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Homepage > Archive > Numar: 4 > Restorative Justice in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Improving our Response to Sexual Violence

 Restorative Justice in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Improving our Response to Sexual Violence

  • Shirley Jülich (Massey University, Albany, New Zealand. E-mail:
  • Helen Bowen (Restorative Justice Practitioner, Auckland, New Zealand. E-mail:

The New Zealand Law Commission and other stakeholders have been exploring the potential for introducing alternative responses to sexual offending. International jurisdictions have introduced specialist courts, coordinated crises responses and new case management procedures. Restorative justice has emerged as one of the preferred alternative responses. For any alternative intervention to be successful, an understanding of the victim’s recovery process is indispensable. In this article we propose a model of recovery from sexual violence that informs justice professionals as they assess the readiness of adult victims of sexual violence, both historical and current, to engage in restorative processes. This model of recovery draws on Herman’s (1997) work, a victim’s response to trauma, and Zehr’s (1995) model that describes the reaction of victims as they deal with a crime. Further, it accommodates the influence of Stockholm syndrome or traumatic bonding to which adult victims of sexual violence are sometimes exposed (Jülich, 2001, 2005). The model proposed enables restorative justice practitioners and other justice professionals to identify where victims sit on the continuum of their journeys of recovery, predict their likely reactions, and better prepare them to engage with justice processes. For the sake of clarity, the term ‘restorative justice‘ in the New Zealand context refers to proceedings in the adult criminal jurisdiction.

Keywords: Criminal Justice, Restorative Justice, Sexual Violence, Recovery