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  • Andrew Robinson

Use of Restorative Practice in Gendered Violence

Restorative practices, with their roots in restorative justice, offer a framework for repairing harm and rebuilding relationships in the aftermath of conflict or crime. In the context of domestic and family violence, these practices can provide a transformative approach, addressing the harm caused and fostering healing for all involved. While the application of restorative practices in such sensitive contexts must be approached with caution, understanding, and a survivor-centered perspective, it holds the potential to contribute significantly to the healing process for survivors, offenders, and communities.

The Principles of Restorative Practices

Restorative practices are based on principles that emphasize healing, accountability, and the restoration of relationships. They seek to go beyond punishment, focusing on the needs of the survivors, the accountability of the offenders, and the involvement of the community in creating solutions that repair harm and prevent future violence. This approach encourages open communication, mutual understanding, and empathy, promoting a supportive environment where healing can begin.

Addressing Harm and Promoting Healing

For survivors of domestic and family violence, restorative practices offer a platform to voice their experiences, feelings, and needs in a safe and supportive environment. This process can empower survivors, providing them with a sense of control and involvement in their healing journey. It allows them to articulate the impact of the violence on their lives and what they need to move forward, which is a critical step in the healing process.

Fostering Accountability

One of the fundamental aspects of restorative practices is the focus on the accountability of the offender. It encourages individuals who have perpetrated violence to acknowledge their actions, understand the impact of their behavior on the survivor and the wider community, and take responsibility. This process is vital for the offender's rehabilitation and for preventing recidivism, as it can lead to a deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of their actions, fostering empathy and a commitment to change.

Rebuilding Relationships

Domestic and family violence often results in broken relationships, not only between the survivor and the offender but also within the wider family and community. Restorative practices offer pathways to rebuild trust and relationships through dialogue, mutual understanding, and shared agreements on future behavior. While not all relationships should or can be restored, especially in cases where ongoing safety concerns exist, the process can help in clarifying boundaries, establishing respect, and healing community divisions.

Community Involvement

Restorative practices involve the community in the healing process, recognizing that domestic and family violence affects not only the individuals directly involved but also the wider social network. Community participation can provide support to survivors, hold offenders accountable, and create a collective responsibility for addressing and preventing violence. This collective approach can lead to stronger, more supportive community networks that protect against future violence.

Implementation with Caution

The application of restorative practices in cases of domestic and family violence requires careful consideration and a framework that prioritizes the safety and well-being of survivors. Professionals facilitating restorative processes must be trained in dealing with the complexities of domestic violence, including power imbalances and the potential for coercion. Participation must be voluntary, and the process should be survivor-centered, ensuring that it does not re-traumatize the survivor or expose them to further harm.


Restorative practices hold promise as a part of a comprehensive approach to addressing domestic and family violence, offering a path toward healing, accountability, and the restoration of relationships. By focusing on the needs of survivors, encouraging the accountability of offenders, and involving the community, these practices can contribute to a culture of respect, empathy, and non-violence. However, their implementation must be handled with care, expertise, and a deep commitment to the safety and empowerment of survivors. As society continues to grapple with the pervasive issue of domestic and family violence, exploring and adopting restorative practices can be an important step forward in healing individuals and communities alike.

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