Publication Date

Winter 2022


Restorative justice for cases of sexual harm offers a trauma-informed and evidence-based approach to healing and prevention that current criminal legal options do not. The literature is clear that current sex crimes policies and practices have been ineffective at reducing rates of sexual violence. Similarly, current criminal legal practices fail to hold people accountable for the sexual harms they’ve caused and do little to support survivors who come forward. Unlike the criminal legal system, restorative justice provides survivors with a safe platform within which to talk about their experience(s) of sexual harm on their terms and voice their individual needs and desires regarding true accountability. The process offers those who have caused sexual harm to take responsibility for their actions, to engage in an educative process that helps them understand the impacts of the trauma they inflicted and engages them in taking concrete actions to remain accountable to and to make authentic, sustained amends. This Article discusses the impacts of the criminal legal system on individuals who have been sexually harmed, explains underreporting, police interactions, and case attrition. Part II frames the reasons why post-conviction sex crimes policies are ineffective at reducing rates of sexual offending or addressing the needs of individual who have experienced sexual harm. Part III explains the root causes of sexually harmful behavior. Part IV sets the stage for an introduction to restorative justice. Part V expands on the authors’ individual journeys to restorative justice as sex crimes experts and rape survivors. Part VI focuses exclusively on restorative justice as a means to address sexual harm. Lastly, Part VII concludes with the hope of a restorative future.

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