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Storytelling at the Wyoming Conference for Violence Prevention and Response

By Brandi Dye

I was lucky enough to attend the 6th Annual Wyoming Conference for Violence Prevention and Response. This year’s theme was Lifting Voices: Stories for Healing, Transformation, and Relationship Building. As CCASA’s Communications and Community Engagement Manager, I was thrilled to learn more about different types of storytelling and how communicating those stories can help us prevent violence here in Colorado.

There were three days of amazing keynote speakers and breakout sessions, so it would be nearly impossible to share every single thing I learned. But I will focus on two of my favorite sessions and what I’m bringing back to CCASA and Colorado.

Preventing and Mitigating Childhood Trauma

On the first day of the conference, I attended the ACES 2022: Understanding More about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Epigenetics, and the Most Recent Research breakout session. While I was already familiar with ACEs and the impact they can have on adults who experienced them, this session went far beyond my knowledge. The facilitator moved us past describing the 10 ACEs and toward deeper understanding. Session attendees learned about how ACEs can lead to toxic stress and how toxic stress can change brain structure and chemical levels.

New research also expands beyond the ACEs to include nine other childhood experiences that could lead to trauma and toxic stress: discrimination, poverty, racism, experiencing/witnessing violence, intergeneration/intercultural trauma, separation from parent due to immigration or foster care, bereavement and survivorship, adult responsibilities as a child, and other major life changing events.

In my opinion, reason this session was so impactful was the optimism it included! We discussed how mitigating trauma can start with building human connections, which is something everyone can do. As a communications professional, I was also excited to learn about the ways I can communicate a reframing of childhood adversity that allows us to act to prevent and mitigate the trauma that includes, and can cause, violence.

The Power of Storytelling

Another favorite break out session was Storytelling as an Innovative Practice Toward Liberation. All humans are full of stories, and learning to tell these stories helps us be better champions of equity and anti-oppression. tai simpson, the facilitator, led us through one of the ways she incorporates Indigenous practices into telling stories and helping us all journey in our relationship to our own stories. CCASA is so lucky to work with powerful survivors who tell their difficult stories of sexual violence to make the world better and safer for other survivors. Learning new ways to create stories is something I will bring back to my work with survivors, including our Survivor Task Force.

Learning from experts and expanding my own knowledge at the 6th Annual Wyoming Conference for Violence Prevention and Response was an opportunity I’m truly grateful for. Be sure to keep up with CCASA to see some of the ways I will bring my new knowledge to the work we’re doing here in Colorado!