Community Accountability

Before going further, please read: 

I practice Community Accountability as an abolitionist community-based alternative to criminalization, punishment, and alienation. This process is appropriate for responding to harm and violence such as: 

  • Physical and sexual violence and harassment

  • Intimate abuse

  • Abuse of power

  • Theft from an individual or community 

I will not help to coerce anyone into participation in a CA process (e.g. through threat of being "cancelled.") Public shaming is proven to lead directly to trauma, harassment, violence, isolation, and abuse, and reproduces the criminal-legal system. The threat of cancellation and being forced to "take accountability" cause hyper vigilance, which reproduces oppressive violence, in which people are forced to constantly police themselves and each other in order to conform or avoid punishment; hypervigilance contributes to poor mental and physical health. I will talk with folks who are resistant, hesitant, questioning, or have concerns, about making the decision that is right for them. CA must be entered into voluntarily and focuses on owning harm we cause, making amends, and preventing violence.

 

If people who have done harm do not want to participate, we can still work together to: 

  • Work with those harmed and community toward justice and transformation

  • Generate support for those harmed, toward their needs and goals

If you have questions about this, there are some resources below and feel free to e-mail me as well! 

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We Will Not Cancel Us: And Other Dreams of Transformative Justice by adrienne maree brown

Alternative opportunities for transformation and moving forward when justice, demands, or accountability are denied, or a formal process is not possible

A Resource

Community Accountability

Community Accountability is exactly what it sounds like: accountability at a community scale. CA is a process based in Transformative Justice, which assumes that both individuals and communities should take accountability for harm and work to prevent it from happening in the future. As a community accountability facilitator, I support communities in addressing harm and violence without engaging with police and other systems of criminalization. People reach out to me about CA in a few scenarios: 

  • Someone reaches out to me after experiencing harm or violence and needs support getting justice, amends, or change from the person or people who caused them harm. 

  • Someone reaches out to me after having done harm, who needs help navigating public call-outs, shaming, or requests for accountability from their community. 

  • A community or social group reaches out to me after an incident of harm has happened and they don't know how to intervene or respond but want to avoid criminalizing responses. 

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An essential component of the CA process is the pod.  Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective define the pod as a specific group of people who come together to support one another in times of harm or violence.

As a facilitator, I work with all three of these pods in coordinating their efforts, facilitating meetings and communications, and applying a transformative justice lens to strategizing responses. Unlike my role in other forms of conflict facilitation, I play an active role in advising, encouraging, and counseling participants on their approaches to responding to and preventing harm and violence. That said, participants are ultimately in the position to make final decisions and act in the ways they need or wish to.

To begin talking with me about community accountability, visit the contact page to schedule an intake meeting (zoom) or complete an intake form.

What you can expect

Community Accountability takes a lot of time, communication, capacity, and emotional energy. Think of it this way: in CA, a group of voluntary (unpaid) individuals are taking on a process that has traditionally been dealt with by an entire system of institutions: police, community social work programs, non-profit agencies, courts, and prisons. And CA is essentially inventing from scratch the processes, responses, and programs necessary to prevent harm, because these solutions: (a) are not part of our current systems, (b) are tailored to each particular community and set of circumstances. 

Common Difficult Dynamics

  • One person or small group reaches out to me and we are unable to bring in the other necessary pods to go through with a process, because key people are unwilling or unable to participate.

  • Pod-members burn out early because the emotional toll or time commitment is significant and/or life gets in the way.

  • The person who did harm says they want to take accountability, but stops short of meeting the demands of the survivor and the recommendations of the facilitator and community pods because they are not ready or in a place to fully take accountability/step out of denial. This causes other people/pods to drop out or seek alternative means of justice.

  • The person harmed wants or demands things that the other participants or pods are unwilling or unable to act on, and the person harmed chooses to leave the process because this causes them additional hurt/harm. 

When these dynamics come up, I work with whoever is still engaged to seek alternative forms of healing, amends, or justice that do not depend on the other pods. A key component of CA, unlike the prison industrial complex, is that it is a consent-based process, and no one can be forced/coerced/made to do anything they are unwilling to do.

Assessing Readiness

Often, people harmed and people who have done harm have their own processing and inner-work to do before they can be ready to engage in a process. This is normal, healthy, and makes sense. I highly encourage (but do not require) folks to sign up for at least two counseling sessions with me to discuss what happened and the potential ups and downs of a CA process, to assess readiness and alternative options. You may want to find a therapist, counselor, or other healer as well, and I can help you find someone who is a good fit for you.

Logistics: 

  • If you want to proceed with a CA process, reach out to me via the form or an intake appointment. 

  • CA lasts for several months, often a year or longer, with long periods between sessions (weeks or months) during which people engage in support and try to accomplish short-term goals.

  • There is no charge for me to facilitate a CA process, unless the community pod is a fully funded organization with the resources to pay me, or the person who did harm is wealthy and willing to pay as a part of their amends/restitution. I will never charge a survivor for CA.

Example process structure

Me (facilitator)

Survivor Pod

  • Supports a survivor in healing, recovering, and meeting needs of housing, food, and medical care 

  • Listens and advocates for their needs for justice and amends

  • Helps coordinate any sessions or processes that help them achieve their goals.

Community Pod

  • Listens and responds to the survivor and their needs for justice, amends, or repair and to the conditions that made them vulnerable to or targeted for violence

  • Listens to the conditions that led the person who did harm to do what they did

  • Develops and enacts plans to address structural and relational conditions within the community, with the purpose of preventing similar acts of harm in the future

Accountability Pod

  • Supports someone who did harm or violence in understanding/learning the impact of their actions, taking accountability/responsibility, and changing behavior

  • Assists them in navigating the social conditions that make them vulnerable to criminalization

  • Helps coordinate any sessions or processes that help achieve accountability

Important Video Resources

Important Text Resources

Incite! Community Accountability Principles (Click Here)
INCITE! is/was a network of radical feminists of color organizing to end state violence and violence in their homes and communities; their work is essential to the development of community accountability strategies being used and experimented with today. They applied and learned from these strategies in confronting sexual violence and state violence. 

taking risks: implementing grassroots community accountability strategies from The Revolution Starts at Home (PDF here)
Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA) provide an overview of their principles, strategies, and scenarios in confronting aggressors and taking accountability within a transformative framework.