Distracting Circlekeeper technique and suggestions for being centered.

This happened a few years ago, but for some reason it popped in my head recently.  I remember it vividly, and I was thinking how amazing it was that the Circle went well despite the Circlekeeper.

Maybe it was me, but I want to share the story to offer you some learning about your Circlekeeping.

Let me start by reminding you that Circlekeeping is different than “chairing” a meeting or facilitating a group discussion.

You “become one” with the Circle.

The Zenkeeping - Circlekeeper
The Zenkeeping – Circlekeeper

Basically your position in the group is “with”, not “2” them, not “4” them.  It takes practice if you are used to ‘authority’ approach.  You want to have enough confidence and structure about the Circle process that your instructions regarding the Circle, are taken and translated into actions. 

For example honoring the talking piece.  Your role in Circle is to Role Model, the process.  I got some feedback at the last training I did.  Someone shared she had been watching me “listen”.  She observed I was not doing all the traditional ‘good’ listening tasks (eye contact, nodding).   It was acknowledged that I was still listening, it was that I was taking it to heart, nonjudgmentally. 
To me, nodding would have been placing my acceptance on the speaker.  The person with the talking piece is to speak without interuption and speak from the heart.  My responding to that would be giving feedback to the speaker.  That is an interuption.
So the distracting technique I experience, the story for this post.
     I was participating in a Circle as a community member.  I felt comfortable since I knew so much about how the Circle process worked.  I knew my own style was developing and it was important for me to be open to someone else’s way.  Then I became uncomfortable with the Circle keeper.  She was “correcting” people about how the talking piece was handled.  Her value was that we should be seeking it with our left hand, or taking it from the person, only using our left hand.  The keeper would interupt the process, and point or say something to the person who basically, was doing it wrong.   This way was hard to remember, the piece passed to the left, so you had to use the hand opposite the person who was handing it to you.  I felt shamed and worried I would use the wrong hand and get scolded.  I started to squeeze my left thumb as a reminder to use that hand when accepting the talking piece.  As my mind was here, I realized my heart was not listening to the speaker.  I tried to focus on both.  Then the keeper started doing follow up inquiry questions to the boys in the group.  The boys were not the community members.  As community members we didn’t get follow up questions when we spoke.  I felt uncomfortable with the Circlekeeper, for me it seemed she was acting more powerful than any of us.  I was weighing in my mind that her heart was in the right place.   The Circle was decent some people opened up, I wondered how good and deep we would have gone if we were equals.
I don’t know about your style of Circlekeeping – – I would recommend remembering that you are “one” of the members.  Hold equal worth and value for each person.  I try not to ever interupt, with my body or voice.  If you are a keeper who speaks when not holding the talking piece, take a deep reflection on what it might be doing for the process.  Maybe keeping silent will actually do more.

St Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program – innovative and outstanding!

I’ve got to explain something about  St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice.

We are cutting edge, awesome.  We have taken the Restorative Justice Circle process and applied to two key public health issues – underage drinking and safe teen driving.

We are now offering copies of our MN Public Television Program – the documentary On the Road Together: Safe Teen Driving.  The DVD can be purchased for $15 plus S & H.  If requested a Circle keeping guide to be used after viewing the DVD is available for an additional $10.

This post includes more on the Safe Teen Driving Circles and a link to short video.  This blog contains a specific category for posts on Safe Teen Driving Circles.

If you are looking for a new program to fund, evaluate or research – let’s talk!

SCVRJP is having some positive, positive feedback.  Using Restorative Justice and community members – these programs are creating change.

Both Underage Consumption Panels and Safe Teen Driving Circles are low-cost to implement – for great return.  Please contact us if your agency would be interested in hosting a training session.  Train-the-trainer programming is being developed!

The Restorative Justice storyteller, is a hero, transforming hearts, opening minds.

SCVRJP had a board of directors meeting tonight.  A strategic planning meeting and it went quite well.  I have recently really framed my role as one of support and being a resource to the board.  (it would take an entirely different post to explain).

