Trauma and Restorative Justice : 8 specialists to learn from

Trauma awareness is important to restorative responses but there is less understanding on how to formally integrate it into practice. These eight RJ World speakers shed light on ways to work with individuals and communities facing trauma.

Kerri Quinn (USA)

Kerri Quinn has been a mediator, facilitator and peace weaver for 15 years. Concurrently an adjunct professor of organizational conflict resolution and leadership at Creighton University Law School and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, she is also partner and consultant for Restorative Way based in Colorado. The organization she passionately works for believes in weaving elements of empathy and accountability in a variety of settings ranging from schools to workplaces.

Recognizing the dire need for trauma-responsive restorative communication practices, she has developed specialized training for schools and victim advocates.

In her FIRST presentation she focuses on the underlying dynamics of conflict and language tools to pivot a conflict conversation to focus on the needs of the parties, understand the impact of conflict, and ultimately create lasting resolution. Her core area of trauma responsive restorative communication tackles conflict in a novel way.Viewing “conflict as an opportunity for rebuilding trust, mutual respect, and accountability” her work has been used throughout the USA in schools, correctional facilities, families for profit and non-profit victims’ organizations.

Her SECOND presentation explores the “unwanted bond” created when a person is harmed by another individual, the implications of such a bond and stages of trauma experienced by and offenders. Her captivating stories from high risk victim offender dialogues

Stories are shared from (murder and vehicular homicide cases) that successfully broke this bond and allowed for restoration and healing.

Kerri has facilitated over 1000 restorative intervention dialogues. Her work in building successful restorative justice programming has established her as a “restorative thought-leader” in the state of Colorado.

She is also the co-author of the book “Building Trauma-Responsive Restorative Cultures” (2018)

Leaf Seligman (USA)

Leaf Seligman is an author and restorative justice practitioner with a teaching experience of over thirty years. Moved by the feeling of disconnection, Leaf connected with the invisible in the society from a tender age and has since worked towards making the stories of the marginalised – prisoners be heard. Taking up teaching and writing to prisoners which has changed many lives.

Seligman takes us through her journey of disconnection and connection in this moving talk:

Seligman is a Trauma-informed, Empathy-based, Whole-self care practitioner and a co-founder of Monadnock Restorative Community and Cheshire County Restorative Justice Program. She has extensively published, one of her noted works being ‘From the Midway: Unfolding stories of Redemption and Belonging’ published in 2019. Here is an interesting video of a musically infused dramatic reading:

In her presentation, Seligman will be talking about The Importance of Tenderness: Cultivating Accountability and Community through trauma-informed, self-compassion. She will be addressing the critical need for a practical and compassionate approach to cultivate accountability, factoring in the widespread effects of trauma and the errant approach to justice that seeks to punish rather than understand. She will invite listeners to reflect on the challenge of developing compassion for self and others in the context of polarization, marginalization and collective anxiety. With warmth, humor and pragmatic tools, as an author, minister, educator and restorative justice practitioner, she wills to offer a pathway to greater connection, compassion and accountability necessary for a community restored to wholeness where everyone can flourish.

To know more about Leaf, visit

Dr. Colleen Pawlychka (Canada)

Representing Canada, Dr. Colleen Pawlychka is a faculty member at Douglas College, New Westminster, BC. She is also an affiliate of Restorative Justice International and a member of its Global Advisory Council. Her scholarship and research are interdisciplinary and are informed by practical experience in the fields of restorative justice and corrections.

Her presentation she discusses the phenomenon of Childhood Psychological Trauma (CPT). Often individuals carry their childhood emotional wounds with them into adulthood which may continue throughout their lifetime. She proposes healing CPT as essential for rehabilitation.

Through a series of in-depth interviews with former Canadian federal male prisoners who self-identified as having experienced CPT, she not only examines their experiences and highlights their voices but also emphasizes the critical role of community members in the rehabilitative process and the destructive impacts of excessively punitive correctional tactics. She has observed through her research that community-prisoner connection is integral to healing childhood psychological trauma, reflects trauma-informed, gender-responsive care, and constitutes a powerful, positive connection that should be encouraged as a rehabilitation strategy.

Colleen also facilitates experiential conflict resolution workshops and participates in weekly restorative justice circles in a BC federal prison. She also bridges the gap between community and prisoners, providing opportunities for criminology students and those who have experienced incarceration to learn directly from one another.

