Person reference in police interviews: A case study of domestic violence in Indonesia

Dhion Meitreya Vidhiasi, R. Dian Dia-an Muniroh, Wawan Gunawan, Eri Kurniawan, Budi Hermawan, Yanty Wirza, Teni Hadiyani


Person reference plays a critical role in judicial discourse, influencing perceptions of impartiality and respect. Person reference can express partiality or respect, either through solidarity with, or the humanization of, witnesses, victims, suspects, or defendants in law enforcement settings. Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge that verbal violence or dehumanization can sometimes be perceived as a manifestation of impartiality, when individuals employ words that inflict harm upon others. This study employs a qualitative approach to examine the utilization of person reference by two police investigators during their interview of a suspect involved in a domestic violence incident. The data consisted of transcripts from two experimental setup interviews conducted by two police investigators with one adult individual assuming the role of a suspect. The research revealed that law enforcement investigators employed formal nomination categories during interviews in order to establish a significant level of separation between the investigating officers and the individual under investigation. The present study revealed that two police investigators made efforts to humanize the suspect. Nevertheless, the transition from using the honorifics "Bapak/Pak (Mr/Sir)" as a sign of reverence for older males, to employing the term "Saudara (metaphorical brother/sister)" in a legal setting, indicating a lack of familiarity in the connection, results in an escalation of social distance. This realization advances our knowledge of the subtle ways in which linguistic decisions can affect law enforcement interactions, offering valuable implications for improving the fairness and effectiveness of judicial discourse.


Domestic violence; Indonesian police; investigative interview; person reference; suspect

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.

View My Stats

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.