I offered the resource of having board members tell a story about seeing SCVRJP doing it’s best to fullfill our mission.  The mission is to build and sustain a culture of peace & belonging utilizing restorative justice principles and programs in our community.

The first story was how our victim impact panels make such an influence on people.  The board member has another role in education/required class for the same offenders that attend our required Victim Impact Panel.  He said that in an hour and a half our programs makes more of a different than the 24 hours he has with them. 

In the hour and a half I have them, they are hearing stories.

Restorative Justice speakers/storytellers are victims or offenders – who willinging share their experiences.  The worst thing they ever did, or the worst thing that ever happened to them. 

Think for just a second about telling that story, from your own life. 

What comes to mind for you?  What happened in your life that is the worst.  The worst thing you ever did.  The worse thing that every happened to you.  For most of us, we’ve had pretty run of the mill lives.  Most of us, not all of us.  If you didn’t immediately have something come to mind, and you had to think of it, consider yourself very fortunate.

What if you wanted to tell that story.  Imagine you really, really wanted to talk about the worst thing.  Who do you tell?  Your friends, your family.  Those people have probably heard it, lived through it with you. 

Where would you go to tell this story.  What if it was so traumatic, you can hardly make sense of it.  Maybe saying it outloud helps you get your feet on the ground. 

Restorative Justice offers people a place for their stories.  I LOVE working with speakers.  I LOVE encouraging them.  Speakers know the story better than anyone else.  They become the story, when they let go enough to speak from the heart.  The outcomes are amazing.

In victim impact panels, we ask our audience of offenders, to be the community and witness the stories of our speakers.  We don’t treat them like a “room full of drunks”.  We don’t look down or judge anyone, we encourage a different choice next time.

When victims, offenders and community members come together to do restorative justice, they are creating a NEW story about the harm that happened.  The characters are reassembling.  The victim did not give permission for the vandalism to occur.  The offender did not even know who he harmed.  The incident, the act itself tied victim and offender together – the story told with the same characters helps people finish it up and add another chapter.

Listen to a story today.  Ask someone to tell you a story about someone.  If you get a chance, come hear or tell a story in a Restorative Justice process.

School-Based Restorative Justice – Training Opportunity

FOUR full days of Restorative Justice in Schools – August 3 – 6 River Falls Wisconsin.

STAR Academy sponsored by CESA 11.  To register:  http://www.cesa11.k12.wi.us/prodev/star.cfm

The training will be interactive and fun.  Featuring guest speakers and opportunities to develop your skills!

Please join me!  Call or email with any questions.  715-425-1100 or scvrjp@gmail.com.


Hope to see you there!



A visit on basic Restorative Justice, applying the theory.

Howard Zehr, Goodbooks Publishing
Howard Zehr, Goodbooks Publishing

Author Howard Zehr in the Little Book of Restorative Justice, available at Good Books, uses the Three Pillar Illustration.  As practioners I think we can sometimes drift from this theory.  I know I have, and everytime I return or revist it, I learn more about doing Restorative Justice well.

