EXTERNALLY FUNDED RESEARCH PROJECTS
Intimate partner violence and the Western Australian criminal justice system: A victim perspective
The background to this research stems from my time working as a volunteer with the Family Violence Service at the Perth Magistrates Court. During my time helping women with VRO (violence restraining order) applications, I felt positive and encouraged by victim experiences in court; however, there were occasions where, having reassured victims they had made the right decision to seek help, I felt responsible when victims felt disempowered and revictimised. This led me to question whether the justice system (including police, lawyers, magistrates, court staff and court processes) empowers victims to move forward or whether the system leaves victims feeling discouraged and despondent to the point where they may decide not to engage with the system in the future.
This project aims to explore the following research questions:
1. What are the experiences of female victims of intimate partner abuse (IPA) as they engage with the Western Australian Criminal Justice System (WACJS)?
2. Do these experiences encourage or discourage women from seeking help in future cases of IPA?
3. When seeking help, do victims feel encouraged or discouraged by police, lawyers and the courts?
Thirteen female victims of intimate partner violence (ranging in ages from 20 to 69) who had engaged with police, lawyers or the courts in Western Australia participated in the study. Participants engaged in semi-structured, but mainly free-flowing, interviews.
Using a grounded theory approach, interviews were transcribed, and then coded using NVivo. Codes were analysed over three coding stages: initial, axial and theoretical. Initial coding involved analysing data line-by-line to look for the premise behind participant statements to generate categories toward theory building. Axial coding involved building upon the open-coded categories to create subcategories. Finally, theoretical coding involved integrating the categories established through axial coding to form theoretical explanations related to the data.