The aftermath of violent death – what happens to those bereaved by homicide?

Francesca Bell

Those bereaved by homicide are particularly vulnerable to retraumatisation and complex grief reactions.  In part this is due to the nature of their loss, however, the investigative process, both criminal and coronial, together with the potential impact of media coverage, complicates the bereaved’s ability to deal with their trauma, grieve, accept and create their new normal.  Drawing on the literature, process and policy knowledge, and clinical experience with this population, this paper will outline the journey that those bereaved by homicide make through the system.  It will discuss the supports in place and consider what else could be done to assist this group after violent death.


Francesca holds a PhD in clinical and forensic psychology and endorsement as a clinical psychologist.  In her 16 years as a psychologist, she has been privileged enough to do a variety of work with individuals, families and organisations.  She set up the first site-based psychology service in the Pilbara and ran the WA offices of an employee assistance service provider before joining the WA Department of Justice 5 years ago, to run the Coronial Counselling Service.   She is now working in the Office of the Commissioner for Victims of Crime.  She also teaches traumatology to masters students.


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