Drawing out resilience in victims of crime


There are now more services available for victims of crime than ever, but the services offered aren’t always based on the best practices available. Information on how victims navigate their way through the justice system continues to be sparse.

Researchers at Algonquin College, in partnership with the Victim Justice Network, are hoping to change this by exploring how victims of violence manage the obstacles they face while dealing with the aftermath of a crime. They’re also trying to find out whether victims develop resilience by being able to work through the system and their own trauma.

The project is led by Benjamin Roebuck and is funded through SSHRC’s Community and College Social Innovation Fund. Roebuck is a strong believer in focusing on strengths and suggests, “We can learn a great deal about how to help people rebuild their lives by talking about the deep resilience some people develop.”

People who have been traumatized should not be pressured to “look for a bright side.” However, Roebuck finds some people are very glad to talk about how they are coping and what they have been able to do to navigate the aftermath of the crime they suffered.

Timing, knowing what not to say, and recognizing that trauma and strength exist side-by-side in many people are all crucial factors in efforts to draw out resilience, Roebuck says. Learning about growth factors will allow the research team to build this information into lessons in the college’s victim assistance training program.

This multiphase project will involve victims and service providers throughout. Broadly distributed questionnaires will be followed up with one-on-one interviews to explore experiences of strength and resilience. The goal is to find out what services have been most helpful, and what knowledge gaps there are about resilience and how it is built.


Victim Justice Network