Mediation and Domestic Violence Creative Case Study
Part 1: Designing a Creative Case Study for Mediation of Domestic Violence between the Parties
Summary of the Conflict – Film ‘Provoked’
Provoked is the film used to design the creative story for mediation of domestic violence. The film traces the story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia from being a victim of domestic violence to a murderer. The main character managed to change the public perception of the women who kill their abusers after having been battered for a long period of time. Kiranjit Ahluwalia’s case helped in changing the law. Kiranjit, a Punjabi woman, moved to London after she had got married to Deepak Ahluwalia. When she arrived in London in 1974, after an arranged marriage, she was only 24 years old (Bindel, 2007). It appears Kiranjit belonged to a culture where marriages were always arranged by the parents, and thus, the girls should obey and strictly follow the decisions made by their parents.
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Deepak appeared to be very caring from the very first days, but with time, he began to beat her up. In fact, he abused her both physically and verbally. Deepak tossed his wife down the stairs to prevent her from copying the way the white girls dress. Kiranjit noted that the husband treated her like a slave. The husband allowed her neither to drink coffee nor to eat chilies, even though she loved the foods (Bindel, 2007). Initially, she was afraid that she could not say anything and often stayed awake at night for fear of being asleep.
After some time, Deepak started drinking and sleeping with other women while subjecting the wife to spousal rape. He raped her in the guise that it was his right. Besides, he issued threats that stopped Kiranjit from seeking family support. The two sons were always exposed to violence as well. For instance, in one of the nights after dinner, he woke her up to demand money (Bindel, 2007). However, when she refused, the husband tried to break her ankles before picking a hot rod, which he pointed to her face. When Deepak eventually fell asleep, the rage that Kiranjit had suppressed for nearly ten years overwhelmed her. As a consequence, she approached her husband with a can containing petrol and poured it over his feet before setting him alight. Kiranjit set the husband on fire while asleep following a scene of domestic violence. It is evident that she acted out of desperation, thus killing her husband, the man who had subjected her to different tortures for years. Kiranjit may have wanted to show her husband or the world how deeply she was hurt (Bindel, 2007). Indeed, there were instances when she tried to run away, but Deepak managed to track her down and beat her even more. Therefore, burning the feet was to ensure that he would not run after her anymore. Five days later, Deepak succumbed to his injuries, and the wife was brought before prosecution charged with murder. After the hearing the case, the court sentenced Kiranjit to life imprisonment for premeditated murder. The prosecution had initially made the suggestion that since Kiranjit was very jealous, she had killed the husband because of his numerous affairs.
Domestic violence is a taboo subject that, for a longtime, has never been discussed by many Asians living in Britain because it puts family honor at stake, particularly for anyone who dared to seek help out of the family (Bindel, 2007). Before Kiranjit’s case, Asian women suffered worse cases of domestic violence. The feeling of putting the family to shame or risking family honor was not tolerable. Family honor was more important than the suffering of the women. Kiranjit claimed that she was not willing to talk about anything that would likely hinder the excitement that her family had enjoyed all along. She also believed that the abuses would end in the future. However, Asian women or those that are chained by their cultures can look back at Kiranjit with hope and determination.
Nonetheless, a non-governmental organization, known as the Southall Black Sisters (SBS), that fights against domestic violence helped Kiranjit get justice. Domestic violence is characterized by wife abuse, women who are battered, partner abuse, and males using violence against females. The SBS conducted a campaign that allowed Kiranjit’s sentence to be quashed after an appeal in 1992 (Bindel, 2007). When the appeal case was presented with new pieces of evidence during the retrial, the charges were reduced to manslaughter. Therefore, after having spent many years in prison, she got her freedom to reunite with her two children. Ms. Kiranjit’s landmark case helped in the provision of various legal options available to those who are exposed to long-term abuse. The case was used to highlight that women who kill because of serious domestic violence should not be treated as cold-blood murderers. According to Walker (1999), women’s and social service organizations around the world have been responding to the challenge of domestic violence for the past few decades. The organizations have put various governments under pressure to treat and refer to domestic violence as a human rights issue and not as a social, legal or psychological one.
