Background The study is part of a European comparative research and development project (JUST/2013/JPEN/AG/4587) which focuses on restorative justice methods and especially victim-offender-mediation in intimate partner violence cases aiming at increasing mutual understanding and awareness of specific protection needs. The starting point for the study was to recognise the critical questions raised particularly in regard to the protection of the victim but not to ignore the potential advantages which were reflected through empirical data.
Methods The results from Finland presented here are based firstly on interviews with victims and offenders. Out of the 12 respondents eight were women and four were men. Secondly, focus group interviews were made with prosecutors and police, who refer cases to mediation. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted.
Results In Finland the vast majority of cases were situational violence connected to alcohol use. The respondents had various reasons for attending VOM. Victims needed their partners to listen to them, understand their feelings, to be taken seriously and to have a dialogue. Both victims and offenders were however hoping to avoid a trial. The mediation process and the mediators’ efforts were appreciated by victims and offenders. Almost all victims felt safe during VOM and parties received information on services. Experiences were mainly positive and resulted in an agreement. Although the results sometimes were temporary, the situation improved in most cases.
Conclusions Developing the training and practices is important. Risk assessment and awareness of IPV phenomena, as well as the case selection with emphasis on the parties’ abilities needs to be developed. Handled appropriately and in a victim sensitive manner, VOM can help prevent reoffending, make victims stronger and give parties new angels of thinking.
- Restorative Justice
- Domestic violence
- Intimate partner violence