I hope to catch Howard sometime and ask, why three pillars and four words.
Here’s my take on these pillars, and how we put them into action.
Harms & Needs:  We need to be asking this of our victims, offenders and community members.  The victim’s harms are often what brought the case to our doorstep.  We must remember that people who act violently toward someone else, feel they are justified.  So if you don’t seek understanding about the harm the offender was feeling, you won’t be addressing the justification.
I worked on a case of bullying.  Third grade boys, it had gone on for a year.  Parents thought it was no longer a problem.  The issue resurfaced when a cartoon strip was made, showing the many ways the victim would die.  Explosion, gunshots, bow & arrow.  It was disturbing, the boys involved were disciplined by the school.  The victims Dad requested RJ, we held a Circle with the boys, the parents, the school staff and even a few other 3rd grade boys as community members.  It was a very open, rewarding and productive session.  Tears through apology, community members – the other 3rd grade boys being wise beyond their years.  I started to introduce the last round, I barely finished my statement “anything else you need to say to leave in peace”.  Instead of me finishing and starting the talking piece, the victim got up and selected a piece.  He sat down, and boldly, yet respectfully looked at the primary bully.  “I just want to know why” he said.  All eyes turned to the person with the answer.  Without a second of hesitation, the response.  “Because in 1st grade, you got me in trouble on the bus.  I wanted to sit by my sister and you told on me”.  The victim gave a nod.  Our Circle then took a direction of letting go of the past.
You see the offender was operating from his harm.  Hurt people, hurt people.  He finally got to say it outloud instead of with bad behavior towards someone else.
As a side note, I followed up with the Dad, he said no problems since the Circle.  That was three months after we met.  Sometime one Circle isn’t enough.  I like to make sure we know we can meet again. 
Obligations At first glance it is easy to see – an offender has harmed, that harm creates obligations.  I took your property and your peace of mind.  Now I work to make that right.  I love the victim willing to hold the offender to this.  I think there is an element of an obligation to society.  Service to others is the rent we pay to be on the planet.  (I am rephrasing that from somewhere).  Just like the good old days, our neighbors called our parents if we were naughty.  We have obligations to help each other out.  Most wrong-doing (in my opinion) is more of a mistake or lack of skill.  Who, is going to help those that mess up learn, or gain skill if we don’t do it.  People not institutions, systems or laws – teach people how to behave.  You don’t learn how to act or treat someone from a court room, an hour in detention or a 3 day suspension from school.  You learn how to live, from other people.  We all have obligations to each other.
Engagement.  The ultimate skill for a Restorative Justice practitioner.  You have got to know how to engage people.  Figure out what engages you.  I stumbled on this skill.  I got enthusiastic about Restorative Justice.  That drew people in.  Think of a continuum, on the left is less, on the right is more.  You can be restorative, but doing restorative justice request involvement by the people most connected to the harm.  I use this process.  I listen to victims and bystanders.  I explain a little at a time about restorative justice.  My attempt is for them to understand 1.) they make the call about participating and 2.) they know the options available.  This includes giving me information, sending someone else or attending.  Once they are speaking about what happened, I find a space to suggest that telling that directly to the community and person who did the harm, could be helpful.  Well, most of the time.  One victim was giving me a rant on why don’t those little bastards get a job.  Sometimes I have to listen while thinking what to say back.  In this case the victim wound up the conversation, offering that if he changed his mind and wanted to attend he would call me.  That one was good enough for me.  I held true to the theory – I was working on engagement!
Hope these examples help.

Parents supporting parents in Circle and a service dog named Tonka.

One of the SCVRJP programs is a Victim Empathy Seminar.  I developed it with some help from my friend Jill, a restorative justice practioner and she modeled it after a California program.  Basically it has evolved into a Restorative Justice Talking Circle.  When I made it up, I didn’t feel my community was ready to deal with ‘Circle” programs.  Boy have times changed!  Its becoming a commonly used tool.

Multiple parent-child participation, with community members providing support.  Not always the same crimes and I attempt to get a victim storyteller, but they are in short supply.  One of our volunteers is physcially disabled and he recently brought both his service dog and his brother to Circle with him.  It was really cool to have a service dog in Circle.  Really cool.  

