Featured Study: "Meet me at the hill where we used to park: Interpersonal processes associated with victim recantation"
Our study used live telephone conversations between domestic violence perpetrators and victims to answer novel questions about how and why victims arrive at their decision to recant and/or refuse prosecution efforts. From October 2008 to June 2011, we conducted a qualitative study involving 25 heterosexual couples, where the male perpetrator was being held in a Detention Facility (in the U.S.) for felony-level domestic violence and made telephone calls to his female victim during the pre-prosecution period.
The graphic below, Fig. 1, presents the conceptual framework that emerged from the analysis of the data to answer two research questions (processes associated with the victim’s intention to recant and the couple’s construction of the recantation plan). Each section describes how couples moved through the recantation process.
We labeled the segments in Fig. 1 with numerical values to aid readers in moving through the various sections. However couples did not necessarily move through the phases linearly; for example, while resistance of each other’s accounts of what happened during the abuse event is listed in segment 1, the couple might have continually resisted each other’s accounts in some fashion up until their final construction of the recantation plan.
Summary of Findings
Once the victim arrived at her decision to recant, the couple constructed the recantation plan by redefining the abuse event to protect the perpetrator.
In the context of ongoing interactions, strategies perpetrators used included sympathy appeals and minimization to persuade their victim and preserve their relationship.
Practitioners must double their efforts to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions, and efforts made to link victims to trusted advocates who can help them defend against perpetrators’ sophisticated techniques.