After her release from the jail, Kiranjit returned to her family and took care of her two sons (Bindel, 2007). It should be noted that Kiranjit managed to change from an intimidated woman without confidence to a strong-willed individual. She was reportedly happy and seemed to enjoy life like she used to before getting married. In fact, Kiranjit claimed that she enjoyed a happy childhood and was not treated badly up to the time when she met Deepak.
In this assignment, the case study will focus on psychology and domestic violence. Notably, the study by Walker (1999) highlights the critical issues that psychologists studying domestic violence encounter in their daily practices with women and girls being targeted by the men abusers (Walker, 1999). Violence is considered a learned behavior that can be passed from one generation to another (Thoennes, Salem, & Pearson, 1995). The highest indicator that a man will use violence against his wife or children is exposure to violence during childhood.
Conducting a Simulated Mediation based on the Case Study
There are instances when mediation can be faster, cheaper and more efficient when settling disputes within a family rather than going through a litigation or trial process (Cohen et al., 1999). Many cases of domestic violence have been resolved through mediation. In mediation, an impartial party assists the disputing parties in solving an existing controversy; nonetheless, the mediator cannot impose a resolution (Irving, 1995). The process involves identifying a mediator to work closely with the parties that have been identified as having issues and then looking for possible options by hearing from each of the parties to reach an agreement. It is important to note that the signed agreement can be submitted to the court. In other instances, the signed agreement is used to dismiss court matters before the members can sign a binding contract. The process of mediation may be in different forms or take place during different times of a dispute (Holtzworth-Munroe, 2011).
However, the simplest form of mediation involves the two parties, namely the mediator and those who have an issue. In the case study presented, the first part will be the mediator and the second party would be Deepak and his wife. The second party (Deepak and his wife) would present themselves before the mediator to help them solve their problem. Therefore, before starting the process of mediation, it would be appropriate if the mediator highlights to Deepak and his wife all the elements that are of great significance to conduct a successful mediation process. Among the elements that needs to be considered include: negotiating in good faith, the two antagonists showing willingness to fulfill the agreement reached, presenting ideas or identifying needs transparently, and willingness to listen to each other’s concerns. It is noteworthy that in an abusive relationship, it may not be easy to have mutual participation because the victim may be silenced by the abuser. Besides, the victim may fear retribution in case true needs are expressed. Evidently, if one of the disputing parties, in this case Deepak or his wife, fears the other party, then it may be difficult for the parties to mediate on equal terms. In a relationship with power imbalance, for instance, in a case involving domestic violence, equal participation or fairness can be compromised, and there is also the danger that the victim may be exposed to physical harm.
The process can begin with separate interviews because it would allow a reluctant victim, in this case Kiranjit, to disclose abuse. Besides, the mediator can use the in-person interview to build rapport with Deepak and his wife separately and to evaluate non-verbal cues in both cases. Since Kiranjit may fear retribution by disclosing abuse, the questions that the mediator asks her have to concern the cases of physical, emotional, psychological, sexual or other forms of abuse. Indeed, the mediator has to look for behavioral as well as non-verbal signals, for instance, being dismissive of the proofs of abuse. It is also important for the mediator to structure his/her questioning.
Since Kiranjit may decide to minimize the existence of the abuse, the questions asked by the mediator should deal with the consequences of the abuse that can hinder the process of mediation. For instance, it would be appropriate to ask Deepak if he would be willing to negotiate with the wife on an equal basis. On the other hand, Kiranjit could be asked if she would be willing to provide open responses because they could help to prevent her from linking the question with whether her relationship was abusive because such a question would not have been asked. During questioning, the mediator begins with open-ended questions regarding negotiation, and this usually takes place in the presence of the spouse. Thereafter, the issues of fear and a conclusion of the abuse will follow. This approach allows the mediator to conduct a full assessment of the case under consideration. However, in this case, the mediator may have to conduct a further screening to clarify the type and frequency of the abuse. The screening would also help him/her to determine the duration and severity of the abuse.
