In today’s fast-paced digital era, professionals and organizations are often thrust under the public spotlight. Whether it’s because of a mere rumor, a genuine mistake, or a false allegation, the scrutiny is real and often harsh. When these concerns center around ethics, integrity, or professional misconduct, the consequences can be far-reaching.

However, every response a person or entity chooses in the face of criticism is usually driven by instinct, shaped by their previous experiences and deeply held beliefs. The emotional toll of being accused can be overwhelming, often leading to reactions that align with the four typical trauma responses: fight, flight, freeze, and fawn.

1. Fight

In this mode, professionals or entities perceive the situation as an attack and decide to retaliate. This is the “us versus them” mindset. Some common reactions in this category include:

  • Taking legal action against those who have raised concerns or criticisms.
  • Engaging in aggressive PR strategies to control the narrative.
  • Direct confrontations with activists or accusers.

2. Flight

Flight mode involves retreating from the situation, hoping it will fade with time. Some manifestations are:

  • Resigning from positions without addressing the concerns.
  • Avoiding media or public appearances.
  • Removing oneself from social media platforms temporarily or permanently.

3. Freeze

In the freeze response, the individual or organization becomes paralyzed by the accusation and might:

  • Not respond at all to concerns or criticisms.
  • Engage in passive observation, waiting for others to act on their behalf.
  • Feel overwhelmed and unsure of the next steps, sometimes leading to severe mental distress.

4. Fawn

Fawning is the trauma response where the person or entity tries to appease their accusers. Some examples include:

  • Over-explaining themselves.
  • Taking the blame even if not entirely at fault.
  • Attempting to pacify stakeholders by making hasty decisions or concessions.

These trauma-driven responses often propel individuals and organizations into the “victim triangle,” where roles of the persecutor, victim, and rescuer interchangeably play out. For instance, by aggressively confronting accusers (fight), an entity might position itself as a persecutor, while an individual taking on disproportionate blame (fawn) might find themselves in the victim role.

Safe Mediation’s Restorative Justice Pathway

At Safe Mediation, we believe there’s a more compassionate and productive way to address accusations and concerns. Restorative justice is about understanding the genuine needs of all affected parties, which are often hidden beneath triggering words and actions. We seek mutual understanding and balanced resolution.

Our approach is unique. While many restorative justice practitioners can get caught in the victim triangle, we’re focused on breaking out of it. Our ethos revolves around approaching every situation with humility, maturity, and respect for everyone involved. We’re kind to the people and hard on the problem.

It’s important to understand that our methods are backed by a solid foundation of research, practical application, and success stories. Our comprehensive background and expertise in psychology, trauma care, understanding of the law, unbiased neutral empathy, and non-violent communication are not just buzzwords—they are the pillars that support the effectiveness of our approach. Our track record and client testimonials stand testament to the transformative power of restorative justice.

To those unfamiliar or new to restorative justice, we invite you to consider it not just as an alternative, but as a progressive step forward in conflict resolution. Engage with us, ask questions, share concerns, and let’s collaboratively work towards a fair and just resolution. If you or your organization find yourselves in the midst of accusations or concerns, remember that Safe Mediation’s restorative justice pathway offers a way to rebuild bridges and ensure every voice is heard.

Anaisa Seneda

Anaisa is a mediator and conflict resolution expert who helps leaders navigate difficult conversations and confrontations. She offers individualized sessions and safer, neutral mediations to unpack and resolve difficult conversations, with a track record of success in mediating family disputes, corporate storms, and community distress.

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Contact us. Find out if this is a good fit for you. We work with an integrative approach including psychological, legal and financial needs.

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