It was a long journey to STAR for Sonja. After meeting an individual at a protest in 2019, she reconnected with him after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and was invited into conversations around restorative justice and grassroots organizing. Several people in these conversations had attended STAR and spoke highly of the training. When Sonja started working at the Sexual Violence Center, she began having conversations with her coworkers and supervisors about the implementation of restorative justice. The Executive Director and program manager agreed to sponsor her to take STAR. They saw how many survivors don’t want to go through the regular retributive justice system and needed ways of healing beyond prosecution.
For Sonja, the most transformative part of STAR was embracing the process and allowing it to change her. Tapping into trauma, learning about the cycles of violence, and applying the strategies to break free were all relevant not only to her work with sexual assault survivors but also to her personal life. She learned her reactions are normal and that there is a “possibility of a life past trauma”. STAR gave her hope for herself and for other people—for communal and transgenerational healing.
She believes we are currently at a turning point. The systems are showing cracks and falling apart. In her view, the teachings of STAR are pivotal for this moment. What are we going to build after the system crumbles? How do we move forward? How do we find different ways of healing and coping that don’t rely on demonizing and punishing others? STAR offers a foundation for imagining a new way of being in relationship with each other that generates and creates healthy power for personal and structural transformation.
Sonja is excited to be on Peacebuilding’s board. She looks forward to helping promote STAR and spread the word about Peacebuilding through creating new relationships and building bridges.
Learn more about Peacebuilding's 2-hour, 8-hour, and 38-hour STAR offerings here!