This is a very seasoned detective, 15 years in a sex crimes unit. When I asked him sort of what happens when victims come in to report an assault to the criminal justice system, this is what he said. He said: “The stuff they say makes no sense” — referring to victims — “So no I don’t always believe them and yeah I let them know that. And then they say ‘Nevermind. I don’t want to do this.’ Okay, then. Complainant refused to prosecute; case closed.”
So now let’s loop in the rape victim advocate perspective: “It’s hard trying to stop what police do to victims. They don’t believe them and they treat them so bad that the victims give up. It happens over and over again.”
So now let’s loop in the victim’s perspective. In reference to her interactions with her law enforcement officer, she said the following. She said: “He didn’t believe me and he treated me badly. It didn’t surprise me when he said there wasn’t enough to go on to do anything. It didn’t surprise me, but it still hurt.”
From “The Neurobiology of Sexual Assault,” a presentation given by Professor Rebecca Campbell to the National Institute of Justice (transcript).
Professor Campbell’s research was an attempt to investigate why the police could be so certain that most of the victims reporting rape and sexual assault were lying, while she was so certain that most were not.
What she found was that there are certain neurological events during a sexual assault that explain most of the officer’s complaints:
Tonic Immobility, also known as “rape-induced paralysis”:
…the most marked characteristic of tonic immobility is muscular paralysis. A victim in a state of tonic immobility cannot move. She cannot move her hands. She cannot move her arms. She cannot move her legs. She cannot move her torso. She cannot move her head. She is paralyzed in that state of incredible fear.
Research suggests that between 12 and 50 percent of rape victims experience tonic immobility during a sexual assault, and most data suggests that the rate is actually closer to the 50 percent than the 12 percent.
How stress hormones make it difficult for the brain to encode and consolidate memories:
That’s why memory can be slow and difficult — because the encoding and the consolidation went down in a fragmented way. It went down on little tiny post-it notes and they were put in all different places in the mind. And you have to sort through all of it, and it’s not well-organized, because remember I told you to put some of them in folders that had nothing to do with this. I told you to put one in the pencil jar. It’s not where it’s supposed to be. It takes a while to find all the pieces and put them together. So that’s why victims, when they’re trying to talk about this assault, it comes out slow and difficult.
“Flat affect” and “strange emotions” from victims:
So the behavior that they see is due to a hormonal soup. Remember how we talked about how those hormones can sometimes even be working at cross-purposes. Which hormones are released at which levels? We don’t know yet. We don’t have data on that, but we know that there’s a lot — that those are the four main ones that are being released and that they can kind of put the body at cross-purposes. So what is often interpreted as a victim being cavalier because she’s just sitting there or interpreted as lying because she seems so cavalier and not upset about it, is very likely attributable to the opiate levels in her body, because those will be released at the time of the assault and they can stay very elevated for 96 hours post assault. So the key thing that practitioners need to know is that there is, in fact, a wide reaction of emotional reactions to sexual assault, and it can be helpful to normalize those reactions for victims, because they don’t understand why they’re behaving that way either.
What I’d ask for commenters is:
- Please read the transcript or watch the video
- Please don’t be a jerk. That doesn’t mean agree, but it does mean that if you disagree, please disagree in a non-jerky way.
The “flat affect” and “strange emotions” part scares me. According to a whole lot of people, I nearly always have that. My family and close friends can understand how I’m feeling, but among strangers, or people who I don’t know too well, people will frequently look at the way I’m reacting to something, whether my facial expressions or body language or the fact that I’m not jumping up and down with glee at something good or crying my eyes out and rending my garments at something bad, and will tell me that I’m not feeling the right things. They’ll insist that they can tell what I’m feeling from watching me (they’re always wrong), and that my feelings are the wrong ones. This is just how I’ve always been — people have been telling me that my face shows the wrong feelings since I was a little kid. I’ve gotten better at looking like people expect me to look, but it takes effort to do it, and in a traumatic situation, that effort would be involved in other stuff. It’s terrifying to me that, if I were raped, police could disbelieve me because they didn’t think I was feeling the right things.
