What is Resistance?
The word “resistance” is a noun and means to refuse to accept or comply with something. It also means not to be affected by something, especially adversely.
Roni Berger, resilience researcher, states that there are three dimensions of resilience: resistance, recovery, and reconfiguration.
What most commentary on resilience misses, is the how. How does the process of enduring adversity and doing well play out? What does it look like and how does it happen? It might help in answering this question by turning to studies of women who have survived childhood incest and are doing well today; they are resilient.
In researching women survivors of incest, a key finding is the understanding that women who found ways to resist perpetrators were more likely to be resilient, doing well, later in life. Resistance turns out to be a key component of their resilience.
Resistance arms an individual with an internal locus of self-control and a sense of self-efficacy, the powerful notion that they are still in control of their own person. In various studies regarding these resilient women, they fought back. They found ways to create distance between themselves and the perpetrator and deflect dominance.
Carrying this idea of resistance forward to organizational and community resilience, what are the implications? Communities and organizations are striving to become resilient as they prepare for future adverse events. This begs the question, do communities and organizations wait for adversity and hopefully bounce back? Or, do they draw lessons from resilient women and take to the offensive, refusing to submit, creating space and deflecting violence now, and thereby increasing future resilience?