Using restorative approaches for sexual and domestic abuse: A personal choice

Published: Thursday, September 30th, 2021

Using restorative approaches for domestic and sexual abuse: A personal choiceWhy me? have published a new paper – Using restorative approaches for domestic and sexual abuse: A personal choice


This builds on academic research, the testimony of Why me? ambassadors, and existing good practice to unpick the benefits, concerns and best practice for using restorative approaches in cases of domestic and sexual abuse. 


If you have heard from survivors who have benefited from Restorative Justice, you cannot fail to feel moved. 


It was the beginning of the rest of Lucy’s life.


It was the key that unlocked Janika’s future.


It allowed Rosalyn to regain her sense of power and control.


It made Wendy feel like a totally different person.


It gave Teresa a different picture of herself, which benefits her whole life. 


In a world where survivors of sexual and domestic abuse are so often silenced, doubted and retraumatised, Restorative Justice can make them feel empowered, listened to and able to move forward. This is too big a prize to set aside because it is too challenging or complicated. Every survivor should be able to speak to a restorative provider if they want to.


However, using restorative approaches for sexual and domestic abuse should not be taken lightly. The risks to the physical and emotional safety of participants need to be considered and managed by restorative facilitators alongside specialists in sexual and domestic abuse. Communicating with the perpetrator won’t be possible or practical for everyone, and it is important to manage expectations so that people know what to expect from the process. While restorative providers across the country do fantastic work with people affected by a wide range of crimes, there is not always the expertise needed to handle sexual and domestic abuse – as these offences require specialist knowledge and understanding of subjects such as coercive control and consent. This needs to change so that more people who were harmed can get the support that they need.


We are calling on the Government to fund training of restorative facilitators; ensure restorative services are available to anyone affected by crime; and empower more survivors to experience the benefits that our ambassadors have shared. 


Why me? are holding an online seminar on November 25th to share the findings of this work, discuss best practice, hear from survivors directly and facilitate conversations about the benefits and challenges of working restoratively in cases of sexual and domestic abuse.

RSVP for our seminar: Working restoratively with cases of domestic and sexual abuse.

Download our paper Using restorative approaches for domestic and sexual abuse: A personal choice.

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