Indirect Restorative Justice Following Sexual Assault
A victim’s father-in-law sexually assaulted her during a family event. The offender pleaded guilty to the offence, received a 12 month community order and was placed on the sex offenders register for 5 years.
At our initial meeting with the victim she expressed that she was keen to have a face-to-face direct process with the offender and his wife. The victim wanted to share the significant impact the incident had on her. She also wanted to know if the offender accepted responsibility for what he had done and whether he was genuinely sorry.
The offender lived out of county so we travelled to meet him for our initial visit. He listened to the impact the offence had on the victim and took full responsibility. He consented for us to share with the victim that he took responsibility and knew that what he did was wrong.
The victim was not convinced that the offender was genuinely remorseful for what happened. She felt that she was being left out of wider family events and being punished for making the disclosure to the police. She wanted to ask the offender if he really understood the impact the incident had on her, or whether he just blamed her reaction to the incident on her personality disorder.
The offender reiterated that he was genuinely remorseful for what happened. He and his wife felt they couldn’t be responsible for the reactions from the rest of the family. They stated that they didn’t blame the personality disorder but they also needed time to understand it better because they hadn’t known about the disorder for long. The victim agreed to share more about her personality disorder with the family if that would help.
In our final meeting with the victim she felt that the process had gone as far as she would like it to, deciding she didn’t need a face-to-face meeting with the offender. The victim felt she had held the offender to account for his actions during the Indirect Restorative Process and was satisfied.
As part of an Outcome Agreement delivered through the indirect process, the victim and offender agreed to focus on moving family relationships forward in a positive way and for the offender to moderate his drinking when in the victim’s company.
The victim gave the following feedback, “Simon and Liz were extremely approachable and very impartial. They made me feel very at ease and very listened to. It has got myself and the person who caused the harm and the people around them to a much better place but that is solely down to Simon and Liz. Before this process it was a massive mess and in an unrepairable state. I am 100% satisfied. I just want to thank them (the facilitators) so much for their hard work that has enabled me to move on so far with this and without this process I would not be where I am today with everyone”.
The offender gave the following feedback “Thanks Liz and Simon for all your endeavours”.