Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools


Domestic Violence

Domestic violence presents unique challenges and opportunities to restorative justice practitioners. On one hand, the restorative process of taking responsibility, addressing past harm and planning for a better future can look very much like domestic violence syndrome. On the other, restorative responses can offer alternatives to a victim who has kept silence out of fear that the abuser will be arrested and the family's means of support ended. These articles address this important area.

Jahan, Ferdous. Gender, Violence, and Power: Retributive Versus Restorative Justice in South Asia.
This dissertation investigates which of four legal/alternative dispute resolution institutions (formal courts, indigenous traditional dispute resolution structures, Lok Adalat, and non-governmental organization sponsored dispute resolution structures) best empower women in South Asia who experience domestic violence. The dissertation explores the extent of procedural power or the direct participation of female victims in procedures of justice processes; distributive power which is the restitution or protection of women through the results of justice processes; and compliance power or the desistence of defendants in each case from further crimes against female victims and the realization of conference resolutions and/or court verdicts. Based on victims’ interviews and interviews with other related authorities, this dissertation concludes that empowerment must be considered on both an institutional level (how an institution is designed) and leadership of the institution (who leads and influences decisions). Finally, this dissertation argues for a culturally sensitive and viable restorative justice model with female facilitators and attendees to ensure justice and satisfaction from a victim’s perspective. Author’s abstract.
Flinck, Aune and Iivari, Juhani. Domestic Violence in Mediation: Realistic Evaluation of a Research and Development Project (Finnish evaluation of social services)
Domestic violence is the most widespread type of violence. According to anonymous interviews, at least one out of five women suffers abuse from a violent partner. Using the argument “no one has to interfere in private affairs” violent men try to protect themselves against external intervention. Violence in intimate relationships is repetitive violence. The assaults will not be non-recurring incidents unless the perpetrator does something about it. In the history of nearly all cases we discovered a spiral of violence characterised by intervals between the violent incidents becoming shorter and shorter: After violent escalations the batterer regrets his action, feels sorry and apologises. He promises that it will never happen again – until the next battering. The victims feel intimidated, confused, powerless and therefore are hardly able to crack this vicious circle without external help. The objective of mediation in cases of domestic violence is interrupting the spiral of violence in co-operation with other institutions and to protect women from future abuse. Mediation certainly cannot be the remedy, but the impulse to stop violence, to find a way out together. (author's abstract)
Glaeser, Bernd. Victim-offender mediation in cases of domestic violence.
Introductory note. Domestic violence is the most widespread type of violence. According to anonymous interviews, at least one out of five women suffers abuse from a violent partner. Using the argument “no one has to interfere in private affairs" violent men try to protect themselves against external intervention. Violence in intimate relationships is repetitive violence. The assaults will not be non-recurring incidents unless the perpetrator does something about it. In the history of nearly all cases we discovered a spiral of violence characterised by intervals between the violent incidents becoming shorter and shorter: After violent escalations the batterer regrets his action, feels sorry and apologises. He promises that it will never happen again – until the next battering. The victims feel intimidated, confused, powerless and therefore are hardly able to crack this vicious circle without external help. The objective of mediation in cases of domestic violence is interrupting the spiral of violence in co-operation with other institutions and to protect women from future abuse. Mediation certainly cannot be the remedy, but the impulse to stop violence, to find a way out together. Domestic violence and the traditional justice system. The traditional justice system responds to battering in an inadequate way, if we see it from the viewpoint of the victim’s needs. (excerpt)
Sack, Emily J.. Battered Women and the State: The Struggle for the Future of Domestic Violence Policy.
According to Emily Sack, perspectives on domestic violence have cycled from an old view of it as a psychological problem between two people with the battered person more or less equally to blame, to recognition that it was a matter of public concern requiring dramatic changes in public policy to address it, and back to an interpretation of it as a 'family matter' and a 'sick dance' best dealt with outside the legal system. Sack expresses great concern at this trend. To explore it, she examines the historical treatment of domestic violence, the critique of current domestic violence policies from advocates within the battered women's movement, critiques of domestic violence policy from groups outside the battered women's movement, and strategies to move domestic violence policy forward without losing its previous successes.
Francis, Stephanie and Pennell, Joan. Safety Conferencing: Toward a Coordinated and Inclusive Response to Safeguard Women and Children.
