Source: (2009) Plenary presentation at the 12th World Conference of the International Institute for Restorative Practices. Bethlehem, PA.21-23 October 2009.

In the late 1980s, when I was directing the program development of a group called Family Survivors of Homicide, we discovered that there was a dearth of information regarding crime victimization and especially homicide. The information that we did find was often misleading and minimizing. So we did our own journeying. In hindsight, I find the journey itself to be informative. At first the group gravitated toward grief literature. Because we were mainly parents of murdered children, we companioned with a cousin group called “Compassionate Friends” and found their rituals and understanding of grief truly outstanding. We emulated their program and invited various grief counselors to come and speak to the group. We were taught the stages of grief from almost every discipline and perspective, all of which was helpful. But it wasn’t enough. After spending the first part of our biweekly evenings on our inner journeys we would always end up discussing the offender. At one point, one of our members went to see the young man who had killed her son. We were intrigued. She led us through the journey of what would now be called “restorative justice encounters,” where we began to spend time trying to understand the offender and the trauma bond that binds us. One thing became clear; for us to find our way back to health after encountering serious crime we needed to become our own experts in every field. The exploration of the Crime Victim Detour will explain why a violent crime has such catastrophic impact on victims and why restorative justice will look different through the eyes of a crime victim. (excerpt)

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