With a $207,210 fresh injection of funding, Algonquin’s 5-year-old victimology program is involved with a collaborative research project that’s impact will extend far outside of the college’s walls.
Created as a collaboration between the program and the Victim Justice Network, the project involves a three-year process in which a team of researchers—including two victimology students from the college—conducts in-depth research of victims of crime and how the victims navigate through Canada’s criminal justice system.
On Jan. 21, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council announced that it would offer $207,210 in funding towards the project.
“A lot of survivors of violence are doing incredible things, so we want to learn more about how they’re recovering from trauma and how they’re growing through it,” said Benjamin Roebuck. Roebuck is the coordinator of the victimology program, and he is directly involved in the project. He received his PhD in criminology from the University of Ottawa.
Roebuck is working with two victimology students. Zein Abboud, an international student from Lebanon that studied in the victimology program, joined the project after finding a job posting that described the research project as resiliency-related.
“I was really excited because I did something similar back home in Beirut with Syrian refugees,” Abboud said. “I was excited to put my experience into something relevant to the Canadian context.”
Marissa Locke, also a student in the victimology program, has a background in psychology. She wrote her undergrad thesis on criminal offenders, some of which had past experiences with victimization.
“I learned a lot about post-traumatic stress disorder,” Locke said. “I wanted to balance that out with positive outcomes of traumatic incidents.”
Along with Algonquin’s participants, the team includes several collaborators with a passion for victimology.
These experts include two staff members from the Victim Justice Network– Peter Sampaio and Priscilla de Villiers. De Villiers’ daughter was murdered in 1991.
“My primary area is methodology, but I do have an interest with victims,” said Brendyn Johnson, a graduate from the criminology program at the University of Ottawa. Along with researchers like Johnson, the team includes survivors of violence and family members of homicide victims.
The project’s research is similar to what is taught in the victimology program that Roebuck teaches. The research conducted from the project will be used to strengthen the victimology program’s curriculum.
Victimology involves understanding the thoughts a victim of crime may have, and in many cases, these are among the worst experiences of their lives. Roebuck and his team, however, have a positive attitude and strong work ethic that helps them explore the personal side of crime and the optimistic side of tragedy. Roebuck describes his work as having a “victim-centred perspective,” and in his classroom, care for others is important.
“A human focus is our starting point for everything that we do,” Roebuck said. “We don’t do theory for theory’s sake. We do it in a way that’s connected to the experiences of people.”
The research from the project will be used to enhance training for victims service providers. It will be presented at the World Society of Victimology annual conference in Croatia.