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When it’s no hard to relate: Can legal systems mitigate the trauma of victim-offender relationships?

Madeira, Jody Lyneé
June 4, 2015

Source: (2009) Houston Law Review. 46(2): 401-465.

This Article argues that, in the aftermath of violent crime, a
relationship that is both negative and involuntary can form
between crime victims and offenders. This relationship fetters
the victim to the crime and the criminal, rendering it difficult to
recover from the transgression. To illustrate how such a
relationship may form and what consequences it may have for
victims, this Article uses the Oklahoma City bombing as a case
study, documenting through the use of original interviews an
involuntary relationship in which victims’ family members and
survivors perceived they were tethered to Timothy McVeigh. This
perceived relationship with McVeigh aggravated family
members’ and survivors’ emotional and psychological wounds,
delaying their healing. The Article further argues that this
relationship originated in media coverage of McVeigh that
portrayed him as defiant, remorseless, and unemotional, and
that the relationship was further developed at trial when family members and survivors were profoundly disturbed by McVeigh’s
conduct. To minimize the harmful effects of victim-offender
relationships, this Article proposes that victim services workers
educate victims about the possibility of such a relationship, help
victims cope with media coverage of the defendant, and assist
victims in understanding defendants’ behavior during trial.
Finally, it recommends that opportunities for voluntary victimoffender
mediation be made available to help mitigate the
negative consequences of these victim-offender ties. (Author’s abstract).


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