Case 1: Jane
Jane was in her 30s when she reported to police sexual abuse she had experienced as a teenager by a respected church member. The offender denied the abuse but was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to prison. After a long and difficult court process Jane still needed an admission from the offender before she could start to move on with her life. With the help of Project Restore, Jane and the offender took part in a restorative justice conference upon his release back into the community.
The offender acknowledged abusing Jane and agreed to work with a psychologist to disclose his abuse of other victims. Project Restore supported a church meeting to disclose that offending had occurred in order to see if other members required support. For the first time in more than 20 years Jane no longer felt afraid of the offender and she felt that justice had been served.
“ I am really pleased I did the meeting, I no longer have the crazy belief that I made it all up. It was important to hear him say that he did it.”
Case 2: Jack
As a young teen Jack loved sport and his passion for the game was nurtured by a leading sports figure who took a special interest in mentoring boys during their numerous trips away. The coach sexually abused Jack and his teammates and this offending was only revealed to police a decade later when Jack became a father. The offender pleaded guilty and prior to his jail sentence agreed to enter into restorative justice. Jack used the conferencing process to understand the extent of the abuse committed against him and also to encourage his offender to reveal other victims.
With the help of Project Restore, Jack told his parents of the abuse for the first time. His parents were devastated by the breach of trust and betrayal from a man they considered to be a pillar of society. In addition to acknowledging the harm he had inflicted, the offender agreed to pay reparation and attend a sexual offending programme. Jack experienced a sense of empowerment in finally being able to share his story with his family and this has strengthened his relationship with his parents, partner and son. Jack’s parents were able to make better sense of his behavior at the time of the offending and support him with moving on with his life.
Case 3: Lelei
Five-year-old Lelei’s parents were separated and it was common for her and her siblings to sleep in the same room as their father when he visited their grandmother’s house. When Lelei’s mother took to her the doctor it was discovered she had a sexually transmitted disease. Lelei’s father pleaded guilty to rape and was sentenced to prison. He agreed to take part in restorative justice and with the help of Project Restore the offender and the wider family tackled the difficult issues of long-standing inter-generational abuse, the culture of silence, and consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. Because of her age Lelei was represented throughout the conferencing process by her mother.
The family struggled to believe that Lelei’s father was capable of sexual abuse and it took for him to say to them, “I did it”, to break this circle of denial. With the help of Project Restore, the family accessed funding from Whānau Ora so Lelei could receive help from a child psychologist and community agencies stepped in to support the family. Lelei’s father agreed to complete treatment for sexual offending and the wider family is starting to heal with a greater understanding of how to keep their children safe.