….But violent crime – and, particularly, intimate partner violence – is another story. While it's certainly not impossible to use a restorative justice model for those crimes, it's trickier territory.

Intimate partner violence is often "forgiven" by the victim, and whitewashed by the community, especially if the perpetrator is regarded as a "good guy". Domestic abusers tend to be serially violent toward their partners, tend to escalate their assaults and tend to be manipulative. While most people profess disgust at domestic violence, in reality, abuse victims are often pressured to work on the relationship or told they must have done something to provoke the abuse.

Outsiders and even loved ones see the violence as a personal problem, not a crime. And domestic abuse is complicated by the fact that the victim often loves the perpetrator, often feels a sense of loyalty toward him, and is easily persuaded that he is indeed a good guy who just made a mistake, or has an anger problem, or simply loves her too much.

Restorative justice, like anything else, operates in an imperfect society and is carried out by imperfect actors. A community's own ideas about a crime like domestic violence will naturally influence the process.

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