Journey Beyond Abuse

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Journey Beyond Abuse

Penticton and Area, CanadaPenticton, Canada
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Journey Beyond Abuse: Mediation Services for Victims and Offenders in Violent Relationships are an underutilized option for resolving conflict between partners

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

While traditional violence prevention and intervention programs serve a purpose, they have not been effective at ending or preventing violence in relatioships completely. Time and time again, clients at our agency who are victims of abuse or assault, return with more abuse issues at a later time. Individual counselling and court accompaniment are important pieces for someone who has been traumatized by abuse or assault. However, these pieces only address part of the dynamics. Also the court system does not provide the victim a voice to express what she/he truly has experienced, not to mention control over the outcome of the proceedings. As a result the victim is retraumatized by the court system. This hardly represents access to justice. Offenders are not being heard effectively either.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We propose to include victim-offender mediation services, in the interventions available to our clients, victims and offenders of relationship violence. It is our believe that a strong solution to violence in relatioship prevention will include mediation services "to maximize victim safety and choice, and create opportunities for offenders to reflect on their actions and make new choices" (Edwards, A. and Haslett, J. 2012) As clients enter our Victim Assistance Program or our Men's Counselling or Women's Counselling program the worker will assess if the client's situation is suitable for victim offender mediation. The option will then be introduced to the client with detailed explanations and descriptions of what mediation will entail. The ultimate goal in these mediation session will be an increase in the victim's safety.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

When a person who has experienced abuse approaches our agency for services, we will outline all the options for service available to her or him. Together with the intake worker the client will then choose if she/he wants to engage in a mediation session with the offender. This may happen after the court case is closed or while the parties are on a peace bond. If the client(s) are deemed appropriate candidates and willing to engage in mediation sessions, both will receive pre-mediation preparation possibly by two co-mediators, which will outline the mediation process to them, their responsibilities and general possible outcomes. Once the parties are engaged in the mediation process, the mediator(s) will assess if victim and offender can meet in the same room. If not the sessions will take place separately. The victim will have a chance to make her/his opening statement outlining her/his position. After taking in the victim's opening statement, the offender will have her/his turn to make her/his opening statement. Opening statements will include the parties' positions and their version of what happened. The mediator will then carefully move the parties from discussing positions to discussing their interests and specifically their shared interests: safety, acceptance, and possibly forgiveness.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

SOVAS is the only community-based Victim Assistance program in the South Okanagan. There are two lawyers in the area who offer mediation services, but not victim offender mediation. As far as we are aware, there is no service for victim offender mediation in violent relationships in the area.

Founding Story

Historically victim offender mediation in violent relationships has been deemed inappropriate with no exceptions. However, in a course of mediation, which I took as part of my MSW, I found some, albeit very few, articles supporting the idea under certain circumstances. The most compelling case I came across was about a woman whose son was killed by a man who was subsequently jailed. After many counselling sessions for both the mother and the offender, they met with two mediators. The mediation session brought some closure to the mother, as she had many questions which could not be addressed through the court process. The offender was able to take direct responsibility for the horrific crime. Working at SOVAS I witness over and over how victims and offenders are ill served by our justice system. Having read more about mediation services for victims and offenders, I feel strongly about providing mediation as oan option to our clients on their journey beyond abuse.