Reflections on Family Violence and Restorative Justice: Addressing the Critique
There is more agreement in this debate about whether or not to use restorative justice for family violence than is generally acknowledged. For example, both critics and proponents concur that much family violence remains behind closed doors and is under-reported; and both stress the importance of ensuring victims’ safety and using sound processes. This chapter explores further the agreements and disagreements between the two groups and, where disagreements remain, reflects on whether or not restorative justice could, in effect, address these concerns. This is a key issue because as long as the focus is on the points of difference, little attention is given to shared priorities and policy makers, researchers and many practitioners seem to prefer to maintain the status quo. The consequence of this for those directly involved – victims, perpetrators and families – is that they are likely to continue to experience or commit violent acts and their choices to deal with this violence will remain limited: call the police, seek refuge or do nothing. The consequences for society more broadly are that there are likely to be few opportunities for relevant empirical research to examine the relative advantages or disadvantages of both approaches – the criminal justice system and restorative justice processes – and the bulk of resources will continue to be allocated to the criminal justice system despite its acknowledged failings.