As an extension of the child welfare model of family group conferencing, this article presents the views of domestic violence survivors, staff, and supporters on how to develop and implement safety conferencing; a coordinated and inclusive response to safeguard battered women and children. This coordinated and inclusive response lays a conceptual foundation for a decisionmaking forum and sets forth guidance for its practice. The article begins with a review of contradictions in feminist analyses of domestic violence, the elevation by the battered women’s movement of women’s choices over family connections, and the ensuing conflict between domestic violence and child welfare (the safety of the children). Family group conferencing is then described as a model that serves as the platform from which to construct safety conferencing. An overview is presented on the participatory approach utilized for defining safety conferencing, as well as a discussion on the practice guidance provided by women who are abused and shelter staff. The article concludes with an agenda for advancing a coordinated and inclusive response that integrates informal and formal networks to safeguard women and children. Safety conferencing is a way to displace assumptions and to build the individual and collective strength to reshape connections, make sound choices, and promote the safety of women and children from diverse cultures. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
Goel, Rashmi. Sita's Trousseau: Restorative Justice, Domestic Violence, and South Asian Culture.
Domestic violence affects women across all national boundaries. Only recently has restorative justice been proposed as a solution to domestic violence issues. For these women, restorative justice which focuses on restoring the family preserves the only support structure available. Paying attention to the cultural specifics that govern these women's lives and how they affect the choices they make, this article focuses specifically on South Asian women who are battered and the unique predicament they face when participating in restorative justice resolutions, as well as immigrant South Asian women who a particularly prone to flawed solutions to battering for many reasons. The article is presented in five sections. The first briefly identifies the goals, values, and methods of the restorative justice model. Second, the article reports on the current state of domestic violence in South Asian communities. It explores the story of Sita and how this model and other cultural practice serve to disempower South Asian women. Fourth, it examines how even modern Indian politics keep women confined to the traditional narrative. Lastly, it is demonstrated why restorative justice should not be applied to domestic violence cases in immigrant South Asian families. If the goal is safety, it is believed that restorative justice solutions operate more to exploit the Indian woman's subservient position than they do to liberate her. The solution of compromising, fore bearing, and suffering silently but maintaining her family seems to be one of greater dignity and certainly more in keeping with her cultural values. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
Edwards, Alan and Sharpe, Susan. Restorative Justice in the Context of Domestic Violence: A Literature Review
Domestic violence has become recognized over the past three decades as a major social, relationship, and justice problem. The activism of the feminist movement is considered a crucial factor in this recognition. Whereas previously, reactions to cases of intimate abuse tended to see the abuse as merely a relationship problem (if it was seen as a problem at all), current public discourse about the prevalence and realities of abuse has resulted in domestic violence being treated more seriously now than perhaps at any time before. There are new laws, studies, shelters, support programs for victims and their children, treatment programs for offenders, and innovations in professional approaches to victims and offenders. Current strategies and laws are not yet achieving the success that reformers had hoped. As a result, new approaches are being introduced on an ongoing basis, all in the hope of making a contribution to an overall successful response to domestic violence. One such approach has come from the field of restorative justice. For reasons outlined later in this paper, restorative justice initiatives in the area of domestic violence have been met with widespread opposition and small pockets of support, from domestic violence professionals, practitioners, and survivors. (excerpt)
Joanknecht, Lineke. Family Group Conference and domestic violence
In recent years, women's aid agencies in the Netherlands have primarily catered for a woman's safety, her protection from the man, offering her shelter and helping her to organise her life herself, independently, far from the man, far from acquaintances who would be able to tell the man where she was living. She can then build up a new life in a place far away, with or without children. However, what we notice in the Netherlands is that this is only a fraction of the solution: it is very hard to start a new life somewhere a long way away. If there are children, the route to the man is never sealed off, because if the man does not go looking for the children, the children will look for their father some time between now and becoming adult, even if no contact has been agreed. Many women also seek contact with their ex-partner after some time; for them it was not so much the relationship as the violence within it that had to stop. That is why new forms of aid have been developed in which more support can remain (or be sought) for the woman and in which her safety is guaranteed. In Amsterdam, for example, in addition to refuges there are also support offices in each district of the city where women who are abused and still live at home can build up a plan of action (to stay, to mobilise aid or to flee). Women, who after shelter choose to return home, can make use of counselling on their return. That is how contact with Family Group Conferencing (FGC) came into being. Since 2001 Family Group Conferencing (a decision-making model) has been successfully applied to Youth Welfare Work in the Netherlands. In Canada and America there had been earlier successes in stopping violence by projects on domestic violence and Family Group Conferencing. In the Netherlands, a start was made in 2002 in providing Conferences for domestic violence. (excerpt)
