These questions are for your consideration and reflection, as they may raise issues you haven’t considered in this context, and help you begin to think about preparing for a VOD. It’s not unusual for the answers to change during the preparation process – and even during the VOD itself.
What are your main objectives, at this point, for a Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD) with the Offender?
- Do you want him/her to understand some of the initial and continuing emotional impacts and effects of what s/he did, upon you and your family?
- Do you want him/her to explain (not excuse) why s/he made the choices s/he did?
- Do you want him/her to take full personal responsibility for what s/he did?
- Do you want something other or additional from the VOD with him/her?
What kinds of things could make the VOD go “wrong” for you?
- If s/he tries to minimize his responsibility, by blaming his/her choices to do what s/he did on alcohol or drugs or age or family history, or other factors?
- If s/he tries to subtly (or even overtly) blame the victim for what s/he did?
- If s/he claims to have “blacked out” certain (important-to-you) aspects of what s/he did, such that s/he says he “can’t remember” all or part of what s/he did?
- If you get the sense that s/he thinks of what happened as an “accident” that was beyond his/her control, and is “sorry,” but only in words, and not in a real feeling way?
What do you want him/her to take away from the VOD with you?
- If s/he is one day to be released, and perhaps even to your community or county, how do you want him/her to understand his/her “place” in the community?
- Is it important to you that s/he come away with some understanding of the devastation s/he caused, and how anniversaries, holidays, and other “triggers” can still affect you?
- Do you want him/her to have changed his behaviors, and to do his/her part to “carry” his/her share of the burden s/he left you and your family with, in the aftermath of his/her actions?
- Or do you want him/her to not be burdened by the impacts and effects of his/her actions?