“How Restorative Justice gave me a new sense of direction”

Published: Friday, September 1st, 2023

This is a blog by our Communications and Events Volunteer, Bryony Hutt.


I have recently joined Why me? as a volunteer and am very excited at the opportunity to learn more about Restorative Justice. 

After over a decade working in humanitarian aid, two ground-shaking events led me to take a pause and redirect my career. First, the 2020 Black Lives Matter uprisings raised existential questions for the aid sector. This opened my eyes to problematic racial hierarchies within my work and prompted me to address my own white saviour tendencies. Soon after these reflections, my sense of self was rocked again. This time by memories of sexual violence which resurfaced after many years of denial. I took extended time off work, eventually opting to take voluntary redundancy and allow myself the space to focus on my healing. 

This time off enabled me to re-evaluate my priorities, both in my personal life and in my career. As I did, the concept of Restorative Justice kept cropping up. Whether reading books by Black abolitionists such as Angela Davis or listening to podcasts by survivors of abuse, I began to get a deeper sense of this approach to healing and accountability. And I loved it!

Like many survivors, I feel personally let down by punitive models of justice. With police violence increasingly in the media spotlight, it’s hard to ignore the evidence that the current system perpetuates more violence than it prevents. Healing appears irrelevant in a system that directs meagre resources to rehabilitation and victim support.

This is where I believe Restorative Justice gets it right. It creates a space for healing, whether you’re the person who was harmed or the person who caused the harm. This seems a much more logical route to reducing harm in society. As someone who has suffered much at the hands of others, I now feel heavily invested in such work.

From October, I will be undertaking a Masters programme in Criminology at Birkbeck College, with a view to exploring the history and debates around questions of justice. The opportunity to work with Why me? is enabling me to ground this academic study in an understanding of restorative practice across the UK. I am already relishing the opportunity to hear from practitioners through the forums and networks facilitated by Why me? I’m also excited by the work being done to prove the validity of Restorative Justice as a response to wide-ranging harms, from hate speech to domestic violence. 

There is so much potential when it comes to Restorative Justice. I’m very grateful to be playing a small role in advocating for that!

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