Transforming Trauma Episode 106: Community Wellness and Collective Liberation with Susan Raffo
A podcast brought to you by the NARM® Training Institute
In this episode of Transforming Trauma, NARM Senior Trainer Brad Kammer invites author, cultural worker, cranial therapist, and NARM Practitioner Susan Raffo to share about her powerful work with the NARM community, as well as the motivation behind her latest book, Liberated To The Bone. Susan’s professional approach combines NARM’s trauma-informed framework with the nuances of her ancestral lineage as both colonizer and the colonized.
Susan begins by reflecting on “the relationship between the individual and the collective, [and] in particular, the way that trauma weaves back and forth between the two and across time.” The resulting conversation is a tender, authentic examination of what prevents humans from forming deep connections, both interpersonally and under the broader umbrella of community.
“What gets in the way of the thing?” asks Susan while simultaneously revealing that the thing––connectedness, wellness, safety––already exists. Unfortunately, our current systems still operate under a biased doctrine that is largely blind to the cultural significance of interdependence and what Susan calls the “intersections between healing our physical bodies and healing our social relations.”
She shares that she is descended from southern and western European people and people native to Turtle Island, and she is committed to working towards preserving the memory of her grandfather’s native line. Susan’s consideration of complex familial relationships and passion for radical, ancestral-based healing is evident in her work with Healing Histories Project and REP: Relationship Evolving Possibilities. The former seeks to interrupt the medical, industrial complex, and harmful systems of care, while the latter is a network of Black-led abolitionists dedicated to supporting folks in crisis. REP was created after George Floyd’s murder and is based in Mni Sota Makoce (or Minnesota), where Susan currently resides.
As Susan explains, Healing Histories Project and REP provide authentic and culturally focused foundations for addressing complex and generational traumas and reclaiming agency. Only then, she says, can we promote whole community wellness. “It's linking arms with NARM. If we… practice companioning, a lot of the time something will soften, and something else––a different possibility, a different state of being, an insight––will emerge, which then makes other things possible.”
We are grateful to Susan Raffo for how she’s weaving the NARM approach into her individual and collective healing work. We invite you to listen to the full episode to learn more about her journey and the personal connection that drew her to this work.
About Susan Raffo:
Susan Raffo is a writer, cultural worker, and bodyworker. She is part of the Healing Histories Project, which focuses on transforming the medical-industrial complex and confronting eugenic legacies. She works with REP: Relationship Evolving Possibilities, a Black-led community-based crisis response model grounded in the belief that we have the ability to love and protect one another without giving our agency to systems built to destroy, consume, or commodify us. Author of Queerly Classed (South End Press, 1997) and Restricted Access (Seal Press, 1999), she is published in a range of anthologies and websites. She is based in Minneapolis, MN.