Chris Cervantes

Major and Classification

Gender Studies and Sociology

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Michael Messner


Dornsife: Gender Studies

Research Gateway Project

“Transformative Justice: Alternatives to Responding to Sexual Violence”

Project Abstract

Common responses to sexual violence often include seeking the State’s intervention through Criminal and Retributive Justice practices. However, these systems often result in increases vulnerability for victims, unchanged behavior in perpetrators, and additional violence committed by the state. In an attempt to address violence and prevent the occurrence of future violence, community-based groups have sought to develop community accountability frameworks and practices, often referred to as Transformative Justice. This research project sought to ascertain the current state of Transformative Justice by answering the following questions: who is doing the work of Transformative Justice, how is it being done, what are the possibilities and limitations of these practices, and what is the potential future of Transformative Justice. In order to do so, a textual analysis of literature produced by Transformative Justice organizations was conducted. This literature functions as a site of conceptualization and dissemination of Transformative Justice. There were three key findings of this research: this work is interconnected personally, organizationally, and theoretically; community networks are strengthened through the storytelling process of sharing Transformative Justice knowledge; and cycles of shame and isolation are broken by building compassion and support for victims, affected community members, and perpetrators.