The cases of the sexual assaults had occurred over the whole period of human existence. Many factors can cause a severe offensive behaviour of one person towards another. Psychological issues, mental diseases, inappropriate social background, and even the high level of testosterone are the main reasons for people to become offenders and provide sexually assaulting actions (Kingston et al., 2012). Since the “sexual assault” is a generalized meaning for sexual intimacy against a person’s will, it contains many faces: rape, marital rape, forcible object penetration, unwanted sexual touching, incest, sexual harassment, and many other. All abovementioned types of assault are severely grievous crime and they are almost equal in a degree of a criminal act. Thus, being raped by a total stranger is equal to being raped by the own husband or a relative.
A person can be assaulted in many ways, and all kinds of assault go with the severe consequences for his or her mental and physical health. Psychological changes may happen when the absolute control over own body is taken away by force. Any kind of the sexual assault always has an impact on the person’s behave. In many cases, a violation is the main reason for the suicides. To prevent all negative consequences from all kinds of the sexual assaults many victim-offender mediation programs have been provided. Mediation between sexually assaulted victims and their offenders have a lot of positive sides for victims and for the whole social system as well.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Mediation for the Victims
Since 1990, mediation programs for sexual assault victims and offenders have widely spread on the territory of the United States and Europe (Shipley & Arrigo, 2012). With this kind of mediation any victim can get a qualified social assistance and support that will help to overcome mental injuries caused by the sexual violation. Any victim-offender mediation is designed mostly for victim’s benefits and restoring justice, as well as to provide all kinds of help with the acceptance and overcoming the fact of being assaulted. Therefore, no person can go back in time and change what had happened, it is highly important for all victims to feel support from relatives, friends and the legislative system. Simple knowing that the offender is officially punished by the law is not enough for the victim to feel safe again, and to admit that justice has been restored. For all victims, it is highly important to see, that their offenders repent on their sins and will never make any assaulting actions again. The victim-offender mediation helps people who were physically and emotionally abused to see their offender face-to-face and express feelings. Within the scope of these programs, a victim has a direct opportunity to face his or her offender in the completely safe conditions, and ask any questions.
Such programs are designed mainly for victims to prevent psychological shifts in their conscience after the sexual assault. Since assaults, especially sexual assaults, always had a great effect on mental health condition of the victims, it is highly important to help them with the acceptance and the stress coping. One of the best ways for victims to accept their pain is to see the psychologist. Unfortunately, having sessions with the psychologist may not fully help with the solving of this kind of personal issue. Within mediation, a victim can face his own offender, feeling safe physically and emotionally. Also, with the presence and assistance of properly trained mediators, the victims are able to ask any questions they want, tell the offenders about their thoughts, and express how they feel about the act of the sexual violence against them.
Victim-offender mediations have negative sides as well. Some victim-offender mediation programs may have a pressure on victims with restraining their anger. These actions affect victims even more because they have no opportunity to express true feelings directly to the offender, and thus, the offender may not realize the level of done emotional and physical injury. Also, there is a possibility for the victim to observe his or her offender expressing no regret about all the harm that has been done (Barbaree, & Marshall, 2008). Obviously, such inappropriate offender’s behaviour causes even more psychological traumas for the victim’s mental health. Thus, with the high possibility, the victim may not ever be fully recovered from the psychological injury.
Victim-Offender Mediation: Benefits for the Offenders
In many cases, the offender does not pay attention to victim’s feelings in the court. Moreover, during the court trials, most offenders feel sorry only for them, and ignore victim’s state (McGlynn, Westmarland, & Godden, 2012). A very high possibility of sexual assault backslide can happen with this kind of attitude. However, participating in victim-offender mediation helps offenders to gain new understanding of the devastating effect they caused with criminal actions.
Victim-offender mediation has plenty of benefits for offenders as well. Within the framework of the mediation program, the offenders have a direct opportunity to explain the reasons of provided sexual assaulting actions towards their victims, and to tell about personal problems and issues. Main benefits for offenders are to see personal violation and how it reflects on victim’s further life, and thus, to take responsibility for the sexual crime that cannot be undone. Also, they have a great chance to apologize for done violation directly to the own victim. In the case, if the offender takes a direct participation in mediation and behaves properly, these actions can help with the commutation of sentence provided by the court order. Also, victim-offender mediation needs to be provided for avoiding repeated relapse into crime in the future. The offenders are responsible for their actions and general behavior during mediation, and they have to plan everything they do or say carefully to avoid the forthcoming of the new negative implications.
One of the main requirements for the offenders is to make no excuses for their criminal behave. One may think that explanations and excuses are equal but in the reality these are two absolutely different meanings. Explanations imply the feeling of remorse, unlike excuses, when the offender believes in own innocence and tries to convince the others of it. Sometimes, during mediation the offender does not need to say anything to the victim but only to listen to what he or she says. Moreover, it is very important for many victims to tell everything they have in mind directly to their offender and to know that this person would listen to the every single word they say (Liebmann, Bowers, & Bitel, 2011). In fact, all victims have full rights to their feelings of anger, disgust and sadness, and offenders must respect it, because they were the only reason for it.
Unfortunately, victim-offender mediation cannot cure the offender’s problems with violence, but it can help to have a look on own actions from the other side and to understand the impact of own violating actions. In some cases, such mediations can absolutely change offender’s way of thinking, so one would never want to sexually assault other people in the future. Most victims want to know their offenders realize not only the harm they did while sexual assault but also what effect offenders caused after those actions. Moreover, they want to hear the apology and to see honest regret. According to all abovementioned, many victims can receive what they want mostly on victim-offender mediations.