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Editor Introduction to Volume 12, Issue 1

This is the editorial introduction to Volume 12, Issue 1.

Published onJan 16, 2023
Editor Introduction to Volume 12, Issue 1

This issue contains five articles that utilize various qualitative and mixed methods.

Elizabeth L. Gilmore and Kevin Buckler, in their article, “Doing Death Work,” uses a mixed methods approach to explore how medical examiner office personnel adapt professionally and personally to the difficulties of the work. They interviewed 14 current or past staff members of medical examiners’ offices, asking them about memorable events in their profession and how the work influences their professional and personal lives. Their work identified several common themes relating to memorable events, including a first experience on the job, the people impacted by the death under investigation (children or adolescents), the type of case (homicide, suicide, etc.), and case-specific details (working a “night” case, unexpected case outcome). They also discuss several themes from their data relating to behavioral and personal adaptations the study participants experienced in their jobs. These include personalization of the cases, bluntness about life and death, risk aversion and altered friendship dynamics, elevated appreciation for life, changes in views on parenting and kids, dreams, and partner dynamics. Their study also addressed the study participants’ views of treatment and counseling relating to their profession. Findings suggest that there is a professional stigma forming a barrier to help-seeking. The study participants nearly uniformly believed that “others” should be able to seek treatment and counseling but viewed it as something that they would not personally do. The authors assert that agencies and organizations should do more to make help-seeking an accepted part of the organizational culture.

Andrew S. Denney’s article, “Child Sex Abusers in Protestant Christian Churches,” examines 326 alleged incidents and proposes an offender typology to understand sexual abuse in this context. Denney suggests that offenders may be classified as onsite, offsite, and serial. Onsite offenders are characterized by the commission of their crime against only one known victim at the time of their arrest, who committed the offense at the church or during a church-sponsored activity. In this regard, onsite offenders are opportunistic offenders; they “were not reported to have created a specialized situation outside of the church activity to carry out their sexual victimization.” (p. 58). The offsite offender also had only one known victim at the time of arrest but did not commit the offense at the church or during a church-sponsored event. Instead, the offsite offender engaged in the crime at home, the victim’s home, or a location unconnected to the church. Offsite offenders create opportunities to offend and engage their victims by grooming them. Serial offenders have multiple known victims and carry out sexual offenses over an extended period. They, over time, often at multiple churches, “develop the expertise and experience to select, groom, and victimize while going primarily undetected.” (p. 63) Serial offenders often hold high-ranking positions of power within the church and “might be more inclined to suffer from a paraphilia.” (p. 64) Relating to church culture concerning detection and enforcement, Denney concludes that “clear policies and procedures and their enforcement are imperative to prevent and intervene in instances of sexual abuse within one's church. Examples of such policies include two adults with adolescents or children at all times and highly structured offsite activities where an adult and minor cannot be alone with one another.” (p. 69)

The article “Infidelity, Liability, and Violence” by Jason Manning studies violence initiated because of infidelity and sexual jealousy. The author utilizes detailed descriptions of homicides (from the files of the Jefferson County, Kentucky, coroner and the West Virginia Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team) and the cross-cultural ethnographic literature to describe three forms of liability, rival, partner, and dual. Rival liability occurs when an offender seeks to hold the romantic rival but not the partner responsible for the infidelity. An offender seeks partner liability when the person directs violence toward the unfaithful partner but not the romantic rival. Dual liability occurs when the offender attacks the romantic rival and the cheating partner. Cross-cultural variation in the forms of liability that sexually jealous persons may seek can, in certain instances, be explained by opportunity and geographic space. Rival and dual liability are less likely to occur in social settings that are more urban and suburban because person-to-person interactions are less frequent, and privacy is easier to attain in these settings compared to a rural area. Cross-cultural variation in the three forms of liability may also be due to domestic distance and inequality. Partner liability may be more prevalent in social settings where domestic distance and power are greater between the rivals. Rival and dual liability are more likely in social environments that promote a strong “honor culture,” characterized by public reputation, physical bravery, and sensitivity to disrespect.

In the article “Title IX Isn’t for You, It’s for the University,” Katherine Lorenz, Rebecca Hayes, and Cathrine Jacobsen address Title IX investigations on a university campus through interviews with 21 graduate and undergraduate students who reported a case to the Title IX office. The authors frame their analysis through Betrayal Trauma Theory, which “draws a connection between increased posttraumatic symptoms among survivors of interpersonal abuse with the compounded trauma of betrayal by the institution.” (p. 98). The concept of Institutional Betrayal occurs when “the institution (in this case the HEI including Title IX offices) or agents of the institution (such as Title IX practitioners, but also faculty), fail to acknowledge or respond to interpersonal trauma/harm, or fail to act on behalf of the survivor’s interests in response to the harm they experienced and disclosed within the context of the institution.” (p. 99) Institutional Betrayal can become pronounced, “when a student is dependent on the institution for things that may be tied to their survival and/or upward mobility, such as education (e.g., college degree, career preparedness, networking), financial stability (e.g., graduate worker income, scholarship, financial aid), or preventing sexual violence from continuing.” (p. 98) The authors' themes of Institutional Betrayal include the HEI environment and culture, Title IX incompetence, unjust processes and outcomes, length of the investigation, lack of proper support and resources, lack of protection, lack of agency, emotional labor, HEI self-protection from liability, retaliation, and differential responses to cases.

The article “Treating Criminal Justice-Involved Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Clients in the Community” by Brittany Hood examines how community service providers perceive organizational-level factors and legal constraints and how these influence treatment decisions. The author interviewed 61 community mental health center (CMHC) service providers in Indiana. Six themes emerged from the analysis, CMHCs are underfunded, the generalizability of CMHC goals, appropriateness of treatment, influences on CMHC policies, legal constraints as the most significant barrier, and the role of Medicaid. The authors provide several suggestions for policymakers and future research. Legislators should “consider the role of Medicaid funding on organizational budgets.” (p. 151). Because many CMHCs do not accept Medicaid, future research should examine how treatment decisions vary across institutions. Further, the authors suggest that future research consider the impact of mandatory minimum sentences for drug cases and the impact on caseload on treatment decisions.

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