To get clarification on the specific type of physical abuse that Kiranjit may have been going through, the mediator may need to ask her if she had been pushed, slapped, hit, restrained, punched, yelled at, stalked, thrown objects at, threatened, or forced to have sexual encounters. To clarify psychological abuse, the mediator may need to turn to psychological inventories to provide necessary assistance. For instance, psychological maltreatment may focus on the occurrence and frequency of events within the period of the last six months. Questionnaires on psychological abuse may need to be administered personally and orally to enable the mediator examine the body language, as well as non-verbal signals, while also giving chance to the respondent that may not read.
It is also essential to evaluate screening results. When the initial interviews have been conducted, the next thing for the mediator is to assess if Kiranjit and the husband are suitable for mediation. Importantly, since every case can have different dynamics, there is no evidence for predicting domestic violence cases that are suitable or unsuitable for mediation. It is also significant to record that evaluating the responses provided in the questionnaire may not indicate that the mediator’s job is not to determine if domestic violence has occurred or to evaluate if the parties can benefit from the mediation process where one or both parties have alleged violence. Responses should be useful for proceeding to the next steps in the mediation process (Hart, 1993).
As a result, if neither of the parties report abuse or fear, or where communication appear likely, the mediator could consider a joint mediation session. If the parties provide responses that may indicate the occurrence of abuse, for instance, in the case of Kiranjit, then face-to-face mediation with additional screening or specialized mediation may be utilized. However, if Kiranjit indicates that she had been abused in the past and remains fearful of the husband, and cannot advocate for her best interest, then it would not be appropriate for the mediator to proceed with the mediation process.
Formulating the Mediation
The mediator will begin by having a face-to-face session with the victim during the pre-mediation stage. Importantly, the mediator will be expected to ask the victim when and where she believes is most convenient to have in-person pre-mediation meetings. The victim’s home or an alternative place will be identified if the victim prefers to meet in a different place. The objective of this visit will be to determine credibility, as well as to create rapport (Bush, & Folger, 2004). During the meeting, the mediator will listen to the stories of the victim and assist her in considering mediation in solving the problem. During the initial encounter, the mediator will ask the victim to decide whether she wants to begin by telling her story or whether she wants to know first about the program.
The mediator will have a crucial duty of attending to this victim. Specifically, the mediator will be expected to listen carefully and patiently (Antes et al., 2001). He or she will also be expected to show genuine sympathy and desire to listen to the experiences of the victim. If the mediator manages to listen effectively, then the victim may get the opportunity not only to validate her feelings, but also to vent them (Pines, Gat, & Tal, 2002). The victim is highly likely to develop trust in the mediator if he or she listens to her attentively. The mediator should do his/ her best to convince the victim that she is the top priority. It should be stresses that if the mediator occasionally paraphrases what the victim says, then she will have the assurance that the mediator is actually very attentive and values what she is saying. The mediator will be expected to provide information on a number of issues.
To begin, the mediator will be expected to provide the victim with accurate and thorough information regarding the mediation program. The information will not only be oral, but also written, including; history, goals, as well as the population that it serves (Cloke, 2001). The mediator will also indicate if there are costs to be incurred by the participants. Similarly, the mediator will be expected to give information or answer any question regarding himself or herself as a mediator (Lovenheim, 2002). For instance, the mediator could provide information on his or her training as a mediator, the experience acquired so far, as well as personal information if necessary. Giving personal information can be helpful in building rapport or creating trust.
It would be necessary that the mediator explains the process of mediation and its objective the victim in case she does not know (Kolb, 2001). To some extent, the victim will need to know what usually happens during the process of mediation and the roles played by all the participants. At the same time, if the victim wants to find out what will happen to the abuser or what will happen to her if she decides to proceed with the process or if she declines, then the mediator should provide answers to such questions.
The victim will be provided with a summary of her rights as stipulated. The rights are important for her to know her entitlements in a case such as the domestic violence that she went through (Moore, 2014). Moreover, the mediator will be expected to pay attention to the needs of the victims or liaise with the stakeholders who can help her with the necessary resources or provide referrals in case there is a need. Significantly, the mediator will be expected to verify the agencies that the victim may be referred to and carry out a follow-up to help meet the needs of the victim.
