The Burlington CJC strives to be victim/survivor-centered and trauma-informed in all of our programs and practices. In addition to our Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime program, our Victim Liaisons work with affected parties when the responsible party is referred to a restorative justice process.
Role of the Victim Liaison in the Restorative Justice Panel
We ensure that those affected by the crime are offered participation in the restorative process. The Victim Liaison links the restorative justice panel (representing the community) to those affected by the crime. A major role of the Victim Liaison is to give enough information and support to the victim/survivor/affected party to allow safe and meaningful participation.
When victims/survivors/affected parties choose not to participate in the restorative justice process, the Victim Liaison tries to arrange other ways to share information about the impact of the offense with the restorative justice panel, and ultimately the responsible party. This ensures that the responsible party understands the impact of their actions on others and can maximize their amends to the victim/survivor/affected party.
Do’s and Don’ts for Supporting Victims/Survivors of Crime
· Say "I’m sorry for what happened."
· Emphasize to victims/survivors that "It’s not your fault."
· Be willing to listen to the victim/survivor share their experience if they want to talk about the crime and its effects, and validate that experience with empathy and support.
· Let the victim/survivor know that their feelings of anger, distress, frustration, fear, etc. are not uncommon and perfectly justifiable.
· Understand that many victims/survivors will have extreme difficulty reconstructing their lives after a crime and that some may never fully recover from the experience.
· Educate yourself about the possible range of victim/survivor reactions and available victim/survivor services in the community so you can provide short- and long-term appropriate, sensitive support.
· Be judgmental or blame the victim/survivor for the crime that was committed against them. The only person/people at fault for the crime are the person/people who committed it. The crime is NEVER the victim’s/survivor’s fault.
· Second-guess how the victim/survivor reacted to the crime.
· Say "I understand", because it is impossible to truly understand either the crime or its impact on the victim’s/survivor’s physical or mental health.
· Try to compare the victim’s/survivor’s experience to any similar experience, including your own. Each victim/survivor has their own reaction to crime and harm, and there is no “right” way to respond.
· Try to be make decisions and choices for a victim/survivor. Crime is a violation of one’s voice, choice, and control over one’s life. Since no victim/survivor chooses to be victimized or has control over crime or harm committed against them, it is vital that victims/survivors are able to regain control and make their own decisions that affect their lives.
“Serving Crime Victims Through Restorative Justice: A Resource Guide for Leaders and Practitioners”, a report from Alberta, Canada available from the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services.