….The first thing to note is that victims do not have to forgive their offender to take part in restorative justice. This may be obvious to those working in the field, but it’s a common misconception and a barrier to people taking part.
It’s also really important not to create a hierarchy among victims, with forgiveness as the ultimate goal of a successful restorative meeting. Restorative justice is a very personal process and everybody’s motivations for doing it and route through it will be different. We should be careful about applauding forgiveness if we risk inadvertently rebuking those who don’t forgive the person who has harmed them.
….For victims who do choose to forgive, often it has little to do with the offender – it’s not about making them feel better or letting them off the hook, as some people assume. Instead it’s about enabling the victim to let go of the offence and move on.
….Forgiveness can be an important part of restorative justice and when it happens it can be extremely powerful. But it’s complicated – some people want to achieve it, while others have no interest. And we all need to recognise that is their choice.
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