Tonka sat right beside his owner.  As our Circle grew closer and closer, Tonka became more and more relaxed.  It was as if he was on the vibe.  He started off in nature dog state, sitting with his front legs spread on the ground.  Looking around.  At first when the talking piece was passed over his he looked up.  Eventually he was used to that.  Then he just went to sleep.  The next time I looked over, he was completely on his side sprawled out with his head nearly on the feet of the person next to him.  It was oddly the most natural thing.  Tonka brought a bit peace to the Circle it was cool.Service dogs

The other amazing thing was when we had two parents moved to tears.  The parents get to explain to the Circle, what they thought when they realized what had happened.  They explain the impact on themselves and the hardest thing.  (IIRP resource – cards).  One sweet Mom, just got choked up explaining it.  I looked across the Circle at her son, he was clearly engaged.  I like having families witness this in other families.  Another person in the Circle was a codefendent – he got to see just how much somebody else’s Mom was impacted by what they did.  Later in the Circle, a Dad was trying to respond to the Mom, and I can’t remember what he was trying to say.  Seeing a grown man tear up, as he is offering support to a stranger . . . my heart moved, and my memory is of the touching moment, and not so much the exact words.

Another awesome outcome of this Circle.  One young man felt the need to own up to a cycle he had been doing and was going to break.  He openly admitted and confessed that he would get in trouble, wait to build back trust, and go get in trouble again.  He made decisions NOT to get in trouble when trust was low.  See earlier in the Circle a community member offered this example.  When trust gets broken, you put it back together, but its not exactly the same.  When it gets broken again, it gets harder to put back together.  Eventually you haven’t got much to work with.  The Circle really moved on from that example, several people commented to it, and I think it was a real learning point for this young man.

It was one of those “homerun” Circles – closing comments had laughter, appreciation and you could just eat the hope with fork!  I love it!

The really Restorative Mantra . . . Judge None.

Judge None.

Two very simple words.  I like to play around and develop catch phrases for Restorative Jusitce.  I try to keep my “elevator speech” fresh and I try to keep a good batch of Restorative Jusitce “bumper stickers” handy.  About 6 months ago I came up with Judge None as a concept point.  I was doing a volunteer/speaker training.  I knew in the room I would have victims and offenders, willing to speak for SCVRJP.  I started the session with this concept.  It came to mean even more by the end of that Circle and even more today.

The discussion point I was working on, was encouraging speakers not to judge listeners by their body language.  I explained that for some people, what is going on in the inside, is not always apparent on the outside.  Some people lack skill in aligning what they are feeling with what they are projecting.

Another example is the person who is having their defenses broken down.  Whose heart is being touched.  They may defensively respond with negative behavior.  Maybe they have no idea how to act when they feel shame, or overwhelmed.  The point is you cannot judge someone.  Think how sad you are when you cry, or emotionally touched, yet our faces contort like we swallowed a lemon and we never want anyone to see us.

In the training that day, after I talked about not making judgements on listeners, the talking piece was passed.  A story emerged.  The speaker talked about how he was one of those people that sat slumped in his chair.  He didn’t want to be hearing the speakers, he was court ordered to attend.  He came he did it and he left.  He explained how then he couldn’t stop thinking about it.  How his awareness grew, his cousin died from drinking and driving, another family member committed suicide while under the influence.  He was so moved by the Restorative Justice experience, he came to volunteer.  He was now in the training to become a storyteller.  (this person has been a consistent volunteer for 8 months).  In this same Circle, when an experienced speaker heard this, she was completely moved by knowing her storytelling had that powerful of an impact.  All relationships are bilateral.

You can see people blossom in Circle.  Kids will start out, hood down, body language shut down.  Some start with one word answers, and you wonder if they will come around.  At the end they had the most profound change.  You just can’t judge what is happening on the inside by what you see on the outside.

One of our volunteers said something to me, about a particular person in a Circle.  It wasn’t very kind.  I felt bad for a few things.  One the volunteer let that person dictate the Circle experience he had.  When you measure something by what you percieve that someone else did or didn’t get out of it – – your making judgements.  In restorative justice ‘judge none’.  What this volunteer did not know, was that the person he spoke of – – stayed later than everyone else and continued to write out his evaluation comments.  And the feedback was all positive, insightful and appreciative.  From what the volunteer said, this didn’t match up.