One of the thing I took from this, especially from the Tonic Immobility section, was how it reinforces the need for a yes-means-yes standard. Because people who are being sexually assaulted may not be able to say no.
I know I harp on training in my comments. But how the fuck can someone work a job for 15 years and not figure out things I worked out talking people out of some seriously dark places back when I was 19 years old? I mean come on, my own PTSD, suicidality and two personality disorders didn’t give me insight. Hell, I had less than usual then, and I still knew more than the guy you quoted.
I think the theme for Winter 2014 is that “experts we thought knew important skills are actually just paid amateurs.” I’ll have to read that transcript after finals, saved to my desktop. Thanks for the find.
The thing is, a lot of these patterns are not unique to rape. Other violent crimes and human rights abuses elicit similar reactions in their victims. Police and other investigative agencies are able prosecute those crimes and protect those victims in most cases (and when they’re not, I suspect other axis of oppression are often in play). The underlying problem is not lack of understanding about how human beings process trauma. It is an unwillingness to trust the testimony of women.*
*and proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard for a conviction – not the standard to start are serious investigation with the presumption that the accusser is not lying.
Huh. So, looking at statistics for unreported crimes rape is definitely more likely to go unreported, but not orders of magnitude more likely, and a heck of a lot of non-sexual assaults also go unreported because the police would not help.
So clearly to some degree, yeah, there’s belittling / misogyny at play, but to some degree, the police just plain treat non-stereotypical trauma survivors like liars.
Ben – those are really interesting statistics. Marginalization by age (12-17 year olds) appears to be a really major issue. Since young women are so much more likely to be victims of sexual assault, that could also be a significant contributing factor in the lower reporting rates. Another major factor in the decision not to report is if one knows ones attacker. We have a justice system which is so dehumanizing that a lot of people, even people with privilege, can’t bring themselves to submit people they love (or even like) to it.
What your statistics don’t address is what happens when one does choose to go to the police (ie. rates of prosecution and conviction). That’s really what I was thinking about. So, on one level, 65% of victims of sexual assault never go to the police in the first place (as opposed to 42-50% for violent crime more generally – that 15-23% difference is not “orders of magnitude”, but it’s a significant percentage). But then (and I don’t have links), but I think you also have lower rates of prosecution and lower rates of conviction for rape. So, each step of the way the disparity between the consequences for rape compared to consequences for other violent crimes grows.
Awareness of these factors is useful. However, I’d like to see a side-by-side comparison of the characteristics of those who are later proven to be lying. Being ‘so certain’ is a problem in either direction, surely.
I’m not sure. I’d be suspicious of someone being ‘so certain’ that all professed victims of sexual assault are telling the truth, and I certainly don’t agree that all or most are lying, but being certain that most people reporting sexual assault are telling the truth sounds reasonable to me.
It’s not even a sexual assault thing – I think that most people reporting crimes in general are telling the truth. I think that “people who will lie to the police about being a victim of a violent crime” are in the minority.
It makes sense that someone who has been subjected to a violent crime may display dissassociated behavior. If someone is reporting a crime, it needs to be checked out. While the police may find that there is not enough evidence to sustain a court case, that doesn’t mean that the crime didn’t happen. People should not be reluctant to report a violent crime because they have a reasonable expectation that the police will trivialize it or discourage them.
The question keeps being framed in the context of whether or not a cop believes the person claiming to be a victim. But from where I sit that’s mis-framing the issue. Whether or not the individual cop believes the purported victim should be immaterial. While the cop involved may well quickly form a personal opinion based on biases (in either direction) or experience, their actual job is neither to believe nor disbelieve that person. And it seems to me that they should not express belief or disbelief to the person. Their job is to ask questions, gather what evidence may be available, check it out, see what they can figure out and then make a decision on how to proceed based on what they find. And the cop should communicate all of these points to the person making the report.
