Mahoney Hale is Hawaii’s only Federal Residential Re-Entry Center (RRC) for offenders preparing to release to our community.
Up to 90% of Mahoney Hale’s female residents have been sexually abused. Such past traumas strongly correlate with a woman’s pathway to criminality, her crime, and even her experience of prison as a re-traumatizing event.
Now, imagine a convicted felon has served her sentence and is moving onto your street. Would you rather she had only experienced punishment during her incarceration, or that she’d been offered opportunities for change?
Mahoney Hale is exemplary in its trauma-informed care perspective1, which addresses the continuing impact of past traumas, including incarceration itself. Through healing these old wounds, female residents obtain healthy coping skills and self-images. This creates a strong foundation from which to make different life choices to reduce recidivism.
Why boxing? As counterintuitive as this may seem, boxing can be an antiviolence experience, especially in the non-contact format of my awesome project. Let a participant in a similar program for survivors of violence2, explain:
“It’s a creative release valve for me because I tend to harbor my emotions inside so that they become toxic. And with the heavy bag I imagine that the bag is all those people who made my life a living hell…..While you are letting it [anger] out you’re not hurting anybody, in fact you’re helping yourself. I mean a lot of times we’re told ‘turn the other cheek’….but what happens if you’ve had years of doing that? How do you deal with or release all that pent up anger and hatred inside of you safely?”
Anger is a dominant and appropriate emotional response to violence and trauma. The opportunity to safely embody and release the anger can be transformative, a motivation for real change.
1Roe-Sepowitz, D., et al. (2009). Social Work with Groups, 32: 4, 330-341.
2Van Ingen, C. (2011). Sociology of Sport Journal, 28: 171-188.
Funded by Oahu, HI (February 2014)