Hope through Healing
Writing about healing is challenging for various reasons. It's a deeply personal journey, often difficult to articulate and share. The concept of healing manifests differently for each person every day, making it challenging to share it within a single narrative.
Reflecting on 2015, when we initially met many of the DuHope women, they were emotionally battered by life, victims of mistreatment by others.
These resilient women had built formidable emotional barriers to shield themselves, resorting to harmful coping mechanisms to navigate the pain in their lives. Some would arrive with visible signs of physical abuse, sporting bruises and cuts from the night before. On Mondays, it wasn't uncommon for them to appear with shaved heads, a result of spending the weekend in jail.
I distinctly remember saying, "We didn't have a plan for jail," a phrase I never anticipated saying in my lifetime.
A pivotal moment in the healing process occurred with a woman who had hit rock bottom, taking longer than others to break free from survival sex work. She exhibited a remarkable level of stubbornness, despite numerous interventions by the staff. During one attempt to convey the neglect of her child, she shockingly responded, "It's fine, you can have her." We were uncertain about the catalyst needed to inspire her to change her life.
The Artisans, in a last-ditch effort, implemented a contract ensuring punctuality and accountability. This woman breached the rules, receiving a warning. Another violation would result in her expulsion from DuHope. When I was called in to enforce this decision, the other Artisans intervened, pledging to accept her warning collectively if it meant she could stay.
I vividly recall the tension in the room as she contemplated her choices, aware that this could be her last chance. She had to either embrace the offered mercy, unearned and undeserved, or leave.
In a profound moment, she accepted the gift of mercy, transforming her life. Hope, cultivated through healing, is the transformation from anger, confusion, and hardness to smiles, self-love, and care for her children, with a newfound desire to give back. Hope is reflected in the healing scars on her face.