She forgave her rapist, now she wants to help others heal too
TORONTO – Marlee Liss, who opted for a restorative justice process with her rapist, rather than a criminal trial, has started an organization aimed at educating other sexual assault victims about their rights and the potential benefits of doing the same.
“The trial was a really awful experience,” Liss said on CTV’s Your Morning Monday. “I just found that the punitive process was the least consensual process… such a disempowering experience, to sit on the stand to be drilled with questions that are so invasive and personal to me, and to be met with disbelief.”
In contrast, Liss found the process of restorative justice was “immensely healing,” and an “opportunity for reclamation” of her voice – something the court process lacked.
Now she has started her own organization, called Re-Humanize, to educate people on the benefits of the restorative justice process, and that the criminal justice system is not their only option when facing their abuser.
The Re-Humanize organization bases their work on the eight core values of; love, empathy, repair, social context, forgiveness, authenticity, courage and pleasure, according to their website.
“I think the fact that we’ve equated justice with punishment is a huge disservice to us and I would really like to make [justice] synonymous with healing,” Liss said.
Liss said her rapist “experienced extensive therapy, consent education, [and] unlearning the patriarchy” as part of the process, and she feels “very reassured” he won’t re-offend and will change his life.
Although Liss acknowledges that the restorative justice process “is not the right option for everyone,” she says victims of rape and other abuse “have a right to know that it exists” and that it should be “way more accessible.”
“I think this actually enhances public safety, I think there are so many statistics that show that incarceration leads to recidivism, more violence and re-offence,” she said. “I think that restorative justice places incarceration rightfully as a last resort.”