Domestic Violence and Mediation
If you are afraid of your ex-partner for any reason, you must let your mediator know. All court cases referred to mediation are routinely screened for domestic violence. You and your ex-partner will be asked a list of questions by the intake person or mediator separately and confidentially. Your answers to these questions will determine if you are a victim of domestic violence so that the mediator can assess your case for appropriateness for mediation.
Many cases are not appropriate for mediation. However, since self determination is one of the basic principals of the mediation process, the decision of whether to mediate or not should be made by the abused party and the mediator together.
It is important to let the mediator know if you feel you are in danger of being physically or emotionally abused during the mediation session or outside of mediation. The mediator can offer referrals for services to victims and abusers. They can also take measures to protect everyone's safety when the mediation takes place and during interim periods between mediation sessions.
If you are a victim of domestic violence and wish to try mediation, don't hide the fact that you are a victim. Talk openly with your mediator so you can work together to use mediation as an empowering tool in achieving the best outcome for your and your children's future.
Many domestic violence victims are able to say what they think is best for their children when they find themselves in a safe and confidential environment such as mediation. Mediators are also trained to deal with power imbalances between parties that are usually the case between a batterer and his victim. Mediators also have other tools such as caucusing or meeting with individuals separately during the mediation. The mediator may also use shuttle mediation, where the parties are in separate rooms during the entire mediation.
Should you and your mediator decide to go forward with mediation, you will still have all the tools available to you for protection, such as protective orders, advocacy provided by a women's shelter program, court prosecution of assault and battery or malicious wounding, and the right to request anger control counseling for the abuser. You can also build into your mediated agreement safety plans for exchanging the children. Your mediated agreement is submitted to the court and signed by the Judge making it a court order with law enforcement and judicial remedies available.
Depending on the severity and frequency of the abuse you have endured, you may find mediation to be an extremely helpful tool in the restructuring of your family.