Part 4: Victim and Offender – After the Meeting
Two weeks after the dialogue, Viki and I met one final time with the victim and the offender about the impact of the dialogue, giving them enough time to process the experience. We met with Dillon first. He told us that after the dialogue, he said it was difficult to explain, but he felt like a heavy weight had been lifted from him. During the months that we were preparing for the dialogue, Dillon’s grandmother and grandfather passed away. Dillon told us that after the dialogue, he was able to process the grief from losing both of them. He also said that the burning hatred he had for the offender that was always with him, was now gone. Although the hate was gone, he wasn’t at a place that he could say he could offer forgiveness, but Dillon said seeing the offender in person made him realize that the offender was a human not a monster, and said that he believed the offender was genuinely remorseful, and that he was on a positive course of personal action and accountability. Dillon said it mattered to him that his offender had genuine remorse, but still didn’t know how he felt about the idea of the offender ever coming out of prison. Dillon said going through the dialogue process, and the actual face to face meeting was one of the best things he ever did.
When we met with the offender, he also said it felt like a heavy weight was removed from him. He said he was so nervous about meeting Dillon, afraid to face the pain he caused, but he was so glad he did it. He said that seeing Dillon’s raw pain, made his remorse and regret he already had, more pointed. The dialogue with Dillon reinforced his determination to change his life, and if he ever had the opportunity to be back in the free world, he wanted to dedicate his life change to Dillon and his family.
Not every victim of crime would want this kind of experience. But those victims who have participated in victim / offender dialogue in the past have shared similar impacts as Dillon. If you know a victim who may be interested in this process have them contact our office for more details. Verna.firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by: Verna Wyatt, Co-Founder of Tennessee Voices for Victims