Inclusion Plus Institute

Sexual Assault in Ukraine and the Case for Systematizing Reflection in Organizations

Violence is Violence

Venus Piñeyro

CEO and Founder

I get much food from thought reading Father Richard Rohr’s posts.He recently commented on the feelings of separation (versus connectedness) and the link to violence. Having personally experienced domestic violence I often reflect on the conditions that allow or encourage someone to act violently against another being.

Father Rohr alludes to the fact that the feeling of separation and disconnection from yourself creates an environment fertile for the abuse of others. To me, it is the lack of reflection about our experiences, our wants, and our needs that causes the break between our actions and our values and beliefs. I believe values live deeper within ourselves and our actions can mostly live within our surface. This poverty of reflection makes us act from a place of incongruity which in turn creates “psychological dissonance”. The discomfort can lead us to a careful evaluation of the causes of the uneasiness or to a further tuning out of our values.

The reports of widespread rape in the war in Ukraine have me thinking a lot about all of this. Although sometimes people justify harm as part of the war, this kind of violence is personal.

Rape is inescapably personal and observing the pain inflicted is a fact. It is not the pushing of a button that harms someone miles away; the perpetrator is literally and physically connected to the harm they are causing.

I am sure there are hundreds of papers studying in detail the progressive behaviors and pathology of sexual violence and since that is not my expertise where my mind goes is to violence as a concept.  The question in my head moves beyond the disbelief of “how is it possible that this happens?” to “how can you prevent and then recognize and interrupt violence”? 

Although simplistic, I believe that a powerful violence interrupter is REFLECTION.
Reflect on what is important to you, your values.
Reflect on any internal discomfort you experience when you act.
Be deliberate about finding concrete ways to change it.

How is this connected with my DEI work in organizations?

Well, violence has many phases and faces. The emotional impact of systemic exclusion and unequal treatment resulting from constant experiences of injustice IS a form of violence with deep impact on the well-being of an individual.

If we institutionalize reflection in our systems, we have a good chance of allowing, encouraging and even mandating organizations at an individual level to clarify what is important for each. We can then and set up a systemic guardrails so that behaviors are tested with a lense of respect for all and then systems are put in place that enforce them.

Reflection may not be the cure to violence but it is a starting point and if we normalize it as a habit through our workplaces we will contribute to making our communities recreate the connection needed for peaceful existence.



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