CHICAGO, March 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The nation’s leader in helping people leave lives of violent extremism, Life After Hate today released its framework outlining best practice when it comes to using former violent extremists as peer mentors in the disengagement and deradicalization space.
“The work of deradicalization and disengagement is complex and messy,” Life After Hate CEO Patrick Riccards said. “It is insufficient for any organization working in this space to just mean well. Life After Hate is the industry leader because we believe peer mentors can, should, and must work within a multidisciplinary team with licensed mental health professionals and social workers in this effort. Those seeking to leave lives of violent extremism can benefit from access to peers who have literally walked in their same boots. However, we must be clear that lived experience exiting a violent extremist movement does not imply a Former has the ability to help others leave violent extremism behind. We must be clear on the knowledge, skills, and abilities those peer mentors should possess, as well as the training and oversight required to ensure peer mentoring provides the greatest benefit possible, while minimizing the risk of harm.”
“For too long, this space has been the Wild West, with little in terms of standards, professionalism, and best practice,” Riccards said. “Life After Hate has a responsibility to ensure that individuals seeking to leave violent extremist movements, as well as Formers are treated fairly, professionally, and with respect. And we take that responsibility seriously.”
According to Life After Hate, “Peer mentors are ‘Formers,’ people who have successfully changed their violent extremist beliefs and identity. They are committed to nonviolence, acknowledge the harms of their past beliefs and behaviors, take responsibility for the consequences, and strive to make amends when and where it is possible. They have built and continue to maintain nonviolent social networks and strive to reintegrate into society in prosocial roles. Peer mentors have engaged in intensive self-examination and personal growth to address the vulnerabilities that led them to violent extremism and were caused by their involvement in violent extremism.”
Founded in 2011 by former violent extremists, Life After Hate’s mission is to help people leave the violent far-right. As the first nationally recognized and federally funded non-profit organization positioned to assist those wishing to disengage from VFRE, Life After Hate strives to provide the most cutting-edge programming and client services.
To download the document, visit https://www.lifeafterhate.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Formers-as-Peer-Mentors-at-Life-After-Hate-1.pdf
About Life After Hate
Life After Hate is the nations’ leader in helping individuals disengage and deradicalize from violent extremism. Founded in 2011 by former violent extremists, Life After Hate’s mission is to help people leave the violent far-right, connect with humanity, and lead compassionate lives. As the only nationally recognized and federally funded non-profit organization positioned to assist those wishing to disengage from violent far-right extremism, Life After Hate strives to provide the most cutting-edge programming and client services. For more information, visit lifeafterhate.org.
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