hidden Water does not preclude the use of the criminal justice system, we concern ourselves with a restorative, reparative approach to healing the individual and/or the family system. We also understand that accountability is also an indispensable factor in healing, regardless of your role in the harm. We look to support healing from the abuse and the different ways a family system or community can further harm the survivor after the initial abuse has occurred.
Our program operates on these core assumptions:
We can heal from anything.
There is a path to healing from being harmed, and a path to healing from having harmed.
We heal in relationship, not in isolation or alone.
We cannot kick anyone out of our circle.
Those that are willing to sit in witness of our lived experience, without judgement, will be the “family” we need to heal.
Our model is based on the indigenous practice of Peacemaking Circles and founded on the belief that abuse harms all members of a family, community and society, not just the person directly impacted. We must address the harm as a system. Everyone is welcome to step up and do their part to heal the impact of child sexual abuse - not just the one that was harmed or the one that harmed.
We welcome anyone that feels impacted by childhood sexual abuse including the non-offending parents and other loved ones that may not have known about the abuse initially but are impacted by it after the fact.
Circle provides an opportunity to speak to how the abuse has impacted you, to take responsibility for anything you regret doing and express remorse, while also holding space for everyone to be in the process of healing at their own pace without allowing the abuse to be denied or minimized.
Healing from childhood sexual abuse takes time, and it happens when everyone in a system has an opportunity to give voice to their experience, in all the various ways the harm takes form. The impact of harm dissipates the more it is witnessed, understood and shared. The weight is too much for one or two people to hold. Circle frees up the one who was harmed from the impossible task of healing this trauma on their own for everyone’s benefit and distributes the pain to be held by a wider group.