Restorative Circles with Dominic Barter: We Need A Better Way of Resolving Conflicts

Expressing My Grief that We Do Not Have a System of Restorative Justice in Our Communities

Restorative Circles could give us some hope. Sometimes, if I’m really honest, I avoid presence. When I feel really present like I do in this moment now, I feel grief. I feel a lot of pain. I feel the grief of how disconnected our society is. My friend Hristiyan Atanasov posted on Facebook yesterday his anger about seeing men not respecting women’s sexual boundaries. And reading it triggered much bigger issues for me. The grief of watching my brothers and sisters slave to addictions, treating each other horribly because they are unconscious. The grief of the disillusion of attempting to participate in “conscious relating” communities, only to find the people there not much more conscious than anyone else. Unconsciously hurting each other, with little to no accountability. In addictive relationships dressed up as “models” for the rest of the community.

Many of you are aware of my painful saga with Mark Manson. I will tell you the most painful part of it. That he won’t face me. He claims to be a connection expert, yet he hides behind his computer screen, behind his girlfriend, behind blacklisting me on false accusations. Why do you suppose he has to hide from me when all I want is to be heard? I’ll tell you why. Because his story about how his actions were “justified” would dissolve in a room full of presence and accountability. He would no longer be able to keep his present course of action. He would feel compelled to make changes. Presence changes people. And that is, for many of us, the deepest fear.

I have received a lot of support in the past couple months from people who finally seem to be waking up to how horrific it was to be lied to for months by Mark Manson. Mark Manson got sex, free publicity, a very deep relationship from me, and he did it all under false pretenses. Then he bailed and never made it right. Then he spent the last 5.5 years mostly being abusive, dismissive, and stonewalling. A public figure claiming to be a connection expert should be called out on the carpet for these insane behaviors.

And yet still a few messages from the people in denial continue to trickle in. I received one yesterday from a woman so delusional she actually thought I would hire her as my coach in order to get over this and move on.

I have no intention of getting over this and moving on … until it has been fully addressed by Mark Manson and remedied. This experience with Mark Manson SHATTERED my life. It destroyed my ability to trust men and people. What Mark Manson did is completely out of alignment with everything he purports to teach. It is LUDICROUS that a self-proclaimed connection expert has been allowed to get away with this outrage for 5.5 years. And I have no intention of letting it go, ever, until it is fairly addressed.

How would Mark Manson address this and make it right?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Unfortunately, we live in a society of despair where people gave up on being heard years ago. We were never taught the skills to get conflicts resolved in an inclusive way where everyone gets a happy outcome. And even so-called connection experts like Mark Manson don’t have these skills. We have been so accustomed for so long to “letting people get away with it,” making excuses for them, “looking the other way” … that the mere mention of holding out for real justice triggers an onslaught of criticism and projection. It’s like most people simply cannot imagine that we don’t have to live like this anymore. There is a better way.

Years ago now, I attended a Restorative Circles workshop with Dominic Barter when he came to San Francisco. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before. It made most dating and relationship advice seem totally impotent. Dominic Barter was working in the juvenile justice system in Brazil. He was getting victims, offenders, teachers, prison guards, families, and communities all into one room together to talk about what happened. And the restorative circle work of Dominic Barter in Brazil was so powerful that the recidivism rate of these offenders was ZERO. His work was so powerful that people who had hated each other began working together after the Restorative Circles were complete. His work was so powerful that tough hard-core prison guards would break down in tears and acknowledge how horrible and painful it was for them working in the prison systems.

The restorative circle work of Dominic Barter was so much more powerful than any other relationship advice I’ve ever seen, it touched me forever.

I’m crying right now as I write this, tears of hope and despair all mixed together.

So in the hope that even one person will be inspired by this article to learn more about Restorative Circles … and the fact that we don’t have to “live with” injustice for the rest of our lives … today I am sharing a few of Dominic Barter’s Non-Violent Communication, Empathy, and Restorative Justice videos from YouTube.

Dominic Barter on Empathy and ACTION, Part 1:

Dominic Barter on Empathy, Part 2:

Dominic Barter on Empathy, Part 3:

Dominic Barter on Non-Violent Communication (in Portuguese):

Mediation in Action:

Here are more videos from Dominic Barter explaining how Restorative Circles work. I cannot emphasize enough how different is the experience of being in one as opposed to just being told how they work. Restorative circles are far more powerful in action.

