"Doing justice" versus "undoing injustice": Factors influencing the experience of engaging with the Criminal Justice System for survivors of child sexual abuse

Harper, Sarah Catherine (2018) "Doing justice" versus "undoing injustice": Factors influencing the experience of engaging with the Criminal Justice System for survivors of child sexual abuse. D Clin Psy thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Purpose: This study aimed to explore factors that may influence the experience of engaging with the Criminal Justice System (CJS) for adult survivors of child sexual abuse (CSA), from the perspective of key informants. These informants offered expert perspectives on an under-researched topic, based on their in-depth experience of supporting a wide range of survivors of CSA through the legal process.

Background: Although a more common experience than one might think, child sexual abuse (CSA) is an offence that is not often prosecuted. This is due to a range of reasons, including its significant impact on those abused, delayed disclosure, and a reluctance to engage in a legal process that has been described as “re-traumatising” for victims of sexual assault (Clark, 2010). In Scotland, this has led to significant comment about and concerted motivation to adapt the prosecution process to more effectively meet the needs of victims and improve their experience of engaging with the Criminal Justice System (CJS) (Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service, 2015). The purpose of this study is to examine in more detail the current CJS from the standpoint of those supporting survivors of CSA through it, to better understand its impact and how it might be better adapted to their needs.

Method: Support professionals from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and Rape Crisis Scotland were recruited. Eight ‘key informants’ with extensive experience in supporting survivors of CSA were interviewed regarding their perceptions of what factors influence survivor’s experiences of engaging with CJS. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the interview data.

Conclusions: Two key themes were identified: ‘Justice: Not just what happens, but how’ and ‘Danger of getting it wrong: More harmful than helpful’. Themes emphasised the range of experiential factors which were perceived to affect survivors’ experience of the CJS beyond the legal verdict alone and the detrimental psychological impact associated with negative experiences of engaging with the legal process. Recommendations for practice and reform are outlined.

Item Type: Thesis (D Clin Psy)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Child sexual abuse, experience, criminal justice system, qualitative, thematic analysis.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Supervisor's Name: Bruce, Dr. Caroline
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Ms Sarah C Harper
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30836
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2018 07:47
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2018 11:40
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/30836

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