The next step after providing information regarding the mediation process is to ensure that the risk-benefit analysis is conducted to help the victim in making the most appropriate decision (Kolb, 2001). It will be up to the mediator to help the victim weigh the benefits and risks that would follow the mediation process and how that fits her situation.
When the victim eventually accepts to go on with the mediation process, the mediator will be expected to ensure that the victim is prepared for what awaits her ahead. The mediator can achieve this by providing the required information during the initial encounter or additional sessions. No mediation should be scheduled up to the time until the victim indicates that she is ready to take part in it (Buzawa, & Buzawa, 1996). In the case of special needs, the mediator should endeavor to accommodate them, for instance, in the case of physical limitations.
The mediator will be expected to help in estimating the possibility of restitution. During preliminary brainstorming, the mediator will be expected to help the victim determine how the harms caused by the abuser could be compensated. This will be significant for the victim to have some ideas regarding restoration, both monetary and non-monetary. The groundwork for restitution would be created before the beginning of the process of mediation, and in that way, the victim will have a strong base to make an appropriate proposal in case there is a need for her to do this. The victim should also be informed about compensation and public funds that are used for reimbursing losses that victims incur.
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The mediator will be expected to use appropriate language. Notably, some words can suggest judgment. Such words as reconciliation and forgiveness should be avoided because they pressure victims’ behavior (Kriesberg, 2002). Similarly, words that increase expectation, such as restoration and healing, should be avoided. Finally, after the process of mediation, the mediator will be expected to follow up with the parties to ensure they remain committed to what is agreed up.
Second Part: Problem Solving Mediation Model
Structure of Mediation
The type of mediation considered appropriate for this assignment is the Victim-Offender Mediation also known as restorative justice (Moore, 2014). The model emphasizes the need to understand and mend relationships between the victim and the offender. Restorative justice allows those who feel treated unjustly to explain how they have been affected and contribute to determining what could be done to correct the harm (Wall, Stark, & Standifer, 2001). The resolution process will help in repairing the harm that the violence has resulted in. Both parties have the opportunity to talk about the offenses and feelings. Besides, the victim has the opportunity to ask questions and get answers. Therefore, having a discussion with those who have suffered the harm form the central part of the restoration process. In the end, it is hoped that a mutually agreeable restoration plan can be developed to address the resulting harm.
It is recognized in the victim-offender mediation process that human beings have resources that, when applied appropriately, can be helpful in addressing pertinent issues (Wall et al., 2001). The resources can also be used in problem resolution. However, structures, such as neutral third-party mediators or facilitators, and procedural plans can be used in neutralizing differences in power and status (Davidheiser, 2006). The resources can also be applied to create conducive environments that support a noteworthy dialogue (Shapiro, 2002). The mediator has a responsibility of using specific strategies or techniques to create an environment that is both safe and comfortable for mediation to take place (Irving, & Benjamin, 2002). During the discussions, the victim could be encouraged to make the discussions more personal and powerful. The presence of the mediator is critical in promoting a free dialogue where both parties engage actively.
The presence of the mediator can be established depending on how he or she communicates, whether verbally or non-verbally (Fischer, Vidmar, & Ellis, 1993). The presence can also be established based on how the mediator is straightforward, expresses genuine concern, or shows empathy. The mediator can propose different options or solutions and present them to the parties involved in the process. For instance, the mediator can propose where mediation meetings could take place and when the parties should meet (Moore, 2014). In this way, the parties will feel more empowered by the mediation process. For successful mediation, the role of the mediator remains very critical, especially in encouraging the victim and the offender to converse. Nonetheless, the mediator will have to be cautious not to intervene most of the time. The mediator can do all possible so that the process meets the needs of the participants. Specifically, the mediator will have to be more attentive to the type of communication from the participants that are likely to distort meaning (Landrum, 2011). Learning the essential needs or interests of the participants can improve collaborative efforts or result in more satisfying outcomes. Having agreements written well can guide or focus behavior, hence improving results. Nonetheless, a clearly written agreement is merely a secondary component of dialogue that takes place between the victim and the offender.
