Date of Award



This report discusses a 10-month exploration of how our capacity to hold relational harm with complexity impacts our ability to interrogate systemic harm without discarding parts of ourselves and/or each other. Embedded in this inquiry are dynamics of positionality, privilege, identity, belonging, conditionings, and nervous system regulation. This exploration is shaped by my experience as a white cis-gender woman navigating intimate partner violence with a white cis-gender male police officer in the state of Vermont, between 2018-2020. The methodology of this experiment is grounded in the concept of Witnessing: Courageously being with what is happening without looking away nor needing to control or punish what is in front of [me] to make myself comfortable” (McIlvennie, 2022). From this concept, a suite of relational and neuro-physiological methods was developed and applied within different relational dynamics across my personal, professional and community life. Structured conversation and self-reflection were the main vehicles of assessment and integration. Through reflection, application, and observation I discovered how my conditioned embodiments of accountability (control, perfection, diminishment of self and other) prevent me from embodying responsibility consistently, authentically, and lovingly. Additionally, this experiment revealed the differences between achieving nervous system “safety” (and what my body knows as “safe”) and fostering conditions of belonging within myself and with others (inherently vulnerable and at times deeply uncomfortable). This experiment brought into focus the reality that my prior conceptions of leadership as flawless, harmless, and linear (in growth and capacity) in fact limit my capacity to shape change from a place of courageous trust and authentic presence.

Program Director

Matt Kolan

Professional Affiliate Coach

Ramsey Champagne

Your non-Rubenstein School Graduate Faculty Committee Member

Heather Talley

Document Type