Perceptions of forgiveness for victims and offenders: Somewhere between “forgiveness frees me” and “I don’t expect their forgiveness”

T. Jenkins

Griffith Criminology Institute, t.jenkins@griffith.edu.au

A substantial body of literature exists emphasizing the psychological, emotional, behavioural, and somatic impacts that crime has on victims. A smaller yet rapidly increasing body of work suggests forgiveness may hold healing potentialities for victims of crime. Significantly less is known about the impact that forgiveness has on perpetrators. Using qualitative in-depth interviews with 12 victims and 19 offenders this paper examines the different perceptions victims and offenders hold with respect to the giving and receiving of forgiveness. The saliency of forgiveness for victims lay primarily in its personal healing capacities whereas the receipt of forgiveness has varied relevance and meaning to offenders depending on the circumstances of the offence and/or the one offering forgiveness. Self-forgiveness has particular relevance for both victims and offenders. A better understanding of the significance of forgiveness in the lives of crime victims and offenders has practical implications for clinicians, service providers, and criminal justice professionals involved in the treatment or custodial care of these populations.

Biography

Tamera Jenkins is a PhD candidate in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University.  Research experience includes the reparative role of forgiveness in cases of traumatic violence and the impact of U.S. federal sentencing laws on rates of incarceration. Current research focuses on the impact of crime on victims and offenders, the manner in which they identify, appraise, or place value on giving and/or receiving forgiveness and the effect that these perceptions has on their psychological, emotional, behavioural, and somatic well-being.

An unthinkable crime: Parents who kill

W. Bryant1*, S. Lyneham1 & S. Bricknell1

1 Australian Institute of Criminology, Willow.Bryant@aic.gov.au

Almost a fifth of family homicide incidents in Australia are filicides, or the killing of children by their parents. Few Australian studies, however, have described national patterns in filicide incidents, victims and offenders. To address this gap, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) partnered with Monash University to examine filicides that occurred in Australia between 2000 and 2012. This paper presents findings from analysis of the AIC’s National Homicide Monitoring Program with a focus on filicide offender and offending characteristics. It describes custodial relationships between offender and victim, methods by which children were killed, history of prior domestic violence or other criminal offending, experience of mental illness, post-homicide suicide rates and co-offender association.

Biography

Willow Bryant has been a Research Officer with the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Violence and Exploitation Research Program since 2013. Willow obtained her Bachelor of Psychology Science/Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice (Class IIA Honours) from Griffith University. She has worked on the AIC’s National Homicide Monitoring Program for approximately two years and has extensive familiarity with this dataset.

Street harassment victims’ justice needs and desired justice responses

B.Fileborn

Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University, B.Fileborn@latrobe.edu.au

Street harassment is a pervasive experience for many women, and people of diverse gender and sexual orientation. For many, street harassment is a routine occurrence in public and semi-public spaces. While street harassment can take many forms, in many instances it occurs as a strand of gender-based violence, or homophobic and transphobic abuse. Research to date illustrates that – contrary to popular opinion – street harassment can cause profound harm to victims. Despite this, many forms of street harassment are typically not responded to by the formal criminal justice system. Although this is in some respects disappointing, and can be read as a continuation of the historical exclusion and dismissal of gender-based (and homophobic/transphobic) violence by the criminal justice system, it also creates the opportunity to develop justice responses to street harassment from the starting point of victims’ justice needs.

This begs the question of what the justice needs’ of street harassment victims are, and what type of justice responses – whether formal or informal – do victims desire? This presentation will explore these questions drawing on the findings of a qualitative research project undertaken in Melbourne, Victoria. An online survey and focus groups were undertaken with 317 participants who have experienced street harassment. Emerging findings indicate that street harassment victims hold diverse, complex, and, at times, contradictory understandings of justice, and of what needs to occur for justice to be achieved. This suggests that there is unlikely to be one clear path to achieving justice for street harassment. Rather, a suite of justice avenues is required.

Biography

Dr Bianca Fileborn is currently a Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University.Dr Nicola Henry is currently a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the School of Social Inquiry, La Trobe University.Rachel Loney-Howes is currently a PhD Candidate in the School of Social Inquiry, La Trobe University.Tully O’Neill is currently a PhD Candidate in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.

Street harassment victims’ justice needs and desired justice responses

B.Fileborn

Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University, B.Fileborn@latrobe.edu.au

Street harassment is a pervasive experience for many women, and people of diverse gender and sexual orientation. For many, street harassment is a routine occurrence in public and semi-public spaces. While street harassment can take many forms, in many instances it occurs as a strand of gender-based violence, or homophobic and transphobic abuse. Research to date illustrates that – contrary to popular opinion – street harassment can cause profound harm to victims. Despite this, many forms of street harassment are typically not responded to by the formal criminal justice system. Although this is in some respects disappointing, and can be read as a continuation of the historical exclusion and dismissal of gender-based (and homophobic/transphobic) violence by the criminal justice system, it also creates the opportunity to develop justice responses to street harassment from the starting point of victims’ justice needs.

This begs the question of what the justice needs’ of street harassment victims are, and what type of justice responses – whether formal or informal – do victims desire? This presentation will explore these questions drawing on the findings of a qualitative research project undertaken in Melbourne, Victoria. An online survey and focus groups were undertaken with 317 participants who have experienced street harassment. Emerging findings indicate that street harassment victims hold diverse, complex, and, at times, contradictory understandings of justice, and of what needs to occur for justice to be achieved. This suggests that there is unlikely to be one clear path to achieving justice for street harassment. Rather, a suite of justice avenues is required.

Biography

Dr Bianca Fileborn is currently a Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University.Dr Nicola Henry is currently a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the School of Social Inquiry, La Trobe University.Rachel Loney-Howes is currently a PhD Candidate in the School of Social Inquiry, La Trobe University.Tully O’Neill is currently a PhD Candidate in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.

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