Impact Justice’s Research and Action Center came to us with devastating research into the prevalence and effects of trauma among men imprisoned for violent crimes convictions. But they also brought the wisdom that trauma is not unstoppable and that investing in trauma-informed policy and practice can offer men who have suffered and society as a whole great hope and, possibly, the chance for some collective redemption.
What IJ wanted for their first major publication of their Men and Trauma initiative was something to stand out from everything they had done prior. This work is heart work to IJ, and they want audiences to hear its beat without any distractions.
Approach We do not, as a society, often consider the sufferring that leads people to cause sufferring down the road. Compassion for the guilty is viewed as excuse or apologia for the unforgiveable. But IJ's Men and Trauma research points so clearly to the potential for emotional redress to halt the casacade of harm that it proves compassion to be wise. We needed to bring an audience into the childhood vulnerability of men they might believe are beyond the point of growth and change, and to remind them that we were all completely innocent.
With careful consideration of the potential for re-traumatization and unintentional harm, we landed on an emotionally immersive exploration of the data and of interviewees’ testimony. We designed and developed an illustrative visual and interactive language to carry the data and text, laid in voice actors reading key passages from consenting interviewees, and wrapped the entire experience in a commissioned music bed. The whole piece was custom coded and occupies its own URL, as this is something special for Impact Justice and the field as a whole.
The Men and Trauma interactive is the first loving salvo in a greater narrative battle. It has gained solid notice and hopefully sewn the evidentiary and emotional seed for a major revision in our understanding and appreciation of men who experience and engage in violence. In basic terms, Impact Justice is thrilled with the product. In broader terms, we hope that this inspires others to compassionate action.