Sexual Trauma and Abuse, Restorative and Transformative Possibilities
14 November 2014
03T10:00:11Z May 2017
In 2009 as part of an Irish NGO, Facing Forward, whose aim is to establish restorative justice in Ireland as a way of responding to crime, I proposed the idea of establishing a research project on restorative justice and sexual vio lence that would ‘begin a national conversation’ as well as privilege the voices of those whose lives had been most affected by sexual trauma and sexual crime. This paper tells the story of that research, from its beginnings to its end, and it presents the research findings. A low budget project, the research has drawn upon 2000 voluntary hours of researchers’ time and nine months of full time work by six graduate interns working on a government funded jobBridge programme. The most important decision made a long the research journey was to invite a survivor of sexual violence to be the Research Consultant. A lack was the decision not to invite a former offender into a similar role. Three questions guided the project as we inquired into the unmet needs of vict im/survivors and offenders following their involvement in criminal justice, civil justice and other therapy and justice systems; the need for a restorative justice programme in the aftermath of sexual violence in Ireland, and the perspective of the partici pants on the specifics of a restorative programme design. One hundred and fifty three two - to - three hour qualitative interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed with twenty nine victim survivors, twenty three offenders, in custodial and community set tings, the families of both, judges and legal professionals, police officers, probation officers, therapists, mediators, NGOs for victims and offenders, senior politicians and print and broadcast media. The analysis of these data forms the basis of the pap er. The outcome of the research is clear: there are many unmet needs of victim survivors and offenders following their involvement in criminal justice and other systems and there is a need for restorative justice in the aftermath of sexual crime in Ireland . However, in building such a programme that is informed by the international literature but based on the views of the key actors, professionals have much to learn. This paper offers their perspective.
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Exploring the Potential of Restorative Justice for Sexual Violence, Leuven, Belgium, 12-14 November 2014
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