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Hope in Process: A Qualitative Study of Victim Offender Mediation/Dialogue in Texas

White, Linda Lou
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) Ph.D. dissertation, Office of Graduate Studies, Texas A&M University.

This qualitative case study explored the nature of the experience of victim-offender mediated dialogue (VOMD) in the state of Texas. The participants whose narratives were examined included the victims and offenders from four crimes of extreme violence and the staff of mediators who prepared each of these dyads for a face-to-face encounter.
Analysis of the data revealed that the motivations for both victims and offenders were reciprocal. The victims usually wanted a chance to have the offenders acknowledge their pain, answer their questions, and express remorse for the violent act that took their loved one. The offenders wanted generally to offer the victims those same small comforts, and possibly, to regain some measure of self-respect by doing so. The ultimate goal for both groups was healing, and their motivations were basically related to a hope that propelled them forward to new ways of living with this past violence. The motivations for the mediators, including the volunteers, had to do with feeling called, as well as blessed, to do this kind of special work they believed made a difference in the world.
Other findings included the nature of the process and how it works to provide the healing that the participants seek. I found that it works through the following: (1) a safe place; (2) the use of reflection and self-awareness; (3) empathy; (4) peace and reconciliation; and (5) spiritual transformation.
The program was viewed through the lens of transformative learning as defined and theorized by Mezirow. Within the processes fostered by VOMD, I found a strong connection to Mezirow’s process of critical reappraisal of one’s beliefs and assumptions, and to the perspective transformation that he suggests may be possible. The primary perspective transformation that I saw was the new willingness on the part of both victim and offender to see the other’s basic worth as a human being; and this is the study’s key finding. Author’s abstract.


AbstractCourtsEvaluation/StudyPoliceReportRJ and the WorkplaceRJ in SchoolsRJ OfficeStatutes and LegislationTeachers and StudentsVictim Offender MediationVictim Support
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