Childhood Victimization, Recent Injustice, Anger, and Forgiveness in a Sample of Imprisoned Male Offenders [2018]

The links between childhood victimization, subsequent emotional dysregulation, and insufficient coping skills have been repeatedly documented in the scientific literature. However, there is a gap in the literature regarding the role of forgiveness as a coping strategy and relationships between offense-specific hurt, chronic anger, and early victimization. The goals of our study were (a) to explore how offenders cope with recent unjust treatment, and test the links between type of injustice, hurt experienced due to injustice, and use of forgiveness; (b) to test the links between childhood victimization, hurt, and chronic anger; and (c) to assess the mediating role of chronic anger in relation to hurt and forgiveness. The results reveal that multiplicity and severity of victimization exposure in the prison sample are positively associated with chronic anger, but not with hurt. The type of injustice affects the level of hurt and forgiveness, while chronic anger mediates the link between hurt and forgiveness. To improve coping and promote forgiving, offenders should be helped to identify everyday sources of stress and learn to express vulnerable feelings beneath anger.

Tomaž Erzar, Lifan Yu, Robert D. Enright, Katarina Kompan Erzar
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, June 21, 2018