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Messing With their Minds: Stockholm Syndrome, Childhood, Sexual Abuse and Frontier Issues for Restorative Justice

Julich, Shirley
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Paper presented at “New Frontiers in Restorative Justice: Advancing Theory and Practice”, Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University at Albany, New Zealand, 2-5 December.

Recent decades have brought needed awareness of the alarming prevalence and enduring harm of childhood sexual abuse. Professionals who work with children—teachers, law enforcement officers, clinicians, social workers, among others—are now alert to manifestations of suspected abuse and procedures for responding and reporting. For adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, restorative justice would appear to offer both an outlet for healing and a welcome alternative to the traditional justice system. And yet—as the mathematician Enrico Bombieri observed: “When things get too complicated, it sometimes makes sense to stop and wonder: Have I asked the right question?” Sadly, the experience of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse within the context of restorative justice is complicated indeed. It’s time to question, to wonder, and to explore unstated assumptions. In this presentation, Drs. Shirley Julich and Ann Kerwin explore a surprising, often frustrating paradox: the reluctance of adult survivors, now removed from perpetrators and fully aware of the horrific psychic disfigurement they continue to experience, who, nevertheless, hesitate to hold their abuser[s] to account in an apparently sheltered public way. Abstract courtesy of the Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University,


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