Peer Support

Mothers for Justice United has observed, and experienced, a cascade of losses and injuries which follow from the loss of a family member to state-sanctioned, as well as race-based vigilante violence. The litany goes something like this, with individual mothers experiencing some or all of these losses:

  • The loss of a loved one
  • The loss of one's mind -- an injury to mental health and well-being
  • The loss of one's physical health, as a result of trauma (can be temporary, or more long-lasting)
  • The loss of income 
  • The loss of employment
  • The loss of stable housing
  • The loss of trust in the system, in authorities, in the community, and/or in the meaning of life itself
  • The loss of faith
  • The loss of reputation, as when authorities, the media, and the public villify the victim, and the surviving family members
  • The loss of relationships with friends, neighbors and/or family members when others tire of our grief, or can't support our efforts to achieve justice

This constellation of losses, and the challenges it presents, is unique to this group of individuals -- which has been called "a club no one wants to belong to." As a result, it can be hard to feel understood, and/or to find practical guidance and assistance in beginning and sustaining this difficult journey.

Million Moms March
The Mothers for Justice, a group of women who have lost their sons to police and vigilante violence, bring their demands to Washington, DC, in a Million Moms March.
Posted by AJ+ on Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The peer support model has been employed among addicts supporting each other through recovery, with victims of domestic violence, with people struggling with mental illness, and even to address the stress and emotional trauma which can plague police officers. The beginnings of such an approach have been seen recently among survivors of victims of mass shootings, with parents, for example, traveling to provide support to other newly traumatized family members after the Parkland shooting.

Mothers for Justice United has been engaged in this work in an informal way since its beginnings, as mothers especially have reached out to Maria Hamilton in the aftermath of their own tragedies. This work has been a solace in some ways, as surviving mothers have found strength and meaning, and even healing, in the experience of listening, advising and caring for those newly initiated into this dark place.

A major goal of Mothers for Justice United is to provide trained and certified peer support for family members of victims of police and racist vigilante violence. The organization is working at present to develop the model, and to identify funding to support this effort.

Visit the link below to learn more about peer support, and about the mental health consequences of the kind of headline events that have given birth to the Black Lives Matter movement.