The volunteer didn’t stay for the typical volunteer debriefing session.  When you help out as a community member, we have to stay and share in reading evalutions.  Our community members are part of the program, they get to review these.  It increases their investment in the outcome.  The debriefing after this Circle, was like many . . . you have amazing written feedback from someone who didn’t know how to give it verbally and socially in the Circle.

Someone that was acting like he didn’t care – wrote how much he appreciated the community members – and what he didn’t like was that he thought some other people weren’t taking the community members serious.

Supportive, kind, loving, caring enviornments they help people change.  The best way to support is to let go of judgements.  Judge None.  Because just like a seed in the ground, you can’t see when change is taking root.

I shared the written feedback with the volunteer, and clarified staying around after a session to debrief.  As it turns out, the volunteer was feeling like time might have been wasted on someone who didn’t get it.  The feedback really helped the community member feel better.  Lessons learned in supporting community member in understanding others.

Judge None.

I want to pick up my childs life, right where they left off. – surviving parents

Parents who have lost a child are my friends.  Not lost, like I don’t know where they are.  Lost as in deceased, suddenly from a car crash, deceased.  I want the future book “On the Road Together: Safe Teen Driving” to be for these parents.  I have an allegiance, a care, a concern for parents who have lost children.  I don’t know how to say this.  I’m usually not speechless or without words.

I’ll start at the beginning.    

 (just so you know, I’ve starred blankly at the screen for 11 minutes).

Wondering exactly where the begining is.  Why my heart is an ocean of compassion for grieving parents.  I’ve known more than my sharing doing this work.  I’ve gotten unafraid to listen.  I’ve heard common threads.  They do not want their child forgotten.  They find grief and silver linings in the smallest and greatest of places.  Their spirits are amazing.  They pick up and live their lives differently, using the tragic events around their childs death to help others.  They go and tell the story, to prevent another family from feeling the same type of pain.  They take over, or take on the child’s legacy if you will.  I have so much loyalty to that.

I don’t know, and I didn’t plan on going here in this blog post.  Yet, I really trust this is the blog post.

My birthmom – she denied having a meeting with me, nearly 14 years ago.  We’ve never spoken, we’ve never exchanged letters.  She gave me up for adoption, returned home, her own Mother had moved.  I guess she went on to get married and have two boys and a girl.  I think the girls name is Jenny.  I found a cousin who tried to fill in the blanks.  Yet, with the half-siblings  I have no idea how old they are.  They know nothing of me.  I have carried this burden my whole life.   I feel like the last few years, I’ve faced it more head on and was able to heal from it.  See I was told, “she loved you so much, she gave you away”.  My 7, 8 year old brain couldn’t really fathom this concept.  My own parents (adoptive) loved me, but they were ‘keeping me’, did they love me less?  It was a twisted tale on ‘love’ for me.  I used to walk the planet with some attitude.  Why have a chip on just one shoulder, when you could have two!  I had two helpings of “can’t get close to me” and “I’ll leave before you leave, let’s date!”.  Eventually, I worked thru this enough to have to touch a place inside of me.  I finally cried and sobbed, thinking if an animal had done this, (give birth and leave) I would be dead.  But I wasn’t born an animal.  I was born me, and I was meant to be here.

Her actions then/now and any future ones, I’m talking my birthmom here – – her actions do not determine my self worth.   I plowed thru self help books, I had to grieve my adoptive Mom’s cancer and death all over again.  See I never processed this adoption issue, and then grief on grief and loss, gets misfiled, it was all because I was unloveable.  Or so I told myself.  See, the script is supposed to be:  Parents love their kids.  I didn’t get that script in my birthmom.  Now I help people whose children died.  I help them love their kids.  When your kid is on the other side, what can you do for them?

You talk about them.  You think about them.  You develop rituals of when you go to the cemetery, when you light a candle.  The restorative justice storytelling process is a place for parents to do something, and something very good for others.  They have my whole heart with them in this venture.  Because it helps me heal.  It helps with the Parents love their kids truth.

