Source: (2009) Acta Criminologica. 22(1):15-24.

This article highlights the value of restorative justice in minimizing the effects of child sexual abuse and how to apply it to respect the specific needs of the survivor of sexual abuse. As sexual abuse affects the child on a short, as well as on a long term basis, professionals need to explore any possible means to minimize these effects. This article discusses the value of restorative justice in supporting the healing process of a child exposed to incest. Restorative justice has been defined as a philosophy and an approach to deal with the effects of crime, viewing crime as a violation of people and relationships. The purpose of restorative justice is to heal those relationships by identifying the needs, responsibilities and obligations with the victim and the offender, together, along with the State and community. After taking into account the effects of incest on the lives of survivors, the question asked is how restorative justice as an approach during the legal process can contribute to the healing of the survivor. Through the use of restorative justice, the following needs of the victim can be addressed: regaining self power and self acceptance, letting go of guilt feelings, establishing their innocence as children, regaining the right to make decisions, regaining trust in others, and establishing personal boundaries. Time does not cure the effects of sexual abuse on children but rather the way their healing process was facilitated. More research needs to be conducted regarding restorative justice as an approach to cases of sexual abuse. (Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov).