Designing a survivor-orientated restorative justice program for use in cases of sexual abuse: an interpretative phenomenological analysis
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis
This thesis informs the design of restorative justice processes for survivors of sexual abuse, through an understanding of their lived experience of the aftermath of abuse, and their reflections regarding a restorative justice process in their cases. It evidences the conceptual capabilities of restorative justice, and presents the research definition developed for this study. The research endeavours to understand what type of restorative justice processes survivors seek, with whom, and their expectations of a process. A feminist approach to this research has been enhanced through the application of an interpretative phenomenological analysis, which privileges the voices of a small sample of survivors. The interpretation of their stories draws on the researcher’s professional and academic knowledge and experience, to reach transferable theoretical insights which inform the theory and practice of restorative justice in cases of sexual abuse. This analysis identified the complex, triangulated relationships between the survivor, their abuser, and those who facilitated their abuse, and a desire for a restorative justice process with these facilitators .The participants’ need for the act of abuse and the impact of the abuse to be recognised by others was only partially achieved through the criminal justice system, and required additional paths to justice, at a time appropriate to the participants’ recovery .Finally, the ability of the participant to gain control over their narrative of abuse, is the journey envisaged when considering a restorative justice process in their cases. This thesis presents an optional, staged programme of restorative justice; the provision of general narratives of sexual abuse to develop personal narratives, and restorative justice processes with their facilitators of abuse, prior to a restorative justice process with their abuser. Measuring the level of control felt by a survivor over their narrative of abuse is proposed as a method of evaluation of the programme.
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