DVSD is providing a cutting-edge intervention in the area of domestic violence: Survivor Impact Panels. A DVSD Survivor Impact Panel (SIP) involves a group of three or four domestic violence survivors who speak briefly about the impact of domestic violence on their lives. The audience is made up of participants in battering intervention programs (BIP) who have been identified as appropriate for this sort of experience. DVSD recommends that clients have at least 26 weeks in a battering intervention program before being referred to a SIP, as well as strong accountability and empathy. The panel does not blame or judge those who listen. They simply tell their stories, describing how their lives and the lives of their families and friends were affected by the abuse.
Benefit to the Community and the Offender:
If the survivors’ stories are told first-hand and from the heart, in a tone neither blaming nor accusatory tone, they can serve as a vital step in breaking the cycle of violence by:
- allowing offenders, perhaps for the first time, to consider the pain and suffering their abusive behavior can have on other people;
- helping offenders learn empathy and accept accountability for their own actions;
- giving offenders an opportunity to listen to a stranger’s story, which can help them listen more openly than they have ever listened to their own victim;
- increasing awareness that abuse is not the victims’ fault but it stems from the abuser’s power and control issues, externalization, or egotism; and
- changing behavior and saving lives.
Benefit to the Panelists:
- empowerment by telling their stories to offenders of domestic violence;
- empowerment by sharing their story publicly;
- empowerment by knowing that their stories will have an impact on offenders of domestic violence and their families; and
- empowerment knowing that they are participating in a program directly involved in breaking the generational cycle of violence.