Urvashi Tilak (India)

Urvashi Tilak is the Director of the Restorative Justice Team at Counsel to Secure Justice (CSJ). She oversees the implementation of restorative justice work and practices of the organisation. CSJ, a non-profit based in India, serves and supports individuals and communities that have experienced trauma to ensure they are safe, heard, and receive true healing and justice. Counsel to Secure Justice (CSJ) is one of the few organisations working on developing restorative justice and practices in India.

Visit the CSJ website here to find out more:

CSJ works with children who have caused harm, providing psycho-social support and restorative talking circles in protective and custodial child care institutions. CSJ offers restorative justice and reintegration and healing processes for children. So far, CSJ has worked with 250 children in institutions, facilitated two restorative justice processes and held three reintegration processes for children who caused harm.

In her presentation, Urvashi proposes to discuss the journey of the Counsel to Secure Justice in establishing restorative practices in India. It will also discuss how CSJ has facilitated Restorative Justice processes and the learnings and challenges of offering restorative practices within Indian legal system.

Check out her take on Healing through Kindness here:

Anna De Paula (Brazil)

As a Public Prosecutor from Brazil, Anna De Paula introduces us to peacemaking circles employed by her and her team to pay special attention to crime victims. Her presentation gives us valuable insights as to how to help and support crime victims even with budgetary restrictions. She also informs us about the importance of trauma awareness.

Geovana Fernandes (Brazil)

Geovana Fernandes holds a Masters in Law focusing on Restorative Justice. She is a Circles Facilitator, Mediator, Federal Justice Public Servant and Director of ADR’s Center. She discusses restorative justice from the lens of alternative dispute resolution. She proposes that restorative justice emerges as a new legal concept to mobilize a diversity of issues and knowledge.

Her present study aims to critically analyze the restorative approach in the context of the multi-door courthouse and from the inflows of the holistic paradigm, as an adequate method to solve conflicts that have generative potential due to traumas and sufferings, in order to allow the interruption of the destructive spiral and thus prevent the emergence of new conflicts.

Some foundations and goals of restorative justice are also going to be addressed, along with the role of narratives in the re-signification of traumatic experiences and how they can be used in restorative circles.

Finally, the potential of restorative justice for the development of mutual recognition will also be evaluated by her.

Claudia Christen-Schneider (Switzerland)

Claudia Christen-Schneider is the Founder and President of the Swiss RJ Forum. She is very active in promoting, developing and implementing restorative justice in Switzerland and also involved in the EFRJ’s values & standards committee.

For more information about Restorative Justice in Switzerland, please visit her website:

Her presentation puts forth the idea that trauma-healing should form part of RJ’s practices. According to her RJ shares several commonalities with the concept of ‘trauma-informed care’, which aims to create an environment where professionals know about trauma and adapt their practice according to this knowledge. Both trauma-informed care and RJ seek to promote healing in trauma-survivors through empowerment, story-telling, building healthy and secure relationships and stimulating reconnection. However, according to available literature and conducted research, many RJ programs seemingly lack a trauma-informed approach.

She raises and addresses the question if RJ fails to live up to its own goals of providing a needs-based and healing form of justice. She also explains what it means to work trauma-informed with all stakeholders in a restorative process.


Frauke Petzold has been a practitioner of Restorative Justice in Germany for about 28 years. She served as the Board member of European Forum for Restorative Justice for 6 years. Frauke works with WAAGE Hannover E.V.. She supervises and coaches by training on Restorative justice mediation, conflict management and conflict resolution in Germany and all over Europe. Her focus areas are victim-offender-mediation in domestic violence cases.

Frauke believes that domestic violence cases need significant consideration to be given to the interests of victims which are worth protecting. These victims not only include direct victims of the violent act, but also children involved. In her presentation she will be discussing perspectives of the victims of domestic violence on dealing with trauma.

Here is Frauke’s take on future of Restorative Justice:

Written by RJ World guest authors Konina and Anwesha

Konina Mandal is an Assistant Lecturer at Jindal Global Law School, O.P Jindal Global University, India. Her research interests include criminology and criminal justice, criminal laws and corrections. She will be co-presenting with Anwesha Panigrahi, Assistant Professor at ICFAI Law School,Hyderabad, India.

Anwesha Panigrahi is presently positioned as an Assistant Professor at ICFAI Law School, Hyderabad, India. She has an LLM in Criminal Justice, Family and Social Welfare. Her research interests include criminal justice, prison jurisprudence and prison laws, corrections, criminal laws and procedure. She will be co-presenting with Ms. Konina Mandal.