Victim offender mediation is a process that one takes to speak to the person or person who committed a violent crime either against yourself or a relative. The process usually takes quite a bit of time- there’s plenty involved which I’ll get into later but for now I just want to describe the process. In my case my brother and his best friend were murdered by four people who are now imprisoned for life.
With all that said… Victim Offender Mediation is a process that I’m participating in because I believe it to be the right decision. The mediation is a process because there are many steps to take. There’s paperwork to fill out. There’s an inventory to do. There are questions to answer. And then there is a conversation to be had. That conversation is the culmination of that process. Some might say that THAT conversation is the mediation but really the mediation process starts long before.
My mediator has been meeting with the first of the four (we only do one at a time) murderers that committed the crime against my brother once a month every month in person since we started this process months ago. Once a month that same mediator has been speaking with me by phone (because I do not live in the state where the murder/mediation is going to take place) once a month every month since this process started. The mediator has been a go between- answering questions, finding answers and ensuring that this event will be both productive and healthy for us. Were the offender not remorseful this process would not take place. If I were seeking vengeance this would not take place. The mediator is there to ensure that motives and intention are in the right place.
The process is anonymous. This is important for various reasons. Many people who know me will be reading this so you’ll know who I am but I won’t mention my brother’s name, his friends names, the murderer’s names or even my own (though occasionally proper nouns will be important and in those cases the names will have been changed). The state where it took place, the town and county will be left out and you won’t find mention of where the offenders are imprisoned now or where they were when the trials happened. To the best of my ability I will keep the specifics to myself; for the purposes here they are really quite unimportant.
Additionally, the conversations I have with the offender are also confidential. I won’t be talking about the content of that conversation but I will talk about my reactions, emotional process and everything else. The mediator who is working with me? Those conversations are also confidential too; but again, my process and reactions to that process are important and will be discussed. Occasionally what we talk aboutwill spark something in me emotionally- those things may be mentioned but only in ways that are relevant to my own process.
But why do I think this is the right thing to do? Why is this so very important to me? In the last year and a half, since my son was born pretty much, I have come to find the kinder and gentler me. I want him to grow up knowing that the world can be a softer and more loving place; I want him to understand that the only way that’s going to happen is if we ourselves participate in actions that are kinder and gentler that what has been done to us. My little boy has shown me that this painful process is also worth it. If I can make this just a little bit better, a little bit more kind a little bit more merciful then I’m going to do that.
He will also be going with me when I travel to the mediation. He’s still breastfed so this is, in part, a practical choice but it’s more than that. He loves me so well. His love knows unknown bounds. He wraps his entire little 15-month-old arms around my legs and hugs me hard when I’m happy, sad, mad or joyful. He loves me the same. It is that love that will keep me going AND it is that need of his that will remind me what the world is about. Either way.
The journey begins.