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New Publication Examines Programs that Apply Restorative Justice Interventions for Intimate Partner Violence

person talking in group

Another publication is out! Family and Community Approaches to Intimate Partner Violence: Restorative Programs in the United States examines a sample of programs that use restorative justice (RJ) approaches for interpersonal violence (IPV) interventions.   

Restorative justice offers an opportunity for individuals and communities to focus on healing relationships instead of punishment. Some RJ approaches for IPV interventions, with the participants’ permission, bring together the persons harmed, persons causing harm, their family or community networks, or combinations of these groupings.

In this study, the Center’s Dr. Joan Pennell and Dr. Emily Smith, along with colleagues, examine a sample of programs that use RJ approaches to IPV in order to address the following research questions: 

  • What influences programs to adopt a restorative approach to ending IPV? 
  • How do programs safeguard their original vision for social change? 
  • What principles guide the programs in carrying out their work in safe and productive ways?

One of the key findings includes that the programs analyzed recognized that restoring relationships in communities and families required engaging all key groupings in dialogue. Therefore, it was incumbent upon them to navigate working with the persons harmed and persons causing harm in conjunction with their support networks.

Additionally, the researchers examined two restorative designs that the programs used, including family group conferencing (FGC)  and peacemaking circles (PMC). In these two designs, they found restoration for PMCs meant changing gender norms in communities and, for all FGCs, strengthening support networks around families.

As interest heightens in applying restorative approaches to ending IPV, planners can draw upon the work of the programs analyzed in this study.

The Center will continue to adapt these findings into a practitioner-friendly format and share them through professional trainings, conferences, and technical assistance.

This article makes a much-needed contribution to the national conversation on using restorative approaches in situations of intimate partner violence. The Center thanks Dr. Pennell for her valuable and meaningful contributions to the IPV intervention field!