Safe Dialogue Process
In general, the dialogue process goes as follows, although each dialogue is tailored to fit the expressed needs of the actual participants. Also, prior to the session, participants sign informed consent waivers authorizing audio taping of the dialogue. The audiotapes provide essential tools in “follow-up” counseling sessions. The tapes are for counseling and training purposes only, are confidential, and remain the property of DVSD.
Each participant will attend a pre-dialogue meeting led by DVSD facilitators with his or her support person — done meeting for the survivor and one for the offender.
Pre-dialogue interviews typically:
- Last 30 minutes
- Describe the dialogue process to the participants
- Provide basic info about the Offender to the Survivor and vice versa
- Preview the participant’s story and questions with the facilitators
- Determine order of storytelling — survivor chooses who goes first
- Define boundaries for the conversation
- Define personal goals of the dialogue
- Define desired outcomes of the dialogue
If, after the pre-dialogue interview, either participant wishes to back out of the program, they may do so. At no time during the process are they obligated to continue their participation.
- Each participant will engage in ONE dialogue with an unrelated survivor or offender
- Each dialogue will include six to seven people
1. One Survivor (unrelated to Offender)
2. One Offender (unrelated to Survivor)
3. One personal advocate — such as a counselor — per participant
4. Two DVSD-trained facilitators — usually one male and one female
5. Videographer, when requested (tapes remain confidential and property of DVSD)
- Date and time of the dialogue are mutually agreed upon.
- The location of the dialogue is determined by the survivor.
- Session length is determined by the participants (usually between two and three hours).
- Each participant tells his or her story.
- Each participant gets a chance to ask questions after the stories. Usually the questions are prepared beforehand, crafted by the survivor/offender and their personal advocates.
- There is at least one break per session.
- Immediately following the dialogue, the male and female facilitators separately interview the survivor and the offender to learn their initial reactions to their experiences.
- The survivor always goes first. While the offender is in the post-dialogue interview, the survivor leaves the site, ensuring there is no further contact between them.
- Participants may request security escorts to their vehicles following the sessions, if desired.
- Follow-up counseling sessions for each participant are required.