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Victims of crime: The experience of criminal justice activities

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Scott, Janita (2013) Victims of crime: The experience of criminal justice activities. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The present study investigated the severity and intensity of peritraumatic responses of individuals during criminal victimisation and while engaging in a police interview and court testimony. Of particular interest were the different aspects of these criminal justice events that might contribute to their stressful nature. A personalised, staged guided imagery methodology was employed to assess the peritraumatic psychological and psychophysiological reactions of the 43 victims of crime. As predicted, results of the crime analysis indicated that victims respond in negative ways to criminal victimisation, more so than emotionally neutral events. Although perceived risk to life did not impact the severity of all responses to criminal activity, it did increase the overall sense of threat, violation and fear in victims. As expected, results of the police interview analysis also indicated that police interviews elicit stronger psychophysiological and psychological responses in victims than neutral events. However, victims are affected differently during police interviews in comparison to crimes. A perceived need to prove victimisation during police interview impacted on victims’ feelings of control and violation at different stages of their experiences. However, contrary to the hypothesis, the perceived support received from police officers did not impact on victims’ experiences. When considering the results of the court testimony analysis (n=19), the psychological and psychophysiological ratings again provided support for the hypothesis, in this case, that testifying in court is a distressing event when compared to emotionally neutral events. Further, the need to prove victimisation during testimony increased feelings of anger during this stage and a general sense of threat throughout the entire courtroom experience. Against predictions, levels of violation, lack of control and anger were elevated when the perpetrator was absent from the courtroom. The results add to the literature on, and provide some interesting insights into, the complex impact of involvement in criminal justice system on victims’ posttraumatic wellbeing.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: crime victims, traumaisation, police interview, court testimony
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Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2013 02:28
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:06
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