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Lois Presser and Emily Gaarder

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Can Restorative Justice Reduce Battering? Some Preliminary Considerations

Authors Lois Presser and Emily Gaarder discuss the seemingly intractable problem of domestic violence in the United States. The article details how two dominant strategies used to address domestic violence against women, the legal model and the mediation model, may undermine the victim’s power to act. They fail to target the social isolation of the battering victim and offender and leave intact the social norms that support the battering of women. In recent years, however, the restorative justice movement has introduced new variations on mediation. These interventions promise social justice through healing encounters between victims and offenders, sponsored by community members. The authors believe that community interventions may be preferable to formal justice in addressing race, class, and cultural concerns. Moreover, this approach is strikingly similar to one described by Sanford as truth-telling with respect to the violence experienced by Maya women in Guatemala: healing for the victim involves the opportunity for story-telling in a forum that encourages the telling and validates the story. Public acknowledgment is essential for the ultimate resolution of the trauma; victims need to hear that they have been hurt unjustifiably.

crime; restorative justice — battered women — feminism — mediation; violence — violence against women

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 27, No. 1 (2000): 175-195