Restorative justice event addresses sexual violence

Tue, Nov 20, 2018

Since 2017, the #MeToo movement has garnered greater awareness about sexual assault and sexual harassment. With high profile public figures being publicly shamed, blamed and in some cases, taken to court, experts working in the restorative justice field say punishment is not always the answer.

“Many victims and survivors are not calling for this punitive response but want to share their stories and have their experiences acknowledged,” says Alana Abramson, a criminology instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. 

“Other survivors are asking for a range of options to respond to these cases that will allow for safety, responsibility taking, and meaningful justice.”

During Restorative Justice Week, KPU will host a talk on restorative justice and how to address sexualized violence in universities. The keynote speaker is Alan Edwards, an award-winning Restorative Justice Practitioner who has worked in the field for over 20 years. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, he has delivered many workshops on the topic and worked with organizations to develop restorative initiatives on sexualized violence.

“Restorative justice provides an opportunity for victims and survivors to have both voice and choice in response to harm. The goal is to address harm and start to address the complexities of healing people and relationships,” says Abramson, the organizer of the restorative justice event at KPU.

She says the restorative approach can involve direct and indirect communication between victim and survivors and the people who harmed them.

“These opportunities provide people the opportunity to share their perspectives, ask questions, and explore ways to move forward. When it comes to restorative justice approaches in cases of sexualized violence, victims and survivors should play a central role in deciding if, when and how any communication is to take place.”

Abramson adds that the restorative processes might occur alongside formal judicial processes.

“We hope this event raises awareness about the benefits and challenges associated with providing restorative justice opportunities to victim/survivors, people who cause harm, and their families and communities. We hope to demonstrate that there are alternatives to punitive responses to harm that can be more helpful,” says Abramson.

The event takes place November 23, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at KPU Surrey Conference Centre. For more information, visit