Victim Empathy

Home / Victim Empathy

Referral-based session

Disorderly Conduct • Criminal Damage to Property • Trespassing • Theft • Criminal OWI • Shoplifting • Domestic Disorderly Conduct

A focused intervention session for addressing crime and conflict. Community stakeholders and advocates engage as surrogates for crime victims. Victim Empathy sessions provide education, awareness, self-assessment and strategies for positive behavior change. A general session is offered for disorderly or disruptive behavior and property crimes. Dependent on incoming referrals, special-topic sessions have been developed to address specific concerns. This includes focused Victim Empathy sessions for conflict between intimate partners and family members, retail theft, and criminal OWI offenses.

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. Victim Empathy sessions can be offered to divert low-level or first-time offenses, or as a part of an agreement or plan. Referred cases are screened by the SCVRJ staff.

Program Rating 98%
98% rated the session as good or excellent.

Victim Empathy sessions work with individuals referred for crime and conflict. This is a surrogate option when a direct victim is unable or unwilling to participate, or when direct victims have not been identified.

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.

Cases are screened by our staff for Restorative Justice services and the appropriate session(s) for the referred individual.

2017 Full Year Data

0% general
48% of participants are screened for a general session, addressing disorderly conducts and property crimes
0% males
31% females


0% change
96% report they will change some aspect of their behavior as a result of the session
0% Risk
believe the session will help them reduce risks

All data has been anonymously summarized from self-assessment forms completed at-will by session participants.

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.

In cases where there is a direct victim, we have estimated the type of relationship with the offender:

  • 28.7% current or former intimate partners
  • 10.4% family members
  • 14.8% local businesses
  • 46.1% other, predominantly friends, neighbors or other community members

At a Victim Empathy Seminar 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 both anger and alcohol as key topics in their group.

Based on 2016 referrals, participants were referred to SCV Restorative Justice for the following charges:

  • 46.9% Disorderly Conduct
  • 20.7% Criminal OWI
  • 16.6% Theft
  • 10.3% Battery
  • 6.9% Criminal Damage to Property
  • 9.7% Other, including resisting an officer, trespassing, etc.

Note: The above information is estimated. Over 20% of cases received have multiple charges. Some individuals may be referred to attend another type of session, frequently addressing alcohol or substance-using behaviors.

The session helps participants move forward responsibly. A participant at a June 2016 session reported, “This happened in December 2014 & not a day goes by that I don’t regret it.” Numerous participants have made similar statements. Restorative Justice philosophies believe that accountability for past actions is more productive than guilt, which can cycle individuals into criminal or 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 others 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.

For juveniles or first-time offenders, the Victim Empathy sessions aim to divert and address risks before a pattern of behavior develops or escalates.