Our Victim Centred Approach to Restorative Justice
One of the things that makes restorative justice unique is that our first consideration is for the victim, as the person most directly harmed by the offender’s actions. We call this being “victim-centred.” No one deserves to be hurt by crime and violence, so our first concern is for victims and their recovery from the harm they have experienced. We can assist victims by offering them a justice approach that is empowering, compassionate, and responsive to their needs. We can also assist them in connecting with other agencies and resources that can further aid them in coping. We see victims as being “in the driver’s seat” in terms of our time with them, as they are the experts about where they are at and where they want to go.
For those who have caused harm, restorative justice represents an opportunity for them to hold themselves accountable to the people they have hurt, to explain their actions in a supportive and respectful environment, and to take meaningful and tangible steps to make things right and address the needs that have been created by their crime.
Those who become involved with us in order to support the victim or the offender in the restorative justice process, such as family, friends, and service providers, have a unique role to play in this “victim-centred” work. In addition to providing important emotional support in the aftermath of the crime, not only can they speak to the importance of bringing focus and understanding to the needs of the people who have been victimized, but they also provide guidance on how to address the underlying factors or causes of the crime in collaboration with the offender, with the goal of ensuring that they don’t engage in such behaviours in the future.