….What lessons can we learn from this case study?
Preparation is key
For approximately three months before the conference, Lucy met with her counsellor on a weekly basis to prepare. The counsellor says: â€˜it was all about looking at every eventuality; what was the worst case scenario, what was the best case scenario, how to prepare her … we discussed power dynamics, we discussed all the potential things that she could feel in that room with him, so that she had considered everything.â€™ Both Lucy and her counsellor saw this preparation as absolutely essential.
Support for victim-survivor
The support of the Rape Crisis counsellor was crucial. As well as preparing Lucy, she went into the conference â€˜very prepared that if I thought there was going to be a power shift that we would address thatâ€™. So, she says, it is essential that â€˜youâ€™ve got the right people in there who are looking for the right things to protect the victimâ€™. Similarly, Lucy said that support was vital and that â€˜someone like [the counsellor] would be the ideal. She was stunning.â€™
Never under-estimate the strength of victim-survivors
The counsellor recognises that restorative justice can be â€˜fraught with dangersâ€™ in these situations because of the â€˜power dynamicsâ€™. However, she continued that: â€˜I think we canâ€™t underestimate the power of the women or the men that we work within in these situations and … thatâ€™s why I think with the proper preparations and proper risk assessment that giving somebody an opportunity to help themselves can only be a positive thingâ€™. Similarly, the senior police officer we interviewed felt that people should be given the option of restorative justice and that failing to do so was patronising and implied that individuals were â€˜not able to make a rational choiceâ€™.
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