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The We Must Heal Ourselves Initiative was founded, as a 400+1 program, in October 2018, after Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the United States Supreme Court following sexual assault accusations. Kavanaugh’s accuser, Dr. Ford, attested to his assault of her before the Senate, reminding the country of and re-sparking conversations about Anita Hill’s courageous plight of the same nature in her battle against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. This sparked outrage and was a catalyst for mass conversation around accountability and consent, triggering many survivors of sexual harm. One noticeably missing element of the conversation was the voice of Black survivors. Just this year, more evidence of R.Kelly’s abuse of young, Black girls surfaced, highlighting just how little society cares about protecting Black women and demanding accountability from those who harm them. Now, #WMHO is taking on the national sexual assault clearance controversy and local miscarriages of survivor justice in Austin and Houston, Texas.  


#WeMustHealOurselves has tasked itself with: 


  • Honoring the power and momentum of this moment; demonstrating the power of collective action

  • Empowering survivors of sexual harm to raise political consciousness, shift the political climate and turn community attention toward systemic alternatives to the criminal justice system

  • Carving out emotional and psychological capacity for marginalized communities to engage the issue of survivor justice 

  • Demanding healing and reconciliation as a prerequisite for individual and community growth and rebuilding


#WeMustHealOurselves is applying an abolitionist and healing oriented framework for justice in pursuit of reconciliation and acknowledgment for survivors. This campaign will prioritize Black survivors of sexual harm, individuals who are silenced and neglected in traditional survivor and feminist campaigns. 

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#WMHO Action

The #WMHO will be launched with a survivor-led direct action happening in Austin, TX to call demand justice denied to survivors by negligent existing systems.  

Comprehensive #WMHO Guide

meet our action planning committee

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  1. Justice for Survivors 

  2. The requirement of law enforcement agencies nationwide to transition to the National Incident Based Reporting System (Precedent)

  3. Data on exceptional clearance practices from the thirty four law enforcement agencies that refused to share said practices with Newsy

  4. No more money for Austin Police Department in the City of Austin’s 2019-2020 proposed budget

  5. Divestment from Austin Police Department’s sex crimes unit and investment in: 

    • a. The creation of a survivor and sex crimes specific position at The Office of Police Oversight (Precedent) 

    • b. Institution-wide training for city funded institutions on survivor sensitivity, eliminating misogyny and sexism from institutional environments, and city inflicted trauma on survivors

    • c. The creation of a survivor review board to which APD must submit sexual assault cases before clearing them 

    • d. The creation of an independent, community driven agency of survivor justice e. Support of Austin-based alternatives to 9-1-1 for survivors (Precedent

  6. A published and community accessible timeline for the investigation to be conducted by an independent entity that was mandated by the city’s recent resolution

  7. Commitment from Austin City Council and City Manager, Spencer Cronk, to actual and specific consequences for employees of Austin Police Department implicated in the mishandling of sexual assault cases by the results of said investigation

  8. The adoption of the National Incident Based Reporting System by Austin Police Department (Precedent)

  9. The termination of Brian Manley from Austin Police Department (APD Chief June 2018-Present)

  10. The termination of Art Acevedo from Houston Police Department (APD Chief 2007-16)

  11. A report on knowledge of clearance rate processes, sexual assault clearance rates, and exceptional clearance rates from Mayor Adler indicating when and how much he knew about Austin Police Department’s practices

  12. The termination of Travis County Assistant District Attorney Mindy Montford 

  13. Travis county pre and post trial diversion to programs that offer offender-victim dialogue, conferencing, and sentencing circles (Precedent)

  14. Allocation of twenty percent of the public safety budget to community driven programs that address sexual harm and offer alternatives to Austin Police Department

#WMHO programs, initiatives & Events

  1. #WMHO Community Response Institute: The We Must Heal Ourselves Community Response Institute will offer alternatives for survivors, offenders, and their communities through community hotlines, independent investigation, health clinics, group and individual therapy, sharing circles, victim-offender dialogue, victim impact panels, conferencing, and accountability circles. The institute will utilize volunteer efforts, organizational collaboration, and community support to redefine and truly demonstrate what #safetyforsurvivors looks like. 

  2. Believe Survivors Training: #WMHO will conduct a Believe Survivors Training on sexual harm, its prevalence, and statistically supported responses for city employees, ally communities, and survivor communities respectively. 

  3. Case Cleared Screening: #WMHO will screen “Case Cleared”, a documentary and expose on the national sexual assault clearance controversy. 

  4. Statistics for Black Survivors: Statistics for Black Survivors will spearhead a research initiative that uplifts the voices and narratives of Black survivors for whom the research community has failed to represent. 

  5. The Burden of Proof Event: The #WMHO campaign will host events at which the community can discuss root causes for and alternative solutions to the “burden of proof” imposed upon survivor communities. 

  6. The Listening Project: The listening project is an interview series, research initiative, and podcast that documents survivor stories in ways that are both guided by and healing for survivors. 


want to learn but don't know where to start? we got you!

Comprehensive #WMHO Guide



A Different Path for Confronting Sexual Assault: What Is Restorative Justice?

What is restorative justice? A practitioner explains how it works.

By Sujatha Baliga | Oct 10, 2018


After Assault, Some Campuses Focus On Healing Over Punishment

Heard on All Things Considered | NPR KUT 90.5

By Tovia Smith | July 25, 2017

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