Source: (2008) Thesis submitted for Master of Arts in Community Psychology. Wilfrid Laurier University.

Sexual abuse is a social phenomenon that adversely affects the lives of the victims, those who have offended and the surrounding community. It is an issue of public health, policy and justice. Currently, few research studies explore the ability of community agencies to support all persons affected by sexual abuse and even fewer studies examining the perspectives and experiences of individuals legt searching for remediation or healing. The Revive program, part of Community Justice Initiatives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada functions as a mutual-aid support group for persons affected by sexual abuse, using principles of restorative justice to guide their mission. This research gave voice to those who participate in Revive. Two focus groups were conducted, one with women survivors (n=4) of sexual abuse and one with men who had offended sexually (n=9). Findings indicate the powerful capability of a community-based program to heal individuals and relationships, and safely reintegrate both women survivors and males who have offended sexually. Specifically, the findings speak to entree (hearing about the program, initial perception and experience of the program), processes (how the program supports its members, how members support one another), structures (check-in and check-out processes, administration and staff, not having an agenda for group meetings), and outcomes (restorative justice, goals, needs fulfillment, and overall support that members receive). Similarities and differences between the experiences of women survivors' and men who offended sexually, in relation to their membership in their Revive groups, are discussed and explored. A theory of sense of community is used to highlight the connectedness amongst group members and the positive outcomes as a result of their membership and participation in Revive. Restorative justice principles are identified as common goals towards which survivors and offenders both strive. (excerpt)