Successful RJ – a victim’s view
Charlotte’s previous blog mentioned Margaret Foxley who met the man who burgled her home. Here Margaret explains what happened and why she considers the meeting to have had a very positive outcome
“My family and my home are the most precious things in my life. With my husband, I have worked extremely hard to provide a home which is loving, warm and comfortable for my family. Somewhere we can feel happy, safe and secure.
“Three years ago someone caused me to feel scared and nervous in my own home. He made my children and my husband feel worried about me returning home first, in the evening to an empty house. No one was particularly concerned about the things that had been taken; they were material things which formed part of an insurance claim. It was the fact that someone had felt it was their right to enter someone else’s home, break and smash what was in their way and take whatever they wanted.
“I believe that there has to be a reason behind everyone’s actions and not being able to try to discover what was in the person’s mind when he bashed my front door down was extremely frustrating. I needed to know why he chose our house, what he had touched , picked up, how long did he spend in each room, did he look at our happy family photographs? I wanted to tell him how angry I felt about having my privacy invaded.
“When our beautiful daughter was killed, six months later, I felt a greater need for some answers to my questions. At the time of the burglary, our daughter was more concerned with the reasons behind somebody breaking into a house and taking things for personal gain. She wanted to know what made a person do it and was more interested in helping and understanding rather than condemning.
“I knew when I was offered the chance of meeting with the man who burgled our home that I had to do it, even if it was simply to respect our daughter’s wishes.
“I was NOT wanting an apology. I wanted the meeting to be about ME, and the opportunity to tell him how he had made me feel and to receive some answers. We had lost things that he had taken, which meant so much more since our daughter’s death, and I needed to tell him how that felt.
“The meeting was about our family, our loss, our grief. I did not expect an apology; I did receive one, which was heart felt, genuine and not forced. Our meeting has made this person think about the effects of his actions on ordinary people and for the very first time he had to look his victim in the eye and read for himself the pain he had caused.
“This meeting was one hundred percent successful for me, the victim. I came away feeling I had received answers to all of my questions and that this person was no longer a mystery and above all, the fear had gone. I felt at peace with myself and could begin to enjoy my home again. I could have drawn a line under the whole thing as the RJ was completed and had given me my life back.
“The fact that the offender gained so much from our meeting and remained out of prison for two years, the longest period he’d ever spent without reoffending, and that we met frequently and began to get to know each other was a bonus as far as I was concerned. There is no doubt whatsoever that he learnt so much about himself and was able to try to understand some of the reasons for his actions and, more importantly, how his actions effected someone else’s life.
“When people, particularly from the media, question the success of my RJ in relation to the fact that the perpetrator reoffended, I have no hesitation in saying that this does not impact in the slightest. The RJ was about meeting my needs, answering my questions, allaying my fears and it did this, in a way that I would never have thought possible, from the moment I left the RJ conference in the prison. What followed was entirely positive but supplementary to the RJ conference.”