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Domestic Violence Surrogate Dialogue

Mar 22, 2010

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.


Each participant:

  1. Must be embedded in counseling and have a scheduled plan to continue their counseling after the program;

  2. Must be referred to the program by their counselor; and

  3. Has the choice of either their counselor or a different approved support person attend each session with them.

Counselors of the proposed surrogates discuss in detail the domestic violence circumstances and history of their clients with the survivor or offender coordinator to determine if they would be good candidates to participate with each other in a dialogue session. Further, they ensure that the participants have no previous relationship with the survivors and offenders involved in both cases.


Washington County Community Corrections (WCCC), located within the Washington County Courthouse, Hillsboro, Oregon, provides a meeting site for all DVSD events.

Program Design

  • Prior to the dialogue sessions, all participants sign informed consent waivers authorizing audio taping of the dialogue.

  • Participants enter WCCC through metal detector screens. Offenders do not leave the meeting room until the survivor has exited the building, and participants may request security guard escorts to their vehicles following the sessions.

  • At the outset, the male and female facilitator interview the survivor and her counselor/support person to assess her readiness to proceed and to answer any last minute questions regarding the upcoming session, the environment, etc.

  • A subsequent, separate interview is then conducted with the offender and his counselor/support person.

  • Sessions participants are the male/female facilitator team, a victim and an offender and their counselors/support persons. The conversations are audio taped and averaged two to three hours.

  • Immediately following the dialogue, the male and female facilitators separately interview the survivor and the offender to learn their initial reactions to their experiences.

  • The audio tapes with the survivor and offender provide essential tools in "follow-up" counseling sessions - the tapes are for counseling and training purposes only.

  • "Follow-up" counseling sessions are required.

Visit their website.


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