Examples of how Restorative Justice has helped victims to cope and to recover
Our services can support victims to cope and recover from all forms of harm and conflict. Here are just a few examples of cases where victims have been helped by our work.
Historic Sexual Abuse
The victim, now 56 years old, was referred to the service via out of area CRC staff. The case stems from a period of sexual abuse of a father on his daughter over 2 months when she was 14 years of age. Following ‘accidental’ disclosure the perpetrator was arrested, charged and convicted of serious sexual assault of a young person, receiving a £20 fine and conditional discharge. Staff met the victim who wished to meet her father, whom she had not seen for 20 years, and face him over the harm caused. Detailed and extensive preparation work and risk assessment was undertaken. Following this a meeting took place were the victim had the opportunity to face her father and question him over the abuse, including challenging his ‘memory’ of it. Following the meeting the victim said; “It was like taking a big black cloud from over me and putting it over him.” She has stated on numerous occasions how helpful the meeting was and has gone on to present to police officers on the positive outcome. She is attending a Practitioner Training course in the next 6 weeks and will volunteer as a Practitioner.
The referral was received from one of the Victim Liaison Officers who works for NPS in Hampshire. She contacted the family, whose daughter had been killed by her ex-partner, as his licence was due to end. The offence was Manslaughter. The grandmother advised them that her granddaughter wished to meet the man who had killed her mother and the referral was made to our service. The young girl was just 11 years of age at the time of referral. The team met with the girl and both her grandparents, recognising the additional risks presented by the age of the victim and previous relationships of those involved. A prolonged period of assessment and preparation was undertaken before the staff considered it was appropriate and safe to proceed. Particular detail and attention was given to the potential vulnerability of the young girl. A meeting was finally convened and all parties expressed complete satisfaction with the restorative process.
The grandparents participated in the preparation process to support their granddaughter but initially they could not see how they would benefit from meeting the harmer themselves. They supported the granddaughters wish to engage in restorative justice as they lived in a small community and felt that the possibility of them seeing each other was quite likely anyway. They understood that she had unanswered questions as her memories from the incident had blurred over time. She was just 7 at the time of the incident and the harmer was the only other person there who was able to answer her questions about what happened. The victim had been affected in a number of ways and had suffered with nightmares after the offence. As extensive preparation work was completed with the victim and her grandparents, their own needs became evident and they made the decision that they also wanted to participate in the process, rather than just as a support for their granddaughter.
We followed-up on 6 months after the conference and the victims have reported to feel better for engaging in Restorative Justice. The victim’s grandfather has seen the harmer since the conference and reported that there was no issue or uncomfortable feelings, which has helped, as they are likely to see each other locally again.
The offence was a robbery where the offender hid in a female toilet and assaulted and robbed the female as she entered the toilet cubicle. The offender was caught and sentenced to 54 months imprisonment. Prior to the conference the victim and her husband were visited by trained police officers and prepared for the conference. This was particularly relevant as the offence had been committed some years before. The conference went well with the facilitators describing it as "an emotional, impactive and productive meeting demonstrating the real benefits this kind of intervention can bring to both the victim and offender for long term resolution." There were a lot of tears, frank explanations and real insight as to why David (the harmer) did what he did, which was ultimately to feed an 'off-the-scale' class A drug habit. The victim (the harmed) and her husband even offered to give David and his partner a lift home afterwards and the facilitator received a text from the offender later that day thanking the team for allowing him to participate in the impactive restorative conference.
Death by Drink Driving
Stephen, aged 26, was Sue and Mark’s only son. Stephen, a former pure mathematics student at the University of Sheffield, joined the church in 2007 and became part of its staff as a student pastor a year later. Volunteer Mandy was a student life group leader at the church and also helped out with Sunday school and women’s Bible groups. Sue and Mark were visited by the police and informed that Stephen and Mandy had been killed. They had to tell their two daughters of the loss of their much loved brother. A trial took place in October 2013 and, due to the guilty plea, Sue and Mark were left with many questions unanswered. They spoke with the offender’s parents, who were present at the trial, who were also deeply affected by the aftermath of the accident in the knowledge that their 34 year old son would now be in prison for many years to come. In the summer of 2014 Sue and Mark approached their local MP and the PCC with a view to meeting with the offender in a Restorative Justice meeting. Arrangements were made to meet with them to discuss what had happened and what they would like to come out of the process. In simple terms they wanted to ask questions of the offender and to have a clearer picture of what had happened on the day of the accident. They wanted the offender to know that they had no anger or hatred towards him and hoped that this would help him to move on with his life.
Arrangements were made to meet with the offender in prison. He equally wanted the opportunity to speak with Stephen’s parents to explain personally how sorry he was for what he had done and he welcomed the opportunity to meet with them. In November 2014 a restorative meeting was arranged at the prison where the offender was detained. Before going into the prison Sue described how she was feeling. She said that she was apprehensive and felt like she was about to ‘jump into a large black hole’ and did not know what was going to be down there.
At the start of the restorative meeting the offender gave a clear account of what had happened on the day of the accident. He accepted that he had spent much of the day drinking at an event some considerable distance from his home and had not originally planned to drive at all that day. However, having left it too late to find accommodation had decided to drive home and later fell asleep at the wheel. He had no recollection of what happened at the scene other than being taken away by the police and placed in a police cell overnight. He explained to Sue and Mark that he only became aware of the enormity of the accident the following day during the police interview. When he learned of the deaths of Stephen and Mandy he was unable to speak and the interview was suspended for 20 minutes. He accepted from that point on that he alone was responsible for what had happened and he told Sue and Mark that his life could now never be the same.
The offender stated how ‘heart-breakingly sorry’ he was for what he had done and for the ‘devastation’ he had caused to everyone whose lives had been affected.
Sue and Mark wanted the offender to know that he had their forgiveness; that they felt no anger towards him and wished to encourage him with his studies whilst in prison. In addition, they informed him that they would be happy to hear from him by letter, if the prison would allow this.
The meeting lasted for just over an hour and was extremely emotional. As the offender was about to leave and return to his cell he offered his hand to Mark. Mark shook his hand and then placed his arm around the offender’s shoulder and hugged him.
A few weeks later Sue and Mark were contacted to enquire how they were feeling. They stated that the process had exceeded all of their expectations. Sue explained that anger and bitterness just made people ill. She said, “Being able to see the good that can come from something as horrible as this, to shaking hands and embracing was wonderful".
For further information or to arrange a no obligation initial discussion, please contact Restorative Solutions on 01772 842 109 or complete our online enquiry form.