Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Radelet

Second Advisor

Patrick Furman

Third Advisor

Dr. Michaele Ferguson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Amy Wilkins

Abstract

Families of homicide victims are often a hidden group of co-victims whose voices are underrepresented in the criminal justice system. The lack of recognition given to these co-victims results in inadequate support and resources to help with the grieving process and any legal proceedings related to the homicide case. This Honors Thesis attempts to uncover the buried narratives of co-victims to better get an understanding of the challenges they face, the strategies used to cope with losing a loved one to homicide, and the ways in which resources can be improved to help resolve the shortcomings of the criminal justice system, victim advocates, and family and community members. Through in-depth interviews with seven participants, the three common coping mechanisms used are 1) criticizing the weaknesses within the criminal justice system, 2) responding to an identity disruption, and 3) adjusting to a new life post-homicide. These coping mechanisms are all chosen by the participants based on their own individual experiences and their own version of dealing with the absence of their loved one. The results of this study can be used to contribute to the literature on families of homicide victims, change policies and procedures in the criminal justice system to protect co-victims’ rights and improve communication, increase empathy and support from family members, friends, and other community members, and develop and improve resources to aid co-victims.

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