If a cop starts immediately discounting a report and discouraging the person reporting it based on this manner of behavior, it seems to me that they’re not doing their job and some education of the police would be in order.
Rape is a crime of detail. Unlike almost all other violent crimes, rape is unusual in that minor differences in timing, communication, and sequence can wholly change the legal outcome.
Problem, is, rape victims are often wrong about those details. (Or lying, which is more or less common depending on the situation but also exists.) Even people who are rape advocates seem to admit that.
The result is a bit catch-22 and should be shocking to any liberal who looks at it generally: If there’s an inaccuracy it is always considered in favor of the accuser, and the fact that accusers ARE inaccurate shouldn’t ever be used to generally attack the accuracy of their overall reporting.
If you applied that to anything other than “rape,” would it sound reasonable? I don’t think so.
G&W, this article is specifically about reasons that the police ought not dismiss complaints out of hand, and should instead be aware of some of the specific neurological reasons for victims seeming “off.” That is, it’s about the need to take complaints seriously and investigate them, not anything to do with weighing accusers versus defendants at all.
It’s a bit disturbing that your response had so little to do with the posted study, and doubly so because you post this comment, or something very like it, in nearly every single thread discussing rape.
Did you read the article or watch the presentation?
Additionally, when you say:
It’s unclear to me whether you’re saying:
1) That this is the current state of affairs, which seems flatly untrue (in that there are times when inaccuracies are used to bolster the defense).
2) That the article is claiming that this ought to be the way things work, in which case I’d like a direct quote to that effect.
3) That one of the commenters is saying that this ought to be the way things work, in which case I’d like a direct quote to that effect.
In my experience as someone who has received many reports of crimes over many years, yes, most people reporting crimes are telling the truth.
That said, false reports do happen. I have in mind a fellow who reported, very convincingly, the theft of his SUV. He was loading groceries into it outside of a local store, he explained, and someone just got into it and drove it away. Naturally he called us immediately. He pinned down the exact time. We put out a BOL. …and an alert and suspicious Dispatcher several towns south of us ran the VIN on a car fire they had covered about an hour BEFORE he made his report… and it matched the VIN of the car he was reporting stolen.
In other words, he torched his car, in the woods, for the insurance money, and got a little too cute about the details when reporting it stolen. I confronted him and he denied it, very convincingly. I’d have believed him if what he was telling me was physically possible. But it wasn’t. A short time later he lawyered up, and eventually pled guilty to some of the small flotilla of charges he got, which included false report.
I recall another false report where an arrested individual accused the arresting officer of sexual assault, and I had to do an internal investigation. Unlike many victims of sexual assault, she gave a very specific and consistent report. However, it bore little resemblance to what the video showed, and the actual moments of assault which she reported were plainly not present in the video. The officer was VERY fortunate, not just that there was video, but that it plainly showed light between them except when he braced her against the car with his hip (not his groin, as she reported) to get her into handcuffs as she struggled not to be handcuffed.
Based on her physical signs, I think she was drawing on memory, not invention. I think she was sexually assaulted, in a manner physically like what she reported … just not by that officer, in the time and place which she specified very precisely.
Why did she make that report? I don’t know. I do know that every time we deal with her, I send two officers and tell them to audio and videotape everything.
Looking back, I note that in sexual assault reports I’ve taken, the victim often does not give a very coherent account, especially at first. The ones who have a clear, detailed story which hardly changes are rare… and the false report above was one of them.
Of course, having attended training much like the presentation Myca links to, I know why this is. I also know that the same thing happens with many victims of non-sexual violent assault, including police officers. When a victim gives a detail the following day which she didn’t give on the day of the report, does that mean she’s making it up? Absolutely not, but that’s the belief of many people, including some past police administrators I know. When an officer gives a more complete report after a night’s sleep than she gave the day she had to shoot a human being, does that mean that she’s “taken time to get her story together”? Certainly not; that’s how human memory works. But that doesn’t stop lawyers for the other side from making hay with these “contradictions”, and it doesn’t stop defense attorneys from calling sexual assault victims liars by pointing to the same kind of evidence.
