Source: (2003) In, Elmar Weitekamp and Hans-Jurgen Kerner, eds. Restorative Justice in Context: International Practice and Directions.Devon, UK and Portland Oregon: Willan Publishing. Pp.51-79.

The question is posed whether criminal law and mediation can be helpful for women, the usual victims of violence in relationships. Police and prosecution take a passive stance against violence in partnerships and often react by diverting the criminal proceedings without consequences. But the latest studies show the disastrous effects that a violent atmosphere at home has on children, carrying the risk of future delinquent behavior, inadequate resolution of conflicts, and repeated victimization. The idea of mediation is an innovative one that might contain ways of responding to violence against partners as well as against strangers. New approaches have to be tried, such as regulating conflicts by victim-offender mediation, aiming to strengthen the weaker party in violent partnerships, or confronting the offender with the offense and the victim’s viewpoint without the victim necessarily having to attend the meetings. These new ideas should be pursued with the objective of improving the protection of the victim and preventing the conflict from escalating, as well as preventing future violence. There is also the idea of family group conferences and community group conferences. This concept uses the power of the pubic and the social milieu to ensure the protection of the victim and to avoid recidivism. The disadvantage of this idea is that a formal framework protecting constitutional rights is lacking. This may result in excessive reactions, false accusations, and self-administered justice. Not every case can be solved by mediation but the objective of criminal law--the restoration of peace under the law--demands that every effort be made to achieve a settlement of conflicts that protects the victim and prevents the offenders from recidivism. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.