Preconditions and preventing secondary victimization

In the previous parts you have read that an RJ procedure is based on several principles and values. As a facilitator of a RJ procedure it is important to work in line with these principles. There are a few preconditions that need to be met when you work with RJ to prevent secondary victimization.

Secondary victimization
Secondary victimisation is “the victimisation that occurs not as a direct result of the criminal act but through the response of institutions and individuals to the victim”. Secondary victimization can appear in many forms and also during the RJ process. While restorative justice has advantages for victims, there is a risk of secondary victimization. Offenders could exacerbate the victim’s trauma in case victim and offender meet each other. It is important for the faciliator to be aware of this risk and being able to minimalize it so the victim is able to actually restore from the crime.

Features of an RJ procedure
In order to facilitate an effective restorative practice and to prevent secondary victimization, there are a few features that need to be met working with a restorative apprach:

  • There needs to be an identifiable victim and offender;
  • The facilitator needs to be impartial;
  • The facilitator ensures safety for all participants;
  • Holds the victims’ involvement as central;
  • The facilitator needs to be appropriately trained;
  • All parties need to be informed well about the procedure so they are capable of making an informed choice to participate;
  • The victim ánd the offender must be willing to participate, the process must be joined voluntarily;
  • The perpetrator needs to accept responsibility for the crime;
  • Participation is not evidence of guilt;
  • All participants need to be thoroughly prepared. This means that a facilitator also needs to be well prepared. It is recommended that the facilitator has spoken to both parties before they meet each other;
  • It is important to acknowledge that all views are important;
  • In case any solutions have been found, all parties need to agree on those;
  • In case an agreement has been made, these should be voluntarily and reasonable;
  • The condifentiality of proceedings needs to be guaranteed.