And  now my truth is to love parents who love their kids.  If you are a parent and you have lost your kid.  I’m your friend, and I will do all I can to help you tell your story in a way that touches and changes lives.  Yours and others, including mine.  Thank you.

How I am benefitting from Bikram, and why you might care.

Today’s post is all about Bikram Yoga (link to You Tube).  I blogged about how much I was loving it.  I took another class since then so I am up to three.  Three a week, in three weeks is my goal.  I am focusing on shorter term goals, rather than the bigger goal of losing 40 pounds.

Bikram Yoga Pose
Bikram Yoga Pose

Sorry – got a side story already!  Chatting with a new friend at the National Conference on Restorative Justice.  Where you can chat away with a little more freedom.  Everyone attending is already a strong advocate.  I was sharing how someone told to keep faith.  It took 2,000 to get this justice system, and it could take awhile to change it.  My friend said, “oh yeah!  Like putting on and losing weight.  It didn’t go on overnight and it’s not coming off overnight”.  I immediately bonded to her.  And actually the concept has been pretty helpful – trying to get the system or schools to make little lifestyle changes.

Okay – back to Bikram Yoga.

Benefit – finding my element.  Since I connected to this via life coach, I had to tell my friends about it.  A few times, I heard back, “oh yeah, you like that sweaty stuff”.  Yes, sweating for me, relates to my sweat lodge experiences.  Being part of a ceremony that is about being ‘born again’.  Meaning you process stuff in the lodge, you get to pray, you get healing, healing for your soul or spirit.  You get out of it what you put in.  Being in a sweaty place is my element.  Being in heat – emotionally, physically and spiritually doesn’t bother me, I thrive on it.  I found I am in my element.  Thanks to a TED I watched recently, the speaker said she was in her element when she was on stage.  I thought BINGO!  I am too! 

My stage element, public speaking, training – that’s one of my elements I’ve really worked on.  Thanks goes out to my mentor Jermaine Davis right now.  I went from zero nothing (no contracts)  to getting SCVRJP reimbursed at $1,000 a day for me to train.  I knew that I was called to get in that element, of public speaking/training.  Last week a seasoned professional called me a Master Trainer.  She was telling me after what a great job I did, and that we has spoken and she was impressed, but she had never heard me.  And guess what, I prepared very little.  I was in MY ELEMENT, I was speaking about Restorative Justice in Schools.  Plus, I usually train on it for days and I had to fill 45 minutes.  None the less, I was in front of that group, confident, note free and I was funny!  I loved it and the audience loved me.   I was in my flow.

How does this related to Bikram Yoga – – I found another element to master.  I’m challenged with Bikram, I’ve got a long way to go.  Yet I have made unbelieveable progress for three classes.  It’s crazy amazing.  I like the out of the ordinary.  To get this element more in my life I am doing things I’ve never done for exercise.

I had to buy new clothes.  I don’t have short/shorts, I’ve felt fat for the last 2 or 3 years.  You need short shorts, with all the sweating.  Then I cleared a drawer out, a space for ONLY my Bikram clothes.  Seldom do I plan ahead.  I have four identified classes to go to next week.  Just in case something comes up and I have to miss one.

My new element has new things.  I walked into one session and I was the first woman there.  Wow, three men at yoga, I never saw that before.  Confidence in my body, and I’ve seen some great ones in the class, and some that were softer, bigger than mine.  I feel good about me, when I see a 2o something leave the room overwhelmed by heat.  Or the skinny girl that is resting and not even trying the moves, and I am.  As I embrace this element, it will help me with others.

I claimed Restorative Justice and Circles as an element of mine years ago, and I can see how beneficial that has been.

Why you should care . . .

what is your element?  what elements are you thriving in?  what are you doing to nuture yourself in these elements? How are you bring your whole self in line with your elements?

Developing our elements is developing our belonging.  Go for it!

Restorative Justice is victim centered, we all have obligations to support each other.

