Via the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program 

Source: Pexels

By: Stephan Sonnenberg J.D. ’06

Domestic violence, as we are all by now painfully aware thanks to the #MeToo movement, continues to be a shockingly widespread and under-reported scourge.

The statistics are sobering: The World Health Organization estimates that over 1 in 3 women worldwide (approx. 35%) have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime, with that vast majority of that violence being perpetrated by an intimate partner. The United States is not exempt from this global trend. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that just under 1 in 10 women in the U.S. would experience rape by an intimate partner during her lifetime, and that just under 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 7 men would experience some form of severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. Nor is the situation any different in Bhutan, where a 2013 survey conducted by the National Council on Women and Children (NCWC) found that approximately 1 in 3 “ever-partnered” women would be likely to experience some form of intimate partner violence during their lifetime. And of course, even a cursory look at the front pages of our newspapers reveals just how widespread the impunity still is for these serious crimes, not just in Washington D.C. and Hollywood, but globally.

Can we do a better job addressing this scourge of daily hidden violence, abuse and humiliation? More to the point: can alternative dispute resolution processes, which here I define as “anything-other-than-formal judicial remedies” play a role in that improved justice response?

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