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Survivors’ Stories, and Why They Want Access to RJ

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

Survivor A:

‘I want to try and have my voice for people like me, who have experienced childhood sexual abuse and also adult sexual violence. My motivation for Restorative Justice is absolutely connected with my experience of childhood sexual abuse. The person who harmed me was my sibling, and these kinds of things are not talked about. They're not talked about. I felt like I've had a gag over my mouth my whole life, basically. And I get met with silence. Sharing a bit of my story yesterday on Reporting Scotland and the other week in the report, going out, and getting met with silence again about my experiences. And so it's complex and of course, my whole family are involved or not involved. Family secrets are very difficult to navigate. And part of my life was lost back when my brother did what he did to me.

I would absolutely welcome the opportunity to go through a restorative justice process with my brother because the echoes of that kind of harm mean my whole life has been affected, and I continue to live with that and try to heal. And I would never have gone anywhere near the legal justice system. Part of me still protects my brother. I don't want him to go to jail, so that was not justice for me, [as well as] protecting my mother and father. There's so many layers to this stuff, so to be able to sit down with my brother in a voluntary capacity and go through a process where I can actually feel like I have a platform to let him know exactly the harm that he caused, and to help me restore some dignity and some freedom, because I don't get to live my life free. I'm constrained everywhere I go, I have to keep secrets and it's painful. And so to have an opportunity to do this would be incredible and it would be life changing for me, I believe, so that's why I want to share.’

Survivor B:

‘I went through the justice system and my perpetrator is in prison now. I come from an Asian community and people like to talk, so obviously I went through that at quite a young age, and there's so much backlash. When I was going through it, nobody really knew. But as soon as they hit prison, I'm like a walking label of this one event and [...] it just shapes your entire life, what you go through just, everything: how you act with people, how you feel, you don't feel, essentially. [...] The thing that restorative justice, it's really important for the fact that it's compassionate, it's humane. You get to sit in a room and people understand you, and they give you time to speak, and they actually appreciate that you've gone through something really horrible and they're trying to help you. You don't get that in the justice system at any point beforehand [or] through it; they don't care. Everything is just about: “get the case to court, let's win the case, this one looks good, this one does it.” There's no care for your feelings, that's where the re-traumatisation comes from because we don't get anything. You're just a number.

‘[...] Then there’s the whole “hard on crime” and stuff like that. and I get that, that’s just how everybody is, but the public don’t get it. They just don't get it, and it makes me so angry, even the jury and [everyone else], they walk in and think: right, here's a case. But how long did it take to get to a courtroom? They don't understand, [and] if they are sitting on a bench then they're going to go “Not Proven” because they don't know.’

For survivors, RJ offers a compassionate alternative: not just for perpetrators, but more importantly, for themselves to move forward and heal.

To find out more about RJ services, please visit us at Join us in revolutionising justice outcomes for survivors, and giving them a voice where before they had none.

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