The promises and pitfalls of restorative justice for intimate partner violence
This research article highlights the views of victims, perpetrators and key informants regarding RJ practice in IPV [Intimate Partner Violence] cases. Most of their opinions differ considerably from the opponents of using RJ for IPV.
By focusing on issues of safety, frequently a cited contraindication against RJ, this research makes it clear that movement is necessary by both RJ practitioners to develop improved processes and for relevant stakeholders to take a more open-minded approach to using RJ for IPV in appropriate cases.
Restorative justice & violence against women
One of our BCSTH members asked me to do some research on restorative justice and its role in cases of violence against women. Here is a summary of my research process.
Restorative justice in domestic violence cases is justice denied
Restorative justice is often a very good way to deal with crime, and it's a method that any criminal justice system could benefit from using. But it's not appropriate in every case – and it's especially troubling to see it used in domestic violence cases.
Thanks to a long feature in last weekend's New York Times Magazine, the concept of restorative justice is getting some much-needed attention. The practise is centered on the idea that justice should involve restoration and healing, instead of simply punishment.
Violence against women: restorative justice solutions in international perspective.
Cases of isolated and slight aggressions suffered by victims with enough social and personal resources (who have denounced the facts or taken other decisions to finish with the situation of violence) are suitable for mediation.
The resource to mediation should be excluded, on the other hand, in cases with incidence of chronic or long-term violence and domination. The aggressor will possess such influence and power that the probabilities of reaching a completely voluntary agreement and that this agreement considers the interests of both parts will be scanty.
4 tips for restorative justice programs, skills with victims and addressing domestic violence
....I’ve been working with Restorative Justice for 14 years, full-time the past 6, going on 7 years. I read all I can find, I am passionate about using a holistic response to people, finding the strengths and power for transformation and healing in Restorative Justice. These 4 tips come from experience and education.
Circulos de Paz and the promise of peace: Restorative justice meets intimate violence
Circles of Peace/Circulos de Paz was founded in Nogales, Arizona in 2004 to address these myriad problems with both the criminal justice response to intimate violence and Batterer Intervention Programs. Circles of Peace is the first court-referred domestic violence treatment program to use a restorative justice circle approach to reduce violent behavior in families in the United States.
The program consists of twenty-six to fifty-two weeks of conferences, or "Circles," bringing partners who have been abusive (the "applicants") together with willing family members (including those who have been abused, the "participants"), support people, a trained professional facilitator, and community volunteers. The goal is to encourage dialogue about the incident, the history of violence in this family, and meaningful change.
Is restorative justice suited for gender-based violence?
from Sylvia Clute's article on Genuine Justice:
Feminists have long decried the deficiencies in the traditional criminal law system when it comes to gender-based violence. The criminal law system fails victims, offenders and the community; there are no winners. Most cases are never reported, and the reported cases have a high attrition rate. Few cases are actually prosecuted.
According to Melanie Randall, a law professor with expertise in legal remedies for gender violence, the needs of the victim are diametrically opposed to the needs of the criminal law system. That system is driven by complex rules; it challenges the victim’s credibility; she has no control; she must tell the state’s story instead of a coherent narrative around what happened to her. There is no protection against recall, and there is no safe face to face confrontation.
Relations of domination and subordination: Challenges for restorative justice in responding to domestic violence
from the paper by Julie Stubbs:
Barbara Hudson is cautious in her approach to RJ: she summarises the appeal of RJ in ‘the openness of story telling and exploration of possibilities for constructive and creative responses to offences’. In the context of domestic violence she suggests that RJ offers the victim ‘the opportunity to choose how to present herself… [to express] her feelings, her understanding of events, her wishes and demands for the future’. However, Hudson recognises that the discursiveness of RJ is not without problems such as the risk of domination and the reproduction of power relations and she emphasizes the need for ‘strong procedural safeguards’.
On the efficacy of victim-offender-mediation in cases of partnership violence in Austria, or: Men don’t get better, but women get stronger: Is it still true? Outcomes of an empirical study
from the study by Christa Pelikan:
Put in a nutshell, the core finding of this study reads thus: The efficacy of VOM in cases partnership violence is to a large part due to the empowerment of the women victims, but partly, albeit to a smaller percentage, also due to an inner change, to insight and following from that a change of behaviour on the side of the male perpetrators. These achievements cannot be understood except as part of a comprehensive societal change – a change of collective mentalities, or in other words: change of expectations1 regarding the use of violence in intimate partnerships.
Domestic Violence Surrogate Dialogue
from their website:
Our Mission: The Domestic Violence Surrogate Dialogue (DVSD) program is designed to arrange an appropriate setting and environment whereby domestic violence victims and offenders may meet and engage in a conversation intended to lead to a form of restorative justice. A goal of the session is to generate understanding between the victim and offender as to each other's views and attitudes, as well as focus on the many consequences of domestic violence.
Ideally, the dialogue will be a catalyst for the victim to begin the release of feelings that will allow her to abandon her anger and initiate a healing process. She will also be able to ask probing questions of an offender that she would never have been able to ask her own abuser for fear of retribution.
At the same time, the interactive conversation with the survivor may motivate the offender to seek and find redemption. The offender would recognize that the victim is a person who has been harmed, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.
The program also provides the offender an opportunity to help a victim of the same crime he had committed. By revealing his own insight, motivations and manipulations, the offender can enable the victim to discover how to identify and avoid violent behavior in future relationships. For both surrogates, these outcomes would represent a dramatic breakthrough.