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Providing opportunities to repair harm


What is Victim Offender Dialogue?

Guided by a restorative justice framework, Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD) is a safe, structured, victim-centered meeting, led by a trained, impartial facilitator that allows a victim to meet with an offender who has committed a crime against them, their family or their property. The purpose of VOD is for all parties to be heard; to discuss the harm done, the impact of that harm, and opportunities for repairing the harm. Likewise, VOD assists participants with seeing each other as individuals.

What are the benefits?

The dialogue allows all parties the opportunity to speak face to face with one another, to ask questions, express feelings and share the impact of the crime.

In what types of cases is VOD helpful?

  • In homicide and violent crimes, especially those where there is a plea agreement reached, VOD can provide a victim's family information and answers that will not be provided in a court hearing. It also allows them the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings that are not voiced in court to the offender.
  • In employee theft cases, VOD can assist the victim with an understanding of how and why the crime was committed. Since these cases often involve a prior, personal relationship between the two, VOD can help with the healing process after that crime.
  • In home theft cases, VOD can allow the victim to ask questions in order to understand the circumstances of the crime. Through talking with the offender and sharing the impact, as well as hearing the story of the offender, the victim can often reestablish feelings of safety. If sentimental items were taken, the victim can relay the meaning of those items and inquire if they are able to be returned to their possession or what happened to the items. Children can benefit from VOD as they personally meet a responsive human being and thus are often able to reduce their fear of an imagined “boogey-man monster.”

What is the role of the mediator?

Prior to the VOD meeting, the facilitator will talk with both the victim and offender to assess the appropriateness of the meeting, including participant attitudes, safety, prior relationship, victimization trauma, and other factors. If determined to be helpful to participants, the facilitator will then inform both the victim and offender about the process, as well as work with them to prepare for the in-person meeting. The facilitator will guide the dialogue between the victim and offender, and ensure the victim and offender feel safe during the process.

What if I am interested in participating?

If the crime happened in Allen or Putnam counties and you would like to explore the possibility of participating in a Victim Offender Dialogue, VOD facilitators from Crime Victim Services can discuss the process with you. ​For more information, contact: Erin Ostling Burkholder
Violence Prevention Coordinator | VOD Coordinator

It is not uncommon for victims to want to express their feelings to an offender face to face or to want further information from the offender about the crime. VOD is an opportunity to assist victims in meeting those needs.

Victims in Allen or Putnam counties may ask at any time for a VOD by calling Crime Victim Services. Offenders whose victims were in these two counties may participate in VOD when contacted by Crime Victim Services, by a referral from the court or defense attorney, or by making a request themselves to Crime Victim Services. Our staff will assess offender requests as to their appropriateness before making any contact with their victim(s). All VOD meetings are voluntary and, even in court referred cases, the victim may choose not to participate.

For more information

Erin Ostling Burkholder

Director of Outreach & Prevention | VOD Coordinator


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