Emma Forbes

PhD Student

University of Glasgow


Working Title of PhD: Perception and Reality: An Exploration of Domestic Abuse Victims’ Experiences of the Criminal Justice Process in Scotland

Year commenced PhD study: 2015 Institution/Organisation: University of Glasgow

Funding Source: College of Social and Political Sciences scholarship. Full or part-time: F/T

PhD Supervisors: Professor Michele Burman and Dr Oona Brooks-Hay

Synopsis of PhD (including main research question(s) and methodological approach)

My thesis is a feminist critique of Scotland’s investigation and prosecution of domestic abuse through the lens of tackling domestic abuse as a gendered offence. It tells two stories: Scotland’s policy and legislative response to this issue and the experience of female victims who report domestic abuse to the police. Specifically, it examines:
• The relationship between the victims’ rights campaign and the statutory and policy response;
• Whether new laws and policies help victims going to court to give evidence;
• The effect of the criminal justice response on women’s safety; and
• Appropriate ways to give victims a voice in the adversarial process.

I adopted a mixed-method approach which triangulates a grounded, feminist, qualitative approach; a socio-legal narrative of government, policy and social responses; and an auto-ethnographic practitioner experience. Drawing on in-depth interviews with women who have experienced domestic abuse and those who support them, the data identifies a number of enduring challenges. The data is contextualised within a 40-year perspective of Scotland’s policy, legal, social and academic responses to victims of gender violence in general and domestic abuse in particular.

For more information about Emma’s work please visit Glass Wall Arts – Shining a Light on Domestic Abuse 


Keywords: domestic abuse; gender; criminal justice/court process

List of relevant publications:
Forbes, E. (2018) The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018: The Whole Story? Edinburgh Law Review, Vol. 22, 406 – 11

Malloch, M., Robertson, L. & Forbes, E. (2017) Evidence Assessment of the Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex: A Review, Scottish Government, Social Research, Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research

Forbes, E. (2007) Longer Arm of the Law, An overview of Eurojust and International Judicial Cooperation, Journal of the Law Society of Scotland, September Issue.

Provan, E. (2006) Abuse in the System, An insight into the pilot Domestic Abuse Court, Journal of the Law Society of Scotland, December Issue.


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University of Glasgow

SCCJR, Ivy Lodge, 63 Gibson Street
University of Glasgow


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