Rape victim tells her restorative justice story
Susan (not her real name) ‘felt fear and danger all around’ after becoming a victim of crime in York, and for more than a decade struggled to come to terms with what had happened, often dealing with feelings of low self-esteem and guilt.
After being referred to Remedi—an organisation which works in partnership with North Yorkshire Police Supporting Victims Service and funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire—work was done to help Susan identify what she needed from the restorative justice process; this was ultimately to face the offender, hear what he had to say and have her questions answered.
Susan said: “I had questions from the moment he pleaded guilty and I felt that the only person who could answer those was him, sadly back then I didn’t know about restorative justice.”
Upon walking into the thoroughly planned meeting, organised by Remedi staff, the perpetrator opened the dialogue with ‘I was a predator’. This came as a huge relief for Susan who still felt guilty and partly responsible for what had happened more than 10 years previous.
She added: “That shocked me because I had been preparing to think that I’d done something wrong, that I’d provoked him and then taken his life away by sending him to prison, instead I realised that he’d had meetings with Remedi, had gone through the probation service and realised that what he had done was wrong.
“To hear that he didn’t blame me was really pivotal. I walked out almost euphoric. I hadn’t realised that I’d been walking around very suspicious of people, and now I could walk out knowing that this person had been dealt with. It makes a difference every day, I feel so much lighter without carrying so much fear.”
To raise awareness of Restorative Justice Week, which runs from 19 to 26 November, Julia Mulligan, the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, who commissions Remedi to provide support to victims across the county, met with Susan to hear about her experience.
Julia said: “Susan is incredibly brave for going through this process, but I am glad to hear just how beneficial it has been for her. I have funded a restorative justice service for many years now, and every time I speak to someone who has been through the process they always have a positive story to tell.
“As well as supporting victims and helping them recover, there’s lots of evidence that it also makes the perpetrator think about the impact of what they’ve done, take responsibility and make amends.
“Restorative justice is an incredibly important and impactive process to be a part of and I’m really keen to make sure as many people know about it as possible. Please don’t be afraid to ask for it if you think it could be of benefit, just like it has been for Susan.”
Michelle Bailey, manager of Remedi in North Yorkshire, said: “We are extremely grateful that Julia supports this type of work. Remedi has the experience and skilled staff to be confident in being able to complete a restorative process that ensures the victims we work with gain exactly what they need from the process, which will always be Remedi’s ultimate aim.”
Anyone in North Yorkshire who has been a victim of crime and feels that they would benefit from the process should call Supporting Victims on 01609 643100.
The Woolf Within – Peter & Will’s story
Peter Woolf and Will Riley speak about their experience of restorative justice in this powerful short film.