Those aren’t the only false reports I’ve taken, by any means. And there are plenty where you simply never know, for sure, because there’s no meaningful physical evidence and the statements of the witnesses contradict each other on key points.
All that said, most reports are borne out by the evidence. And, I have seen officers confront victims about false report, telling them that their stories don’t add up… only to have more evidence come to light which is consistent with the story they gave. It’s one reason that I, personally, even when I’m suspicious of the report, don’t confront the reporter until I have pretty convincing evidence that the report is false. Otherwise, I treat it as true and run with it. Does this sometimes waste my time? Yes. But I spend the time gladly rather than risk telling an actual assault victim that she’s lying.
There are officers out there who take a different view. Some of them are my co-workers. They call me naive.
Wow, how condescending. Thank-you for taking the time to write that.
The phrasing ‘reporting a crime’ itself reveals a prejudicial assumption. You could just as easily say that someone is ‘making a complaint,’ in which case the presumption that they’re probably telling the truth doesn’t sound so likely.
We… are using more-or-less standard colloquial American English, yes?
Because “make a complaint” covers a lot more ground than “report a crime”, which is much more specific. I can make a complaint to the restaurant manager about the limp salad, or to the public works department about the potholes on my road, but I can only report a crime to a sworn officer who has jurisdiction.
And since the topic is crime as a legal matter, rather than as a gastronomical matter, “report a crime” seems reasonably accurate and straightforward. If you really had to step back from it because you genuinely felt that it was prejudicial, I suppose you could say, “allege a crime” or “report a matter which, if true, would be a crime”. But since it’s perfectly clear that the process we’re talking about is the one where a person goes to a police officer and gives information which could lead a police officer to investigate further, and where the police officer may or may not find that said person was truthful, “report a crime” seems to me to be, if not like unto a scalpel in its precision, reasonably like a utility knife.
I can understand — not agree with, but understand — why some police officers generally don’t believe women reporting rapes. But I can’t understand what purpose they think is served by being assholes towards those women.
I had a guy try to rape me once, when I was 17. The whole “stranger in a dark place” thing. I fought him off, ran to neighboring houses to get a flashlight so I could go back to find the eyeglasses he had knocked off me (talk about not acting rationally), found the glasses, returned the flashlight, and ran all the way to my boyfriend’s house. He took me home, and my mother called the police. I will say that to this day I suffer more from the effects of how the police acted than from the attempted rape. (I’m sure I would evaluate the experiences very differently if I had actually been raped, but the cops would still have been awful.) They started by asking what had happened and when, then berated me for not calling them immediately so they could have searched for the guy in the area right away. Then they asked me whether I was just covering up for a fight with my boyfriend. Then they asked for a description, which I couldn’t give (other than height, build, and general skin tone) because he had come up behind me and I was busy fighting, not looking at his face. And they got all annoyed with me because of this.
So they told me to come and look at mug shots the next day. Which I did: they gave me a big book of photos, and with the shaky grasp of his looks that I had to begin with, and my admitted lousy visual memory, by the end of the first page the photos stopped looking like anything but each other. Which I told them, upon which they told me that they knew I was making the whole thing up and wasting their time. And … based on what had happened, I knew that they couldn’t identify the guy, and I felt wretched about that because I was afraid he would attack someone else. I knew I didn’t have information that could have helped them, and I didn’t expect them to be able to do anything about catching the guy, based on my pathetic attempts. But I also felt that if there was ever any way I could have come up with a good description, they hadn’t gone that way but instead had done whatever they could to drive the guy’s picture out of my memory. And then they told me to tell them which picture most resembled the guy, and if I didn’t they would know I was lying. At which point I totally freaked out, because to my mind the next worst thing to the guy not being caught was me falsely accusing someone who had the misfortune to look like what by that time I could no longer clearly remember.
