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Sexual Violence and Abuse

Few crimes have more power to produce profound injury to victims or outrage and fear in communities than sexual violence. These articles and resources address the use of restorative justice with sexual violence and abuse victims and perpetrators.

Sex offender project in limbo amid funding flap
from The Canadian Press article published on A program that helps keep convicted sex offenders from committing more crimes is in limbo after being told its funding request has been rejected by the federal government. But a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said Monday that no decisions have been made. Andrew McWhinnie, head of Circles of Support and Accountability, said he was personally informed of the rejection last Friday by Robert Cormier of the National Crime Prevention Centre, which falls under Van Loan's ministry. It's the first time the circles program, a Canadian community-based group that has been copied internationally, has sought major federal funds.
Restorative justice urged to deal with sexual crimes
from Fiona Gartland's article in The criminal justice system is not suitable for addressing most sexual crimes, the director of abuse victims’ charity One in Four has said. Speaking at the Children At Risk in Ireland (Cari) 20th anniversary conference in Dublin, Maeve Lewis said restorative justice must be explored as a way of dealing with sex offenders.
Let's talk about global exploitation
from It seems that most people I dialogue with about this reality agree that conditions such as Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE), the CSE of children, human trafficking, and debt bondage, are intolerable; yet, these and so many other atrocities persist and even flourish at the global level. All types of organizations exist that are dealing with the different types of global exploitation, some may have specific focus on certain types of exploitation or certain areas of the world while others may deal with the problem more broadly. What is clear in all aspects of this type of work is that it requires you to be involved. Oftentimes, people start hearing the stories of survivors, understanding the secrets behind the trades, and realizing how horrific the reality of global exploitation really is, and it just becomes overwhelming, so overwhelming that paralysis hits and no action is taken, especially when it sinks in just how close to home it can hit. It should make you angry, even sad, but we want to channel that emotion into action not paralysis.
Healing a Man's Heart (male sex abuse)
Thomas Edward knows first-hand the emotional and physical pain associated with sexual abuse and neglect. He understands what it’s like to suffer in silence with [...]
Wright, Martin. 2000. Is mediation appropriate even for rape?, paper to International Conference on Restorative Justice, Winchester, 28-31 March 2000.
The aim of this article is to test the principles of restorative justice by applying them to very serious cases. It will consider mainly those cases where the victim and the offender are acquainted with each other, which are some nine out of ten of reported cases (45 per cent acquaintances, 43 per cent intimates, in a Home Office study of 483 cases: Harris and Grace 1999: 6). This category largely overlaps with ‘simple rape’, where there are no aggravating circumstances such as violence, several assailants, or rape of a complete stranger (Goolsby 1990: 1183). Given the well known failings of the criminal justice system, especially in regard to victims of rape, should restorative justice be considered not as a supplement but as an alternative to the system? Very serious types of sexual offence will not be included, such as violent rape by a stranger, where if the man is convicted there is no question of anything but a custodial sentence, but most would agree that there should be a procedure in place for a woman to ask to make contact with him at a later stage, so that she can rid herself of her nightmares, as in the examples to be given later. This can also increase the man’s understanding of the seriousness of what he did, which will assist the treatment programme which should be available in prison. Nor will the question of child sexual abuse be considered here, although this too can be dealt with in a restorative way (Yantzi, 1998; Church Council 1996). (excerpt)
Community Justice Initiatives helps male sex abuse survivors, and offenders
From Johanna Weidner's article on Just like female victims, male victims of sexual trauma struggle to heal, but there are many more barriers for men to get the help they need. For people who have perpetrated sexual crimes, finding help is perhaps even more difficult. Supporting those people who are overlooked, and often condemned, is a mission at Community Justice Initiatives.
Rape and restorative justice
from Kameelah Rasheed's entry on WireTap Magazine's blog: On July 16 in Phoenix, Arizona, four boys ages 9 to 14 took turns raping an 8-year-old girl for more than 10 minutes after luring her into a shed with chewing gum. They held her down. They raped her repeatedly as she screamed — "hysterical" screams that prompted an emergency call. When officers arrived on the scene, they found the girl partially clothed and the boys running from the shed. The girl as well as her four rapists are refugees from Liberia in West Africa. The country is struggling to emerge from it's 14 year civil war, which lasted from 1989 to 2003. During the conflict rape was used as a weapon resulting in as many as three-fourths of women being assaulted. The civil war forced more than 7,300 Liberians to seek refuge in the United States. One such community of refugees resettled in Arizona which is now home to nearly 1,200 Liberian refugees. As one reporter noted, Liberian refugees who have fled the war-torn nation say the Phoenix case is a horrifying example of families trying to escape violence in their own country only to find it again in their new home.
