Intimate Partner & Family Conflict
A special-topic Victim Empathy session addressing domestic disorderly conducts and other intimate partner and family conflict. Individuals are screened based on the original police report and court documentation. Victim Empathy sessions are focused interventions. Individuals are screened into a small-group session.
Since a wide variety of cases are considered “domestic,” Restorative Justice screens based on the original incident between current or former intimate partners or between family members. Preregistration is capped to a limited number of seats, and victim advocates and distinct restorative-justice volunteers are involved in the session to focus on accountability. Ongoing or severe cases of intimate partner violence are screened out to the best of our ability; services through SAIF may be appropriate instead. All participants complete and sign a Restorative Justice agreement to commit to better, safer behavior. The group works through curriculum within a group-dialogue process, focusing on personal accountability.
The Victim Empathy session for Intimate Partner & Family situations work with individuals referred for crime and conflict based on interpersonal relationships. This is a surrogate dialogue between referred individuals, victim advocates and community stakeholders. By policy, SCV Restorative Justice does not bring intimate partners together to address conflict, nor do we work with cases of ongoing, escalated violence and abuse. Each case is screened based on an original police report and documentation.
Each group is provided with a standard structure and curriculum. Respectful participation is required, and each individual reflects on the incident they were referred for. Groups work together to discuss their personal experiences and develop individualized plans to move forward.
2016 Full Year Data
All data has been anonymously summarized from self-assessment forms completed at-will by session participants. This data is from a small group of individuals who participated in special-topic Victim Empathy sessions for conflict involving the participant’s intimate partner or a family member.
Restorative Justice uses a group dialogue process instead of a lecture to engage everyone in the process. Our services follow a structured format that is tuned to each group to meet individuals where they are at, providing an intervention for risky behaviors and focusing on preventing further harm through accountability and personal responsibility. Accountability and a plan to move forward with support go hand-in-hand for success.
Domestic disorderly conducts and similar conflicts have an identifiable, direct victim impacted by the harmful behavior. This includes current or former intimate partners as well as family members. Restorative justice additionally identifies indirect victims or individuals involved who are impacted by the harm or situation in the “ripple effect”. Victim advocates and community stakeholders are involved in the process to address the harm in related or similar situations.
At a Victim Empathy session, participants address the original incident for their referral to Restorative Justice. While charges may be plead down or dropped, Restorative Justice asks for accountability for past behavior and recognition of choices that were made. By looking at the incident itself, participants can reflect on alternatives to risky or harmful behavior. This leads the group to work on their commitment or restorative agreement.
Groups frequently address special concerns within the session, based on the needs of the participants. Issues include:
- Anger and impulsive behavior
- Personal responsibility
- Jealousy and entitlement
- Guilt and self-esteem
- Controlled substance and alcohol use
Sessions help participants move forward, focusing on personal responsibility. Participants have reflected:
Getting a different perspective helped me understand how it affects others.
Restorative Justice philosophies believe that accountability for past actions is more productive than guilt, which can cycle individuals into criminal and otherwise unhealthy behaviors. Instead of focusing on shame or discouragement from guilt, accountability asks us to answer to the community that is impacted by harmful or criminal behavior and fulfill the obligation of better, safer behavior moving forward. Responsibility requires an understanding of how our behavior impacts other human beings and recognizing that the behavior resulted from a choice that could have been made differently. This can help individuals to plan ahead and actively engage in the process of changing their behavior. A key component of Restorative Justice sessions is looking forward into the future and forming realistic goals.