Would it have killed them to say that based on the information I could give them they couldn’t proceed, which I understood, without calling me a liar to my face several times and trying to get me to accuse someone random? Would it have been too much to ask that they not say that my not choosing a face out of their book meant I didn’t want them to catch my attacker? The attack I got over, over time; the fact that I had successfully fought it off helped. But I haven’t looked at police officers the same way since. I’m grateful to Grace (heh) for reminding me that there are good officers out there, and giving me a glimpse into that mindset. It’s probably too late to change my gut reactions, though.
Since people are generally *very* bad at recalling things coherently, I’m very much convinced that trauma will make that even worse. So, yes, from that point of view, theoretically, a coherent story may seem more manufactured than an incoherent one.
But how can *that* be usefully integrated into a prosecurial structure? We’re going to investigate sexual assault because the complainant’s story “made no sense” and not making sense is typical? How’s that even going to work? You may well be right that “yes means yes” is the only logical answer to the conundrum – but it has its very own problems.
Did you read the article or watch the presentation?
I did, in fact. And I’m all for giving the victims a coffee and time to collect their thoughts, but I doubt that will help with the fundamental judicial problem, not only for cases of sexual assault: We have, on the one hand, multiple subjective realities that are formed, encoded, stored, and retrieved for further internal and external manipulation in a circular repetitive process, and on the other hand the fictitious but legally necessary assumption of “facts” and a singular, comprehensive reality.
We also require mens rea for a lot of punishable actions, for good reason. Mens rea is, as neurological research has also shown, in many ways a conceptual crutch, because we don’t understand the complexiy with which the brain is doing what and how it is doing what it is doing. There are not just a few brain scholars who are questioning the concept of mens rea entirely based on neurological research, and thus believe that criminal activity occurs not because of the perpetrator’s free will. So we may end up with a crime, but not a perpetrator. should be careful with the introducation of this line of research into legal doctrine that has the potential to change the way we construe even basic categories of our legal and non-legal world out there, at least until we have come up with a working way of reconstructing them with the new research in mind.
I’m not sure we need to go to “but what if there’s no free will” here.
I think it’s sufficient to let this be what it is – ways that the police can do their best not to engage in secondary victimization of people reporting sexual assaults. So hey, someone comes in with an incoherent story. What this is saying is not “start inventing ways that their story works” or “go arrest someone immediately.” It’s saying, “give them time to think, and don’t hold it against them that they’re flustered and traumatized.”
I’m not sure it needs to be. This is about integrating it into an initial investigative structure.
No, and I’d disagree that that’s a fair reading of the author’s meaning.
I disagree. “Make sure you’re not sexually assaulting people,” is the best way both to not sexually assault people and to avoid being accused of sexual assault.
It absolutely needs to be. Yes, investigators need to understand it, but also, prosecutors need to understand why trauma victims’ statements and testimony may contain details which seem weird, because they need to explain it to the judge or jury.
The information presented in Myca’s link was mostly not new to me. My local county attorney has, for years, been co-sponsoring training on various aspects of investigating sexual assault, and has said they have been having success prosecuting cases which previously would have been regarded as not prosecutable, and/or which would have been pled down to a lesser offense. That success comes as a result of better understanding how to accurately interpret the testimonial evidence.
Take, for instance, a detail in nm’s account: she returned to the scene of her assault immediately, apparently alone, with a flashlight to look for her glasses. To a person sitting in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee, that seems absurd. Defense attorneys absolutely will make the argument that it showed that she was not, in fact, afraid, and therefore her account cannot be true in important details; perhaps she had a spat with a lover and felt she had to explain running around in the dark with a flashlight. Prosecutors need to be able to counter that argument, and they do it by presenting research that shows that victims of many kinds of trauma do things which seem nonsensical immediately after the assault, and that in fact sometimes those things are evidence supporting the existence of an assault, rather than countering it.
