Dr. Nina Burrowes
Dr Nina Burrowes is a psychologist who helps people understand the psychology of child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, sexual assault, rape and domestic abuse. She works closely with the police, prosecutors, barristers, and judges in the UK providing education and consultancy. She is the author of ‘Responding to the challenge of rape myths in court: A guide for prosecutors’ and the founder of The Consent Collective.
I don’t remember how I first came across Nina but I know it was when I was seeing my psychiatrist, and I read her book, The Courage To Be Me. I remember going into my next session and telling her that Nina’s drawing of the window of tolerance was something she should print out and use because it was far prettier than her own illustration. It’s true that reading The Courage To Be Me shed so much light on what was going on for me, and had been going on for me for the past over four years, that it took my breath away. I was an instant fan.
So, when I started working in this space, and saw that Nina would be speaking at SARSAS in Bristol, I decided I had to be there too. I took my copy of the Courage To Be Me, and got it signed. And I followed Nina to RSVP shortly afterwards too. She hasn’t held this rather stalkery behaviour against me at all, and I’m so delighted to be able to count her as a colleague and mentor.
In true Nina style, in her chapter she questions the very meaning of justice, going to the etymology of the word and challenging whether when we say we want justice, what we mean we want is something very different. Justice isn’t a binary, it can’t be, it’s complex and needs more sophistication and nuance. Nina wants to see a collaboration emerge between lawyers, and those who can embrace the non-binary that justice needs: psychologists, social workers, therapists.
Nina talks about needing to make a big difference, and therefore needing to make a big change. The System will only replicate itself, perhaps we need to rip it up and start again? She asks, who is this System serving? Really only the person who wants to get away with it, and those who want to feel they are living in a false sense of security.
She challenges the Justice System to become more creative. We know this is a repeat offence. Why aren’t we joining the dots more often? It’s a serious offence, it needs to be resourced, and build an investigation around the whole picture of the offences. But it’s also a high-volume offence and many officers are buckling under the pressure. If we really do want to take these offences seriously, we need to give serious resource to every report.
There was a lot more we discussed, but I don’t want to give it all away before you read it!
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