One step among many
from the No To Rape Blog: The abolition of marital immunity for rape will not resolve all issues relating to marital rape. Far from it. Many other interventions are needed. Counselling, mediation, medical help and the civil law all have a part to play in responding to incidents, and education and a wider national conversation are needed to build a culture where all are conscious of the importance of seeking and communicating consent when engaging in sexual activity.
Restorative justice and child sex offences: The theory and the practice.
This article has sought to highlight the limitations associated with using restorative justice for child sex offences. The major concern is that restorative justice will be unable to defuse the power relationship between victim and offender and will re-traumatize victims compared with recent criminal justice reforms that are designed to ensure that vulnerable victims do not have face-to-face contact with offenders.
New DVD "The Healing Circle" addresses clergy sexual abuse
From the Marquette University Law School Restorative Justice Initiative (MULS RJI). MULS RJI has released a restorative justice clergy abuse documentary called "The Healing Circle." Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice and Distinguished Professor of Law Janine P. Geske narrates the film, which brings the viewer into a circle focusing on the ripple effect of harm because of the abuse scandal.
Kim Workman: My first experience with restorative justice
I have often wondered what restorative justice practitioners would have thought of the process. While much of what happened was culturally appropriate, it may well have been unacceptable in a western setting. The victim, as far as I could determine, did not seem to be traumatised by sharing her story and innermost feelings with the community - nor was she subsequently stigmatised by the villagers as a victim of incest. The penalty was quite severe, and yet at the end of the process, there was provision for reconciliation and full community restoration.
Sexual Violence Research Initiative's restorative justice page
From the Initiative's website: Across the world, only a tiny proportion of survivors/victims of sexual violence ever see their rapist punished. There is increasing awareness that the requirements of legal proceedings are often in conflict with the needs of sexual violence survivors/victims. Experiences of the adversarial court processes post-sexual violence are often traumatic, requiring the survivor/victim to confront their assailant, to defend their case and re-live the experience.
Koss, Mary P. and Williamsen, Kaaren M. and Wilgus, Jay K.. Campus sexual misconduct: Restorative justice approaches to enhance cmpliance with Title IX guidance.
Campus response to sexual violence is increasingly governed by federal law and administrative guidance such as the 1972 Title IX, the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), and the 2013 Violence Against Women Act. Educational institutions are directed to expand disciplinary responses and establish coordinated action to eliminate sexual violence and remedy its effects. Compliance fosters a quasi-criminal justice approach not suited to all sexual misconduct and inconsistent with developing practice in student conduct management. This article envisions restorative justice (RJ) enhancements to traditional student conduct processes that maintain compliance, expand options, empower victim choice, and increase responsiveness to DCL aims. The article (1) defines sexual violence and sexual harassment within the DCL scope, (2) elaborates the DCL position on permissible alternative resolutions and differentiates mediation from RJ, (3) sequences action steps from case report to finalization, including both restorative and traditional justice pathways; and (4) discusses building support for innovation beginning with existing campus response. (author's abstract)
Carlson, Carolyn and Hopkins, C. Quince and Bachar, Karen J and Koss, Mary. Expanding a Community’s Justice Response to Sex Crimes Through Advocacy, Prosecutorial, and Public Health Collaboration: Introducing the RESTORE Program
Problems in criminal justice system response to date-acquaintance rape and nonpenetration sexual offenses include (a) they are markers of a sexual offending career, yet are viewed as minor; (b) perpetrators are not held accountable in ways that reduce reoffense; and (c) criminal justice response disappoints and traumatizes victims. To address these problems, a collaboration of victim services, prosecutors, legal scholars, and public health professionals are implementing and evaluating RESTORE, a victim-driven, community-based restorative justice program for selected sex crimes. RESTORE prepares survivors, responsible persons (offenders), and both parties’ families and friends for face-to-face dialogue to identify the harm and develop a redress plan. The programthen monitors the offender’s compliance for 12 months. The article summarizes empirical data on problems in criminal justice response, defines restorative justice models, and examines outcome. Then the RESTORE program processes and goals are described. The article highlights community collaboration in building and sustaining this program. Authors' abstract.