There are three responses to victimization.  Revenge, Retaliation and Restoration.

At first people think the first two are the same.  They are different, think of revenge going out and retaliation going in.

Revenge can turn some victims into a victimizer.  I’ve seen it happen on many occassions.  The person harmed is so angry they want to add as much restitution as possible.  The worth of a broken vase is very little to the offender.  To the victim the item had great sentimental value.  The loss of trust and security for the victim, cannot be put in dollars and sense.  The formal justice system can only deal with dollars and sense. 

Side story.  I really wanted to get a case to Restorative Justice.  A teen girl was home alone, invited three boys over.  When she and one boy were alone, the other two decided to start stealing.  When glass shattered the girl wondered what had happened, went to investigate and the boys all took off.  They had been drinking at the time.

The Dad gets a call, from his daughter “we’ve been robbed”.  They are worried for her, rush home.  His clothes were taken, even his house slippers.  One thing that was left outside smashed was heart wrenching.  When Dad was serving in Vietnam he and 5 buddies went on R & R.  They all signed a bottle.  Only two of the men are still alive.  He carried that bottle through life and had planned for it to go in his coffin.  Now it was gone. 

I saw this Dad as a great guy, he reminded me of my own Dad.  He got himself sober, about 30 years ago, started a sober Motorcycle club, and was a volunteer Emergency Medical staff.  He acknowledged being quite the badass in his day.  He gave back via volunteer service.  He acknowledged it was to payback for wrongs he had committed.  I am pretty sure he even spent some time in jail.

I never got to do Restorative Justice.  The Offenders were so pissed off.  They were pissed they were coping with felonies.  Pissed off that the restitution was so high.  Pissed off because they were drunk, and she let them in.  They really saw what had happened as minimilizing.

When I had met with the Dad, he made some comments.  He wanted to tell these boys he could have used a different system of justice.  He wasn’t meaning my little non-profit, talking piece kind of justice.  He knew his angry would have to be controlled.  He acknowledged this and we had a completely seperate meeting to address this.

The offenders never got to a point of accepting they caused harm.  One drifted in and out of jail, the other was so focused on how he had been wronged.  I was getting the urge to yell at him.  The ultimate hurdle is harm . . . RJ repairs harm not causes harm.  I use this as a measure and I couldn’t get a sense we would have physical safety during the conference.  I screened the case our of conferencing.

See Revenge is out – towards others.  And when a formal system seeks revenge it impacts people is away that they don’t take obligations for fear of more revenge.  (the point of the story above).

Retaliation goes in.  This is the victim that starts to blame themselves, or takes responsibility for the crime.  If only I had ______.  Then this would not have happened.  Retaliation can mean you get a alarm system or you no longer leave your car unlocked.  It can go outward, now you treat all people that look like your victimizer the same way.  I have a friend and she says she doesn’t have to like Indians because she experienced one threaten her with a broken bottle. 

I’m really simplifying the Revenge, Retaliation and Restoration.  I just want you to be aware of these three.  Just like the stages of grief people can revist these.  When you work with victims explore these concepts and ideas, see what the vicitm things and feels.  It was in talking this over with that Dad, I learned so much about him, and he knew what revenge he could have done.

We will also experience feels when we put restorative justice in motion.  Be aware of your own stuff.  Make sure you know what is going on inside of you – related to responding to the crime.  And I must note, again – Restorative Justice is NOT for everyone.  If you feel it is for you and you have been a victim of a crime – you have options.  Find a good program and explore those options.  You can speak to the offender directly in your case.  You can speak to others that had done a similiar crime, or are on a path to committ a similiar crime.  You can tell your story to help others. 

Restoration is not a one size here is the recipe to get there.  Restoration is as individual as each crime and each person.  Restoration does not always mean Restorative Justice, it is just one of the options.  I don’t know what else the formal system offers that supports this so I encourage crime victims to explore Restorative Justice.