Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

From Invisible to Conspicuous: The Rise of Victim Activism in the Politics of Justice

O’Leary, Nicola; Green, Simon


Profile Image

Professor Simon Green
Professor of Criminology & Victimology / Senior Researcher in Modern Slavery, Wilberforce Institute


Jacki Tapley

Pamela Davies


Crime victims are now significant voices in criminal justice politics and reform. No longer the invisible or forgotten people of the criminal justice system, the symbolic and political resonance of victimhood has grown to such an extent that the victim now plays an important role in the shaping of public debates about justice. The authors ask how has this come about and is it desirable? Starting with an overview of theories explaining this change, an analysis of high-profile cases is developed in order to illustrate where the victims’ voices have led to changes in the law, criminal justice and society. From the family’s quest for justice in the murders of Stephen Lawrence, Milly Dowler and Clare Wood, to newspaper and social media campaigns, such as Megan and Sarah’s Law through to #MeToo, victim activism is analysed in relation to campaigns driven by injustice, anger, fear, forgiveness and compassion. The chapter concludes by arguing that whilst the media may exaggerate, skew and sometimes sensationalise crime and violence, it also provides a platform for victims to have their voices heard and this has democratised, as well as mediatized their voices.


O’Leary, N., & Green, S. (2020). From Invisible to Conspicuous: The Rise of Victim Activism in the Politics of Justice. In J. Tapley, & P. Davies (Eds.), Victimology : Research, Policy and Activism (159-183). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Acceptance Date Apr 27, 2020
Online Publication Date Jul 2, 2020
Publication Date Jul 3, 2020
Deposit Date Oct 25, 2021
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Pages 159-183
Book Title Victimology : Research, Policy and Activism
Chapter Number 10
ISBN 9783030422875
Public URL