In the victim-offender mediation process, victim’s safety remains very critical. It is the responsibility of the mediator to ensure that at all costs, the victim is not harmed (Moore, 2014). For instance, the mediator has to ask questions at all times during the mediation. A notable question to ask would be: “Does this process threaten your safety or well-being as a victim?” The mediator must uphold rapport, examine communication outcomes, and request that the victim provides feedback as the process goes on. However, where the victim claims that she feels unsafe, then the mediator should come up with options aimed at terminating the mediation process. To guarantee the victim safety, the mediation should be conducted in a location where the victim feels free. The victim could even be encouraged to come along with another person to the session. Similarly, the mediator can also invite another mediator who may help to co-mediate the meeting. The victim-offender mediation process is credible, which is a key safeguard for the victims. The credibility of the process is reinforced through writing, and the victim may need to be reassured.
It is also important to conduct a careful screening of the case presented. Every mediation program needs to have its own criteria for identifying the offense. These criteria may comprise the age or social status of the offender, whether the offense was conducted for the first time, or whether there had been other offenses committed before. Aside from the criteria, the mediator can exercise the choice and ask himself/herself whether the case should go to the mediation stage (Cobb, 1997). A meaningful mediation can be achieved if offenders become responsible for participating in criminal actions. Any person mediating with any doubts on how to go ahead with the process can talk with the victimized person who ought to explain how the situation was and to share information regarding the offender (Moore, 2014). There are instances when victims can choose to go on with the mediation even when the offender is not remorseful. Furthermore, it is critical for the mediator to determine whether the two parties are ready to take part in the mediation process, specifically identifying if the victim is able to represent her own interests or needs.
It is also important to acknowledge the offender’s choice to take part in the mediation process. Offenders should voluntarily participate in the process of mediation (Phillips, 2001). If offenders are coerced into the process of mediation, then the victim may view the mediation as unsatisfactory or even harmful. Apparently, offender’s unwillingness and insincerity can be viewed by the victim as an additional offense.
Stages of the Victim-Offender Mediation Model
The victim-offender as a process of mediation chosen for this case study will not focus on seeking an amicable solution that would prevent from other occurrences of in future. Instead of focusing on the decisions regarding guilt or the results of the punishment, this type of mediation will be used to repair the harm that had been committed to the interpersonal relationship between Deepak and his wife. In this way, it would be possible to restore the normal condition that existed before. There are a number of components of the victim-offender mediation (Moore, 2014). The results of the victim-offender mediation process can be increased by understanding the parties’ concerns regarding what had taken place, as well as the reasons for certain actions to be taken. The components are: the involvement of all the necessary stakeholders; voluntary participation during the face-to-face meetings; sharing the effects of the event, the repercussions, as well as consequences; questioning and clarifying views of the victim or sharing how to make restitution; presenting offers and proposals; discussing and modifying the presented offers; acknowledging and accepting agreements required to make restitution; having an agreement presented both orally and in written form; and creating an implementation strategy and a monitoring process that holds the agreement in place (Moore, 2014).
In this case, the necessary stakeholders that ought to be included are the victim (Kiranjit), the offender (Deepak) and the mediator who come together to discuss all that had happened. Kiranjit, who feels offended should be able to tell how she had been offended. For instance, she should be able to talk about the beatings. In fact, she should be able to explain the physical and verbal abuses. The mediator can ask such a question: “What type of abuses did your husband put you through?” The husband who is the abuser should also be able to talk about his actions. Finally, the mediator should help the two parties to agree on a common goal.
Different parties should agree to participate in the face-to-face meetings voluntarily. Having a face-to-face discussion with the concerned parties will be helpful in observing different non-verbal signals. Voluntary participation means that the parties do not have to be coerced to give the information that they have. As a consequence, it becomes easier to get the important details of the events that can help in coming up with solutions to the problem at hand. In this case, it is the claim of domestic violence. When people accept to take part in the voluntary meetings, it could also mean that they are willing to provide or share necessary information. In this regard, the mediator can ask the victim: “Are you comfortable with the proposed face-to-face discussion?”
