Bringing Peacemaking/Healing Circles to My Community
What are Peacemaking/Healing Circles?
Peacemaking Circles are an approach to domestic violence that bring partners who have been abusive together with willing family members, support persons, a trained professional facilitator, and community volunteers. These Circles carefully monitor the safety of the family, encourage dialogue about the incident(s), explore gender dynamics, uncover the family’s history of violence, and create meaningful change. The Peacemaking Circle model is flexible, culturally sensitive, and works with the criminal justice and/or child welfare system to bring about healing and transformation in individuals, families and communities.
Healing Circles involve a similar approach as Peacemaking Circles but are used preventatively as abusive dynamics are escalating within a family. Healing Circles can also be used for a variety of issues besides domestic violence, including community conflict, child welfare issues, and prison-based healing and re-entry work.
What does Circle Keeper training entail?
Each training is unique and specifically tailored to the needs of your agency and community. Trainings usually include a familiarization with the Circle process, a deep exploration of values and organizational/community goals, demonstrations and role-plays. Trainings also address the crucial step of designing and implementing an evaluation component for your program to ensure safety and to measure outcomes.
Are Peacemaking Circles Safe/Effective?
The Circles of Peace program was a part of a National Science Foundation-funded study in Nogales, Arizona. Although the study is currently in the peer review process, the results indicate that this study provides evidence that a restorative justice treatment approach can be a viable and safe option for domestic violence offenders. Furthermore, the findings suggest that victim participation in restorative justice is not dangerous per se and falsify the claim that it is dangerous to use restorative justice for domestic violence. Several earlier studies also indicate that Circle-based programs can reduce domestic-violence recidivism, change family dynamics for the better, and involve the community in responding to domestic violence.
How do I bring Peacemaking Circles/Healing Circles into my community?
Please call New York University’s Center on Violence and Recovery at (212) 998-2359 or online at email@example.com. We can talk you through the best approach for your community’s needs.
“I was desperate and didn’t have many options for all the couples cycling in and out of my courtroom. I knew these couples, often with young children, were living together and would continue to do so. [The Circle program] has completely changed how our community thinks about how to address domestic violence. We finally have a way of healing the violence and dealing with the underlying issues.”
- Judge Mary Helen Maley, Founder, Circles of Peace, Nogales, AZ, one of the “Top 50 Innovations in American Government” by Harvard University’s Ash Institute in 2008.
“Healing Circles speaks to the lived experiences of the clients we have seen, in which the strong relationships that exist between spouses and their families can be brought into the treatment arena. In the process, we hope to increase understanding in the community of the complex dynamics that operate within these high conflict families.”
- Esther East, Executive Director, Jewish Family Service of Passaic, NJ