A Sexual Abuse Case
The Restorative Justice service received a referral from Sarah, via her Victim Liaison Officer. The offences, which were of a sexual nature, were committed by Sarah’s father, Donald and included 5 x Sexual Assault of Female Child aged under 13. There were also further victims who were in the same family as Sarah, including her children.
Donald had gone to Court and had been sentenced to 8 years in prison and given an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order. Whilst in prison, no specific offence focussed work had been undertaken as Donald had been assessed as unsuitable for any group work course, as at that time, there were high levels of denial. He admitted to some behaviour but could not remember certain elements. He had pleaded guilty at Court to avoid the family having to go through a trial. There was little acknowledgement or understanding around the impact of his offending.
Sarah wanted the opportunity to meet with her father to talk to him about the offences but most importantly to let him know the impact and consequences of his actions.
Donald agreed to meet with the Restorative Justice service and he agreed to explore Restorative Justice. Preparation work was undertaken with both parties, and this took a number of months. An indirect process of asking questions and taking responses back, as well as managing expectations, addressing needs and concerns were focused on.
Both Sarah and Donald agreed to a face to face meeting which was facilitated by 2 Restorative Justice facilitators. Sarah had the opportunity to ask questions and to explain how Donald’s actions had impacted on the whole family. Donald responded to the questions and apologised for what he did, Whilst Sarah did not want to hear an apology, she appreciated that he had offered one.
After the meeting, Sarah felt it had been a very positive experience, she described having a weight lifted, feeling stronger and more in a position of control having been able to fully articulate the devastation caused. Sarah felt that the offender (her father) listened, without interrupting during the four hour meeting and this was a massive shift for her as this had never occurred within the relationship. She felt the meeting had raised her father’s insight. He was starting to acknowledge the harm as well as re-iterating he was sorry.
Donald said he was satisfied with the meeting, and that he had hoped that Sarah had gained what she needed to from it.