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Victims at the Crossroads: 'Slachtoffers op het Kruispunt'

Dr. Pauline Aarten researches what impact traffic accidents have on victims and their relatives and how we can improve their situation. This research is supported by SASS (in Dutch: Stichting Achmea Slachtoffer en Samenleving).

Traffic costs us hundreds of victims yearly. Therefore, policies to reduce the number of traffic accidents get the most attention. However, the questions of what impact traffic accidents have on the victims and their relatives and how we can improve the situation of these people are just as important.

A serious traffic accident can leave physical injuries such as long-term scars. Further, it can have direct financial consequences, such as damage, but also indirect financial consequences, for example income loss. Moreover, a traffic accident can impact psychological functioning. Many victims and relatives incur a traumatic disorder.

Giving the traffic accident meaning and significance is also very important for victims and relatives. They search for an explanation for what has happened. This can help the victims cope with such an incident. This explanation can be found through telling stories. Also, victims and their relatives process the experience of reacting to their victimhood through stories. Specifically, the reaction of the authorities and the legal order are important as well as reactions from their environment.

A Place within the Life Story

Therefore, Dr. Pauline Aarten sat up a line of research which uses narrative techniques to research the experience of victims. There are two purposes for this project. Firstly, Aarten wants to gain more insight into the way victims and their relatives place the traffic accident and the reactions in their life story. The second purpose of this research is to strengthen the position of these victims and relatives. The research has to result in recommendations for legislations and policies. There are also recommendations for the help and assistance services to better tailor the help to the needs of victims and relatives.

For the project ‘Slachtoffers op het Kruispunt’, Pauline Aarten and Rik Keulen researched the stage at which a traffic accident and its aftermath are incorporated within the life story of victims and their relatives.

More information on the website of Stichting Achmea Slachtoffer en Samenleving (SASS) (Dutch only)

SASS Slachtoffers op het Kruispunt (Dutch only)

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Pauline Aarten is assistant professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs. She obtained her PhD in Criminology by studying suspended sentences in the Netherlands. Since then her focus has broadened to the study of crime and victimisation of severe offenses. Her research interests include severe violent crimes, victim-offender overlap, justice experiences and sentencing.

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