All officers need to know this material, because any officer may be the point of first contact. Any attorney prosecuting crimes of violence needs to know this material.
That’s a really fantastic point. I think I was more focused on people trying to invalidate the narrow application of the study because of concerns about a broader application, but you’re right – the broader application is clearly important as well.
One of my lectures in my forensic social work class this semester was detailing the various ways that the professor had been an expert witness as a CPS social worker and then used expert witnesses when she was a prosecutor. The problem of explaining witness behavior and how it may not conform to judge and jury expectations made it a good course.
One reason it is probably so important is the “have you ever been a crime victim” question asked at jury selection. Having people in the jury room who can say “Oh, no, that’s how I reacted too” would probably help. But then so would jury instructions that didn’t put the jury to sleep half way through.
This may be a wildly unfair generalization, but it strikes me that males (to whom most rape reports are made, be they violent rapes on the streets, date rapes, clergy sexual misbehavior, whatever) seem to have some kind of bias towards the idea that an alleged rape didn’t really happen, it wasn’t that bad, etc.
IF this is true I have no idea why it would be, except that the huge majority of sexual offenders are males, and there might be something in the psyche of even many good men which can at least relate to the offender.
I am thinking here specifically of nm’s account. There was no solid reason to doubt her story, but the male police officers immediately criticized her for going back to pick up evidence (!), accused the boyfriend of being involved, demanded that she be able to identify someone she had not been able to see (because of the darkness)….all without any justification that I can find. If she had been a man reporting an armed robbery, would she have been subjected to all this? What if the people she had reported the rape to had all been women officers? Her story and so many like it strike me as having been affected by a deep-seated bias.
In no way am I claiming that this is deliberate, but it feels to me at least as though this idea is not entirely without foundation.
Susan, I don’t think your theory fits all the available data. As counterarguments, I can say:
– Being skeptical of rape victims is not a solely, or even dominantly, male pursuit. (The first example that springs to mind is the rather horrid answers sometimes given by female advice columnists to reader questions that include issues of consent.) Being associated with feminism tends to decrease these skeptical and blaming behaviors, but that’s true of both men and women–it’s just that more women pay attention to feminist arguments.
– In particular, where male police officers are skeptical of reported rapes, female police officers also tend to be skeptical of those reports. They may on average be more likely to believe them or to treat the victims nicely, some of which may be gender socialization differences, but there are certainly many stories of women police officers who pull this BS too.
– I’m not sure if there’s much data on this, but I don’t expect that police officers would be particularly kinder to men who report sexual assault than they are to women who report it. (The reasons would be somewhat different, of course.) And, similarly, women are likely–if not as likely as men–to trivialize instances of sexual assault or rape against men.
– This is not a directly analogous situation, but I was told by a prosecutor that for domestic violence cases they prefer male jurors to female jurors: male jurors are more likely to convict. (We were only discussing domestic violence cases, so I have no information on how this applies to other crimes which largely are perpetrated by one gender against another.) So, at least for domestic violence cases, the idea that
would be the opposite of what actually occurs.
Look, lots of people are awful when they hear of a reported rape. And lots of that awfulness is certainly because rape is a crime that happens more often to women than men. But I think extending that to “men in particular are awful about reported rapes because on some level they sympathize with the rapist” is way too simple an explanation to describe what actually happens, in addition to being, y’know, pretty unkind to the vast majority of non-rapist men.
I believe prosecutors do prefer male jurors to female jurors in rape cases. One source for this is the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence’s Voir Dire and Prosecution Tips for Sexual Assault Cases:
I realize that there is no survey of prosecutors backing that statement up, but if the sentence made it into NCDSV’s guidance to prosecutors it reflects a counterintuitive but widespread belief in the legal community.