Rubin, Pamela. Restorative Justice in Nova Scotia: Women's Experience and Recommendations for Positive Policy Development and Implementation. Report and Recommendations
Restorative justice processes have been contemplated as a potential improvement on the failures of the existing criminal justice system to deal with violence against women, and as a potential source of empowerment for women. These analyses tend to downplay systemic discrimination's role in these failures, to ignore family and community roles in the reinforcement of male control of women, and to take an "it can't get worse" approach to justifying unproven interventions through restorative justice. The complex realities of abuse, sex offences and discrimination against women which may impact restorative justice processes, when they are acknowledged, are often seen as remediable through power-balancing techniques and pre-process preparation. However, equity-oriented analysis of restorative justice (such as Richard Delgado's, from which the articulation of themes in this paragraph is drawn) combines both internal and external critiques of restorative justice. (excerpt)
Sunde, Christopher. Stop violence against women: an ethical imperative informs the creation of a domestic violence process group
The judicial inquiry into the murder in Manitoba of Rhonda Lavoie by her estranged husband conducted by Justice P. Schulman recommended, among other things, that Corrections should develop : (a) a second-stage spousal abuse treatment program for offenders. (Schuiman, 1997,72 & 125). In response to this directive, Manitoba Justice in 1999 seconded the student to develop a group program which "would allow offenders the opportunity to explore personal problems in a therapeutic setting" to assist them "to make long-term changes in their behaviour" (Schuiman, 72). The practicum report provides a comprehensive literature review and detailed analysis to adequately reflect the current state of knowledge in intervention. It offers another way of conceptualizing the theoretical perspective on the world-wide abuse of women by men in intimate relationships. The report pays particular attention to the correctional setting in which services were to be provided; this focus is rare in the literature to date. The process was intended to be inclusive, so that both men who receive services and women who survive abuse participated in the formulation of the program. Suggestions for further research are also offered. The program has, in fact, been implemented several times since its creation in 1999. It is hoped that the contents of this practicum report adequately honour the memory of Rhonda Lavoie and the lives of millions of women across the globe. Author's abstract.
Varichak, Anne and Geske, Janine and Leighton, Kyle. Surrogate Circles for Domestic Violence Survivors, Offenders and Leaders.
In the criminal justice world, using restorative practices within the context of domestic violence has been a contentious proposition. While the potential for healing families may exist in the right situation, issues like power, control, and the risk of re-occurring violence by the abusers pose major problems for the implementation of restorative alternatives. With the serious potential impact of these factors, most restorative justice practitioners have concluded that designing and offering a restorative option for battered women is problematic. However, because of a special partnership between a victim-support organization and a batterers’ treatment program, the Milwaukee community is making headway into this area. (excerpt)
Rexroad, Rebecca. Reshaping the Sentencing Circle: Striking a Balance Between Restoration of Harmony and Punishment of Offenders in Indigenous Domestic Violence Cases.
abstract unavailable.
Chancer, Lynn S.. Rethinking Domestic Violence in Theory and Practice.
Drawing on the author’s previous work, this article suggests that conceptual advantages result from envisioning domestic violence on a larger continuum of ‘‘normalized’’ to ‘‘extreme’’ sadomasochistic interactions (including gendered interactions that can also range from ‘‘ordinary’’ to ‘‘deviant’’ in how they are perceived). Thereafter, it may be harder to ignore how redressing social inequities involving gender as well as racial and class imbalances can amount, at least in terms of prevention, to anti-domestic violence measures of one important kind. More concretely, proceeding from the assumption that domestic violence remains disturbingly common (even though its exact scope is difficult to ascertain), this article contrasts how this social problem would best be approached in theory and how it often continues to be dealt with in practice. In making this comparison, a cursory review of recent policy developments in this area, from mandatory arrest policies and laws (and the criticisms these have engendered) to more recent interest in restorative justice and collaborative empowerment, is presented and incorporated into the paper’s larger argument. (author's abstract)
Hazelwood, Lonnie and Turtleltaub, Jack and Smith, Shelia and Cook, Philip and Young, Cathy. Domestic Violence: New Visions, New Solutions
"Our intent in this chapter is to focus on public policy recommendations for domestic violence, with implications for those involved in implementing public policy, as well as clincians providing intervention services." (excerpt)
Mills, Linda G. and Peold, Nicole and Grauwiler, Peggy. Justice Is in the Design: Creating a Restorative Justice Treatment Model for Domestic Violence