The parties (Deepak and his wife) have to show that they are willing to share the effects, repercussions and consequences of what happened. In this case, Kiranjit should dwell on how the domestic violence that she went through affected her. She could tell if she became depressed as a result of what she went through. It is possible that she may have experienced physical, psychological and emotional harm given the kind of treatment that she underwent. Kiranjit should use the opportunity to tell the consequences of the actions of her husband during her encounter with the mediator. The mediator may ask: “How did the actions of your husband affect you?” or “Did you feel depressed following the violence that your husband put you through?”
During the meeting, the mediator should question Kiranjit about the events of the violence that she witnessed at home. For instance, the mediator could ask; “What kind of violence was your husband exposing you to?” The questions need to focus mostly on the events surrounding the violence that Kiranjit went through. From the questions, it can be possible to make clarifications on the views presented by the victim of violence. From the clarifications, the victim and the abuser can make adjustments where necessary in their lives. The adjustments are of great significance because they can be used to restore the good lives that the couple enjoyed during the initial stages of the marriage.
After the victim and the abuser have been asked questions and clarifications have been made, the next step would be to present offers and proposals that would help the two antagonists prevent similar problems in the future (Moore, 2014). The mediator will come up with the offers, which he or she believes, are beneficial to the victim and the abuser. However, it must be noted that the proposals that the mediator may consider as beneficial to the victim may not necessarily be beneficial to the abuser. Therefore, the mediator may begin by making offers to one of the antagonists, and then he or she can seek offers from the other party. Once such vital information has been acquired, the mediator can then come up with a proposal that would benefit the victim and the abuser to prevent a similar occurrence in the future (Irving, & Benjamin, 2002). Importantly, the mediator must not impose the proposal on the two parties, but he/she should work to ensure that whatever is reached is agreeable to the victim and the offender.
The next step would be to have a discussion and make modifications to the offers that have been presented. Through the discussions, the mediator will have more insight into the problems and what the stakeholders believe should be done to prevent such problems in the future. The mediator should help to create an environment that will foster open discussions so that finer details are gathered (Salem, & Milne, 1995). From the discussions, appropriate modifications can be made to the offers presented to suit the objectives of the mediation.
It is necessary to acknowledge and accept agreements that are required to create restoration. Deepak and his wife would have to agree on certain terms after their discussion with the mediator. However, before the agreements can be made, the two antagonists must first acknowledge that they have common viewpoints on the matters that put them apart previously. Restoration is only possible when the victim and the abuser acknowledge that they have reached a consensus on the issues that resulted in disunity. The parties must be willing to show that they are ready to make amends for the things that took place before.
The agreement reached upon between the victim and the abuser should be presented both formally and orally (Moore, 2014). The agreements reached by the Deepak and his wife could be more binding if they are presented formally. The two will need to say what they believe will prevent domestic violence in the future and agree that it is good for both of them. Finally, the mediator will help the parties in the conflict to create an implementation strategy, as well as a monitoring process that will ensure that the reached agreement remains in place.
Reflection of the Victim-Offender Mediation Model Used in the Case Study
In this mediation process, I learnt that when a victim commits a criminal offense, he or she may feel powerless and vulnerable. In addition, it is evident that in the majority of cases, the criminal system focuses on the offender and the exclusion of the victim from the mediation process. In such instances, the victim is rarely given the chance to tell experiences, give a definition of the harm, and express needs. The availability of choices or options for the victim during the process of mediation can make him or her feel powerful. A feeling of empowerment is helpful in healing, moving beyond pain and difficulties. The mediator is supposed to provide information to the victims engaged in the process of decision making. Nonetheless, it is essential not to pressurize the victim or impose expectations on her.
