What you should bear in mind before meeting your offender

Meeting someone who has inflicted pain on you either mentally or physically is one of the toughest things you’ll ever do.

However, if you can overcome the (entirely understandable) fear associated with such an encounter, it’s also one of the best things you’ll ever do.

Restorative practices are proven to be a dramatic, cleansing tool for many. They don’t work for everyone, but victims of crime should at least take some time to consider the benefits of confronting their offender.

If you’ve decided to go ahead, great! Our restorative justice coordinators will walk you through step-by-step what to expect and how to prepare. They will also accompany you to any physical meeting, and facilitate the process, acting as an independent third party.

However, we’ve got some great tips in the meantime to help you prepare:

Ask yourself some questions

When you walk into that room, it’s best to have a plan. You’ll want to know why you’re entering the room and what you want to get out of the meeting.

Grab a notepad and pen, and answer the following questions:

  1. Who is the person you’re due to meet?
  2. What else do you know about them?
  3. Why do you want to talk to them?
  4. What do you hope to gain from the meeting?
  5. Are your expectations realistic?
  6. How have your feeling towards the person changed (if at all) since the incident?
  7. How angry are you on a scale of one to ten? Is that anger likely to boil over when you confront your offender?
  8. Do you feel emotionally ready to speak with them?

This should be a therapeutic exercise and, once finished, you’ll have a clearer view of what you’re looking to get out of the meeting.

Equally, don’t be afraid to pull out if it’s clear you’re not ready or seem to be doing it for the wrong reasons.

Consider the offender’s potential mindset

It’s hard to second guess people, but you need to be prepared for all scenarios.

How is this person likely to behave? Bear in mind that offenders don’t like to feel out of control and they almost definitely won’t enjoy the experience.

They may show remorse in the form of raw emotion or may be entirely cold. They might even be angry.

If you’re at all concerned about how the offender might act, don’t be afraid to pull out of the encounter. Remember – this is your decision, nobody else’s.

Take someone close to you

You’ll need plenty of moral support on the day, so make sure you take a very close friend or family member.

They need do nothing more than sit next to you – armed with a box of tissues if necessary – and be ready if you need some support, but it’s probably the most important role of the day.

Remember that the offender doesn’t have to be physically present

Depending on the situation, if the offender has passed away since the incident, you can still undertake the restorative process.

Consider visiting their grave. It’s a more powerful encounter than you might expect, and gives you the opportunity to express yourself and voice your feelings freely, without fear of retaliation.

Likewise, the restorative justice process can take place over phone or skype – it’s completely up to you.

Final thought: if a direct encounter isn’t for you

If you come to the conclusion that meeting your offender simply isn’t for you, there are a number of other ways you air your feelings to them.

These symbolic methods for confronting an offender may work well if the thought of an encounter is simply too much:

  • Write a letter, but don’t send it
  • Gather everything that reminds you of the offender (i.e. clothes and other items) and bury them somewhere
  • Start a blog (either publicly or privately) and write regularly about your feelings towards the offender
  • Give some of your time and money to an organisation that helps other survivors

We hope this post has proved useful for you, but if you need any further advice at all, the friendly, experienced Voice team are here to help. Get in touch with them today.