....Through her classes, Kimberly learned of and was eventually asked to speak on a panel for Domestic Violence Safe Dialogue (DVSD), a Portland nonprofit with a mission of allowing survivors to “speak to domestic violence offenders honestly” about their experiences. DVSD hosts Survivor Impact Panels (SIP) through two Portland-area counties. Survivors speak to a crowd of offenders at least 26 weeks into court-ordered therapy, discussing how domestic violence affected their lives. (They don’t know the offenders in the audience.) The men listen, then ask questions.
DVSD was founded in 2000 by Carrie Outhier Banks, a former domestic-violence-shelter worker with a Ph.D. in conflict analysis. The organization applies restorative justice to situations of intimate-partner violence—an idea that came to her after years hearing the women in the shelters wonder if they were at fault for their abuse. “You just keeping hearing over and over,‘I wish I could understand,’” she says.....
Some proponents of restorative justice believe it offers abused women an option that traditional law-enforcement techniques don’t. Mimi Kim has worked in women’s shelters across America, and in 2004 founded Creative Interventions, a San Francisco-based restorative-justice program, after becoming “ increasingly dissatisfied with the limitations of our response,” particularly a reliance on policing as the primary means of combating domestic violence, she says.
“This is a part of a larger movement led by people of color really demanding that we have a different response to gendered violence that isn’t so reliant on criminal justice,” she says. Although research has shown that African American women suffer disproportionately high rates of domestic violence, Kim explains, current movements like Black Lives Matter illustrate a lack of trust between communities of color and the police who are supposed to protect them. Restorative justice, she says, could provide another way.
Other proponents of restorative justice say it offers an alternative to the unilateral notion that a woman in an abusive relationship should always leave her partner, and that she’s at fault if she doesn’t. Sujatha Baliga, a former public defender and director of the Restorative Justice Project at Impact Justice, points to cases where abused women have had their children taken away: “We effectively replicated the violence of the batterer with the violence of the state.”