In addition, the victim needs to get adequate time for decision making without any time constraints. The victim should also continually have choices during the process of mediation because several decisions have to be made. For example, the victim should have the right to choose whether she wants to take part in the process of mediation or not. The mediator needs to provide accurate information regarding the mediation process, specifically describing the mediation itself, responses from the victim, etc. It is up to the mediator to inspire the victim to identify the benefits and risks of the process of mediation before making the decision to proceed. If the victim wishes to consult with her trusted friend, a clergy, a relative, or an advocate before making her final decision, such a preference must be honored (Cooks, & Hale, 1994). Thus, it is important that the participation of the victim in the process is based on her informed consent.
Through the victim-offender mediation model, I got to know that support is an important aspect in the process of mediation. The victim can choose the support person that she would want to accompany her to meet the mediator. The presence of a support person, such as a relative or a friend, enhances the safety and comfort of the victim, even though such a person may play a little or no role at all in the process. The mediator may need to telephone or have a meeting with the support person so as to prepare him or her for the session of mediation. The sessions need to be scheduled at a time that the victim considers convenient. The schedule should be a priority because she needs to feel that she controls the situation. Meanwhile, the needs of other stakeholders must not be ignored as well.
The selection of the site remains essential in the process of mediation. The victim must know whether the session would be conducted in a private or public place. It is recommended that the victim would name the place that she prefers. For instance, the victim could be asked;, “Where would you feel safe during the mediation session? Would you like a safe, neutral, convenient, or comfortable place?” In most cases, the victim will choose to be in a personal setting, such as at home or a detention center. Before the victim can choose any setting, she has to weigh the advantages and disadvantages that a particular setting offers. However, the victim should make the final decision on the setting that she prefers.
Before the discussion session can begin, the parties will need to sit across from one another so as to create an opportunity to have a direct eye contact as the dialogue builds up. Tables may be used to enhance victim’s safety or maintain decorum. The mediator will be seated at the end of the table, but any other support person will sit beside the parties. This kind of arrangement can be very effective in the end. However, if the victim is not uncomfortable with the arrangement, then the mediator should consider her wishes. In certain cases, the victim can choose to sit away from the offender or may ask that the support person sits on the other side of the table so as to make him visible to the victim. Similarly, cultural preferences may determine the sitting arrangement. Irrespective of the sitting, it has to be conducive to promote dialogue and comfort for all the parties taking part; though, the security of the victim should be prioritized when choosing the sitting arrangement.
During the dialogue, the victim will have the chance to choose whether to speak first or last, especially at the beginning of the narration (Winslade, & Monk, 2000). The choice will be based on her position as the victim. It is always empowering for the victim to begin by defining the harm that occurred and telling the abuser what was experienced, as well as the effects that it had on her. If the victim does not want to be put on the spot, then she may request that the abuser to talk first. The victim may find it validating to hear the words of remorse and regret from the abuser, particularly if such feelings have been elicited by the story provided by the victim. It is the responsibility of the mediator to ensure that the complete stories of the two parties are heard. For instance, emotional content of the victim should not be compromised, if any, by the abuser’s remorse expression (Schreier, 2002). When selecting the first speaker, the mediator should make the choice based on such factors as needs, age, as well as the type of communication chosen by both parties. If the mediator decides on who will speak first, such a decision should be communicated privately to each of the parties before the mediation process begins. Choosing a safe place that fosters open dialogue remains very essential, irrespective of who speaks first.
Even though the victim may have accepted to take part in the mediation process, the mediator should take into consideration that it is up to the victim to terminate the process at any time. The implication here is that mediation is a voluntary process from the beginning till the end. Therefore, if the victim is not comfortable or if she feels unsafe, then the mediator has to consult with the two parties before concluding the session temporarily (Dutton, 1994). However, there are instances when the mediation process can be stopped completely.
The victim will have the right to choose the restitution strategy that best suits her needs. Moreover, if there is a need for reimbursement, the victim may ask that the abuser undertakes an appropriate community service, presents a written letter of apology, or takes part in the treatment of the victim, or any other creative assignment that is deemed appropriate. The victim will have to acknowledge that the compensation she asks for must be prescribed in the law.