Conducting research on sexual violence and experiences with the criminal justice system is undoubtedly a sensitive and challenging process. For understandable reasons, many survivors may not wish to recall their experiences, far less share them with a researcher. The willingness of survivors to come forward and speak with us during our research was therefore unexpected. This told us something about their desire to have their stories heard. Also apparent was the desire of those interviewed to help improve the experiences of others who may find themselves in a similar situation.
What they have produced speaks not simply of journeys into and through the criminal justice system, it tells of the personal transformations that took place when they were give permission to speak and a space to do so. The words from some of the survivors who took part, below, are a testament to this.
Of those survivors who have participated, some have chosen to retain anonymity whilst others have chosen to use their own name.
“Justice Journeys gave me back something of my own narrative, which I felt had been taken from me as soon as the justice system was involved. Despite being at the centre of events, there was a strong sense of a loss of control and agency throughout my experience with the justice system.” – Eve
“I’d like to thank everyone in the Justice Journeys team for their sensitivity and support during our conversations. The creative element of the project has helped me so much. It’s given me an opportunity to express painful images and memories through writing and artworks, and in turn this has had such a positive impact on my own healing journey. I can’t thank the team enough for all their work in helping give survivors a voice.” – Suzy
“Being involved in Justice Journeys has helped me heal. My life has been through obstacles, but I get through them. I have survived even when I didn’t want to. The Scottish Justice System is full of old dated hierarchal systems. You’re just a crime reference-number. No one treats you with respect or dignity. You live through this until someone in the Procurator Fiscal Department makes a decision about your life and when you challenge decisions, you’re put back in your ‘box’. I hope the Justice Journeys project gives some comfort, hope and strength to anyone after a sexual assault to know that you can live through this and come out the other side… not as a victim but as a SURVIVOR.” – Poppy
“I took part in Justice Journeys because my own experience of the Criminal Justice System had shown me how little ‘justice’ there really is for survivors of rape. I reported the rape and abuse I had been subjected to in childhood in the belief that if evidence existed to corroborate my statement then my abuser would be charged. What I learnt was that vast majority of sexual offences in Scotland are never even prosecuted, let alone convicted, due to a centuries-old law that effectively protects the men accused of rape rather than the women who report it. Justice Journeys gave me a space to be heard, to share my rage and despair, and to feel that I could at least use my experience to positive effect. Survivors’ voices matter, and the failure of the criminal justice system to effectively deliver justice for survivors should concern us all.” – Emma