If Mark Manson and I had been in a restorative justice circle 5.5 years ago, this problem would have been resolved. It feels extremely painful to me that he has not been willing to do this.

How could a self-proclaimed connection expert not want to learn these skills?

How could any man who wants to have a real global impact not learn these skills?

I don’t know. All I know is the pain I feel each and every single day. The pain of being unheard. The pain of being treated so unfairly. The pain of being excluded. The pain of seeing a man whose communication “skills” involve calling me “old and ugly” held up as a role model. The pain of seeing such utter hypocrisy and unconsciousness and feeling powerless to do anything about it.


erika awakening

About the Author:

Erika Awakening is a Harvard Law School graduate and former practicing attorney. She left the rat race to become a location-independent entrepreneur, holistic life coach, blogger, speaker, healer, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) expert. Erika Awakening is one of the world's foremost experts on eradicating limiting beliefs and lifestyle design on your own terms. Learn more about Erika Awakening

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  1. Rebecca Swenor says:

    Times have changed so much from the old days and there is more people out that there that care just about themselves. I have always thought you have put yourself in others shoe to really know how they feel. Sometimes it is not worth the headache and we have to let things as well as people go..

  2. I know a man who treats women terribly, as a common pattern. I’ve known him for 30+ years and he has been through many relationships, and has had 4 wives. He’s treated every single one of them the same. Same patterns, same idealistic treatment on the surface, and totally not that way at home. He’s well-loved by all who meet him (until they get to know him). And even after all of this time, he has no accountability. It’s always anyone’s fault but his own. I feel sorry that he’ll never be content or happy until he finds out that the root of what makes him unsuccessful in relationships is him. He’s 50 now. If he’s going to learn, he’s sure going about it v.e.r.y. slowly. He’s a family member, and I love him for that reason alone, but his character is very very very deliberately shady, and he doesn’t care. I guess your post reminded me of him. It’s sad really, but I washed my hands of it all a long time ago. Hoping you get your heart washed from the pain that resulted from your relationship. I know these things don’t always come easy.

  3. Erika I was in a position similar to you once. It was very very painful for me. There were a lot of lies involved and a lot of money as well. It’s how I discovered EFT. Although EFT helped a lot, I was still in pain. The work by Byron Katie helped to take away that pain. Inquiring about what should be and what he should do, what I need him to do etc. I persistently would inquire about thoughts that arose about how the situation was less than perfect, and eventually, after persistent work, the pain went away. I am now thankful that it happened because it “broke” me and forced me to look deeper inside of myself than I ever have, and because of that, I was able to heal myself (by questioning my stressful thoughts) and gain my freedom. I have been reading your blog and am aware that you know both these techniques, but I just wanted to share my experience :)

  4. Rebecca Swenor says:

    It is sad that he can not face you to resolve this conflict. Some people just don’t want to admit to themselves their faults. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Lyfé Wisdom says:

    First, I must say that Erika Awakening is a great name for an author and a website. Second, I agree that our society today has numerous flaws and most of them are deep and hurtful. Keep up the great posts and I look forward to reading more. Hope you can visit The Candid Nation at! Thanks!

  6. Maria Lopez-Castro says:

    I think our society is lacking empathy and compassion in general. It is something that desperately needs to be addressed in our younger generations.

  7. It’s a shame you’re letting the actions of one man ruin your trust in all men. He is the exception, not the rule.

  8. HI Erika, I realize alot lately (and I have had trouble with bullying in my life) That it's not about me, it's about them, once the personal element is removed (which seems to be happening a lot and more naturally lately) these people back down pretty quickly and even had problems coping when they cannot get a rise out of me. When they can't get the response they are looking for, especially to justify their actions, I find they have a time handling it, and the underlying motivations and pain driving the behavior become exposed and when they're vulnerable, then real healing can take place, it's like holding a space for them, it's pretty awesome. It's actually very fulfilling! As I continue to remember who I am, I have greater and greater difficulty in getting upset about things that used to upset me, it takes more energy to get back there! Hope it helps!


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