What to look for in a mediation service
Some mediation services have more awareness than others about dealing with clients experiencing domestic violence. You should be able to expect that a service can provide the following, but this may not always be the case.
A mediation service may be able to:
- offer a separate intake session for you, where you can talk to the mediator alone before attending the mediation (see above);
- discuss other options that may assist you to feel safe, such as shuttle mediation (where you and your partner are in separate rooms) or co-mediation (both a male and female mediator facilitate the session); and
- assist you with practical safety arrangements, such as providing separate waiting areas or separate entry/exit points to the building.
A mediator should:
- take domestic violence seriously and ask about experiences of violence, including non-physical forms of abuse or harassment;
- help you consider the possible impact of abuse on the mediation process;
- offer you a separate time to discuss any concerns before, during and after the mediation sessions;
- set ground rules at the start of the session for what forms of communication and behaviour are acceptable and what are not (for example, no put-downs, no intimidating behaviour etc);
- work out a signal that you can use to indicate to them if you are feeling threatened or need a break;
- check with you privately during the mediation session to find out how you are going;
- control any abusive behaviour in the mediation session and/or assist you to deal with it; and
- help you to deal with any harassment or intimidation that occurs outside of the mediation session itself.
Prepare yourself for the mediation
Get legal advice before and after the mediation. Women have reported to NCSMC that the most effective service was from providers who offered mediation and legal advice (not all FDR providers offer this service).