Hodak, Kerry M. Court Sanctioned Mediation in Cases of Acquaintance Rape: A Beneficial Alternative to Traditional Prosecution
Rape is a devastating physical and psychological assault on a female. Although it is prevalent, the criminal justice system in the United States is not equipped to address incidents of rape, asserts Kerry Hodak. Many incidents are not reported, and many of those that are reported are not successfully prosecuted. Incorporating mediation for rape cases into the criminal justice system offers the prospect of more victims reporting the crime and more perpetrators being brought to justice and receiving rehabilitative care. To explore this prospect, Hodak examines the current context of rape and sexual assault, restorative justice as an alternative to traditional prosecution, and court sanctioned victim-offender mediation for cases of acquaintance rape.
Bailey, Susan. Young offenders and mental health
Antisocial behaviour and mental illness in adulthood place a high social and financial burden on societies. Rapidly developing knowledge base about both, whether the natural history, overlap, or the increasingly promising findings of evidence based results from prevention, early and late intervention programmes, delivered to children and adolescents, in the context of family, community and institutions, can reduce the context of family, community and institutions, can reduce the review.(Excerpt). The article also contains a brief discussion on the use of restorative justice programmes with juvenile sexual offenders.
Parsons, Diana. The Sexual Abuse of Children: "Spirit Murdering"
This thesis compares and contrasts the current legal protections provided to sexually abused, non-Aboriginal children with that afforded to the Aboriginal children of Canada. In Part I, the main findings and recommendations of the Badgley Committee and the federal government’s subsequent enactment of Bill C-15 are examined. In Part II, the inequities which Aboriginal people have suffered as a result of the imposed circuit court system are discussed. As background to a discussion of alternative Aboriginal justice systems, a critique is provided on the case of R. v. Moses, [1992] 3 C.N.L.R 116 in which the first sentencing circle was used. A description and critical analysis of various Aboriginal justice projects across Canada are provided. The author has made recommendations to revise the rules of evidence and procedure regarding child sexual abuse victims and to provide protection to women and children living in Aboriginal communities. Author's abstract.
Lawrence, Phyllis Turner. Child Protection Act 2001. Testimony prepared for the Crime Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee
This document contains the testimony of Phyllis Turner Lawrence before the Crime Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on H.R. 2146, the "Two Strikes and You're Out Child Protection Act 2001." This proposed legislation sought mandatory life sentences for repeat offenders of sex crimes against children. A consultant on restorative justice, Lawrence testified as a victim of sexual assault, an advocate for finding ways to support victims and to hold offenders accountable, and a former practicing attorney. She related her own experiences as a victim and as a victim advocate to the proposed legislation. In sum, she cautioned against the legislation on grounds that it really would not help victims, nor would it hold offenders accountable or assist them to rehabilitate.
Berns, Lois and Van Wormer, Katherine. The Impact of Priest Sexual Abuse: Female Survivors’ Narratives
This article explores the effect of priests’ sexual abuse on victimized girls and young women. The data were obtained from in-depth interviews with women who were seeking help years after the violation. The results revealed the following themes: the loss of innocence, a period of self-blame, the loss of religious faith, immense pressure to maintain silence, recognition of the imbalance of power, and healing through outside help. The contribution of the principles of restorative justice to victims’ healing is described. Author's abstract.
Curtis-Fawley, Sarah and Daly, Kathleen. Justice for Victims of Sexual Assault: Court or Conference?
In this article, we describe in detail two sexual assault cases that were diverted to conference. Both cases had youthful male offenders (17 at the time of the offense) and female victims (12 and 13), and both were finalized by a family conference in South Australia. In a conference, an admitted offender, victim (or victim representative), their supporters, and other relevant parties, along with a police officer and a facilitator meet to discuss the offense, why it came about, how it affected the victim and others, and to decide on a penalty. We shall document the victims’ experiences with the police and the conference process, what they hoped would happen at the conference, and what did occur in their face-to-face encounter with the offender. Along with the girls’ views are the facilitators’ thoughts on the case, their concerns in planning and running the conference, and their opinions of the conference dynamics and its benefits (or not) for the victim. The two cases were drawn from an in-depth study of 14 sexual and family violence cases finalized by a conference in the second half of 2001. Joined with the in-depth study is our archival analysis of 387 sexual offenses involving youthful offenders and finalized over a 6.5 year period (1995 to mid-year 2001) by formal caution, conference, or in the Youth Court in South Australia. From the archival study, we can compare the legal journey and outcomes of court and conference cases; and with the in-depth study, we can explore the aftermath of crime and conference dynamics largely, although not exclusively, from the viewpoint of victims. Ours is the first study to shed light on the potential and limits of court versus conference processes for victims of sexual violence. Before presenting the cases, we review what happens in the criminal justice system in response to sexual assault, and what is known about victims’ experiences with the legal process. (excerpt)

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