"The battered women's movement was the first group to bring public attention to the prevalence of intimate abuse in American homes. Early on this movement developed an educational approach, specifically tailored to male perpetrators who were victimizing female partners, that strove to change patriarchal attitudes and beliefs, which they held to be the root cause of violence against women. While these educational approaches addressed heterosexual male perpetrators of intimate abuse, they overlooked entirely the prevalence and dynamics of abuse in same-sex relationships or by heterosexual female perpetrators. This resulted in a political ideology that has subsequently influenced major federal legislation while blocking experimentation with any treatments for intimate abuse that brought together the victim and the offender, such as couples counseling and restorative justice-based interventions. Generally, it was believed that because of the perceived power imbalance, female victims could not safely participate in any treatment with their abusive partner. This chapter reviews the arguments for and against using restorative justice in intimate abuse cases and outlines how important issues like safety may be enfolded into restorative treatment models. To properly place restorative approaches in context, we briefly review the history of and research on intimate abuse treatment, particularly batterer intervention programs, as well as the existing literature on the use of restorative justice in family violence cases. Finally, we discuss the development of a new restorative treatment now being tested in Nogales, Arizona, that has taken the lessons learned from batterer interventions and restorative justice approaches in family violence to provide a safe, flexible, and egalitarian treatment program for couples and families affected by intimate abuse." (excerpt)
Jones, Patricia and Ensign, Carol. Gender-Inclusive Work With Victims and Their Children in a Coed Shelter
"Imagine being too afraid to return to your home. Imagine leaving your home in the dead of night with only the clothes on your back. Imagine sitting in your car with your children not knowing where to go or who to call. Every year, thousands of women, men, and children face these struggles, fearing the very place they live and the loved one they once trusted. The only refuge for many of these families is one of the more than 2,000 domestic violence shelters operating in the United States today, and while that number seems large, it is far from the number needed to assist the millions of victims in this country each year. Relatively speaking, animal shelters have outnumbered (and continue to outnumber) domestic violence shelters at a rate of two to one, an alarming comparison given the number of children fleeing violent homes every day." (excerpt)
Chapman, Tom and Pratt, L. Darlene. Family Violence Parent Groups
"As we await findings from a "second generation" of research on the processes that mediate the association between domestic violence and children's adjustment (chapter 8 in this volume), help for distressed families can't wait. Family interventions, including group therapy and parent training, have been shown to be both necessary and effective (Repetti et al., 2002). One treatment option is the High Conflict Family Violence Parent Group or Anger Management Parenting Program. In the remainder of this chapter, program features are presented, including case examples, for programs offered at two agencies in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area." (excerpt)
Rybski, Nancy Carole. Family Group Therapy: A Domestic Violence Program for Youth and Parents
"Adolescent-parent violence is a serious social problem not only because of its immediate effects but also because it implicates family problems that exist prior and subsequent to the violence. Antecedent conditions may include interparental abuse that serves as a template for the child's aggression (Kitzmann, Gaylord, Holt, & Kenny, 2003; see also chapter 9 in this volume), dysfunctional personality characteristics that arise from the observation of violence (Kempton, Thomas, & Forehand, 1989), and truncated social and relational skills due to an overall dysfunctional home with inadequate parenting (Repetti, Taylor, & Seeman, 2002; Straus & Donelly, 2001). Children who witness their parents assault one another or are subjected to direct physical abuse by them are at risk for developing symptoms of internal distress (e.g., anxiety and depression) as well as conduct disorders (Margoloin & Gordis, 2000), including retributional violence directed against the parents (Ulman & Straus, 2003). Subsequent conditions involve the continuance of violence into adulthood (Patterson & Yoerger 1993), with violent behaviors against one's partners and children (Simons, Wu, Johnson & Conger, 1995), and the maintenance of inadequate social and interpersonal skills (Lochman & Dodge, 1994). It is clear that adolescent-parent violence is a complex problem with far-reaching implications." (excerpt)
Carolla, Michael. Therapy with Clients Accused of Domestic Violence in Disputed Child Custody Cases
"...These court battles are often referred to qualified custody evaluators who employ a complex system of clinical interview, psychological evaluations, and collateral interviews (Austin, 2001; Gould, 1998). In the initial interviews, parties are often asked about their perceptions of the other parent and their parenting skills, time spent with the children, and other factors that could affect percentage of custody granted. Three major conditions that can affect a parent's custody share in these cases are mental instability, substance, abuse, and family abuse (intimate partner as well as child abuse or neglect). There are many methods available to assess for mental instability and drug use; however, family abuse accusations are much harder to assess for and often get caught up in "he said/she said" allegations." (excerpt)
Potter-Efron, Ronald T.. Anger, Aggression, Domestic Violence, and Substance Abuse
"Perhaps the best single word that describes the relationship between anger/aggression/domestic abuse and substance abuse/chemical dependency/addiction is "complicated." As is noted later, there are at least seven basic general possibilities that range from there being absolutely no connection between the two variables for some people to there being a perfect casual relationship for others." (excerpt)

Document Actions

Restorative Justice Online - Featured Video

A long-time repeat offender describes the impact of meeting with his victims.