A Restorative Justice Story “A Better Man”

If you missed “A Better Man” at Toronto’s 2017 Hot Docs Festival this Spring you can still catch it at hotdocs Ted Rogers Cinema starting June 9.  “A Better Man” is a documentary about family abuse and restorative justice.  Restorative justice is a system of criminal justice that focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with their victims.  “A Better Man” focus’ on a physical abuse that occurred between a couple over 20 years ago.  Attiya Khan brings her real life story to the screen co-writing and co-producing this film.

Attiya takes her ex-boyfriend, Steve, back to their high school, to their old home and to other frequented places to try to recapture what was going on with him at the time of the abuse to better understand what caused it.  Part of Attiya’s rehabilitation was also to have Steve understand how she processed what was happening at the time.  Both parties remember some of their experiences differently, or sometimes one of them doesn’t remember at all.  Abusive moments experienced by Attiya were often not heavily weighted in her abuser’s mind.  Actually, often times, Steve doesn’t realize the impact his actions had on Attiya, even all these year’s later.  By bringing these episodes to light, from Attiya’s perspective, is where the projection and accountability begin to take place in order to rehabilitate and reconciliate.  If you would like to watch the trailer you can find it here http://abettermanfilm.com/

Many divorce professionals are trained to look for family abuse whether it be physical, emotional, verbal or financial.  Some professionals are trained to help the abused spouse overcome their issues.  Others dovetail their professional skills with therapists to help the abused partner feel empowered.  When I am working with a client that has been exposed to financial abuse I work with a social worker who is trained in working in abusive family situations, while I teach the client how to read financial statements, budget and make financial decisions.  Giving these clients skill sets to carry them past the point of divorce and empowering them to move forward with confidence is key.

Often clients won’t admit to the abuse.  Other’s don’t see that they are being abused.  They simply don’t label themselves that way.  “The Better Man” allows the victim of abuse the resources to heal.  In this case, Attiya’s abuser comes forward to attempt to right a wrong that occurred over 20 years past.  While optimal, this isn’t usually the case.  If your spouse has been abusing you and you are looking to separate, tell the professionals that you are working with.  We have many skill sets are resources available to help you.






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