Let begin by premising that while this type of justice may work in some instances, it does not work in all instances especially in my case. Being a survivor of domestic violence and much of my experiences in the criminal justice system linked to domestic violence, the major problem with restorative justice especially in terms of Aboriginal women who experience domestic violence and then are arrested because of those experiences (like fighting back or making the first complaint but not in the instance of the first experience of being victimized).
Restorative justice operates on the principle that justice needs to take place within the community (that is a positive). However, it believes that all parties should be involved including offender and victim. In cases of domestic violence, it is not always the offender that is the one who does the victimizing. Rather, the offender may also be the victim, like in my case.
With that statement, I was the one who was arrested and I was the one who was considered the offender, and not the victim. Although very helpful to reducing the harm done to my criminal record, the restorative/Aboriginal justice route forced me to apologize for me fighting back instead of taking a beating. Kind of counter-intuitive to the whole healing process, right?
Along with this, I was forced to partake in cultural initiatives in exchange for my freedom post charge rather than pre-charge. This meant that I had already gone through the formal process of laying of charges and being finger printed and having a history on my criminal record. Again, counter-intuitive to the whole healing process. I would have much preferred cultural services BEFORE admitting any guilt which was what my legal-aid lawyer said was my only route.
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