EDITED TO ADD: When reading that, bear in mind that in many (all?) jurisdictions prosecutors are not allowed to strike a juror from the panel on the basis of sex. So NCDSV can’t openly say “We recommend prosecutors strike female jurors in sexual assault cases.” With that in mind, the language I quoted (which leads the second paragraph in a 7 page paper) would be understood by a prosecutor as a strong warning against seating female jurors in sexual assault cases.
Fibi, thanks, that’s really interesting!
Does the Satanic Ritual Abuse witch hunt give any of you pause? The last time feminists and psychologists got together to get this line of reasoning pushed on juries it didn’t work out so well.
You see the Satanic Panic as promulgated by feminists and psychologists.
Wow- the “Flat Affect” and “Strange Emotions” section really hit home for me. I’ve never been the victim of sexual assault, but I was the victim of abuse as a child, and I distinctly remember this odd, almost out-of-body feeling that kicked in at some point, and lasted for a while after.
My stepmother would ambush me and start screaming at me, demeaning me and threatening me, and at first, I would be terrified. Then, after a while, it just didn’t matter any more. It was almost as if I was staring at myself from outside- I felt very clinical, very objective about the whole thing. She’s inches away from my face. She’s calling me a worthless slug. She’s threatening to kill me in my sleep.
One time, I actually started to giggle. This infuriated her, and she dragged me by my ear to my room and threw me in. I faceplanted into the nightstand, and chipped my right front tooth. I remember just sitting there, taking note of the chip, and kind of shrugging it off. No pain. Just this odd, “I’m not really here” feeling.
When I would call my mother and report these incidents, she would brush them off, and say I was lying or exaggerating because I was so calm, and if it had “really happened”, I wouldn’t be so calm. That accusation, of course, would send me into hysterics. But the incident itself? Not so much. Now I think I know why.
What you’re describing sounds, to me, like dissociation:
Dissociation is not, by itself, bad. Like an adrenaline dump, it can be an adaptive response to a currently-inescapable traumatic situation. But the brain gets better at things it does a lot, and so dissociation can become a strategy which is too easy to go to… just like an adrenaline dump.
So, it sounds like it was adaptive, in the situation you experienced as a child; it got you through the situation and minimized some of the damage. If it’s still a regular part of your life in adulthood, it may be causing other issues… including enabling you to enter into abusive situations, or remain in them, when otherwise you would remove yourself from them. So, I hope that you are in a better situation now, or able to work toward it.
Your mother’s response, to tell you that you are lying when you reach out for help… that would traumatize anyone, especially any child, and that’s exactly the trauma I try to avoid by not calling assault survivors liars without excellent evidence.
Pete Patriot @29: That would be the panic in which alleged victims were told they were lying, and pressured to change what they said until it was what law enforcement wanted to hear. One would think that lesson would give you pause on the subject of this discussion.
Harlequin @26, I doubt there is a single unified field theory that fits all the available data; but it would be surprising if police officers were, unlike the general population, uniquely free of sexism, particularly as in the US, women still make up a minority of the police force. Yes, there are sexist women too; not convinced that is proof that men are less likely to buy into rape myths or gender normativity if they are police officers, particularly given the higher rates of domestic violence among law enforcement.
As for female vs. male jurors, yes, that has nothing much to do with the subject, unless we’re now shifted to “yes, but women are even MORE awful!” as sometimes happens in these discussions. The belief that women are tougher on accusers in rape cases is all about defensive attribution. That is, victim-blaming reduces our fear that we will also be victims.
“The belief that women are tougher on accusers in rape cases is all about defensive attribution. That is, victim-blaming reduces our fear that we will also be victims.”
That’s not what it’s “all” about, because there is also the aspect that women can more easily understand and detect manipulation on the part of other women and are more critical in general. Lots of *chivalrous* men don’t have a clue and attribute sugar and spice to all women.
I don’t think that’s true at all–I was just disputing Susan’s theory that
and that this is, apparently, a mostly/purely male thing, because I see an awful lot of this behavior from women too. I mean–I’m sure men do it more, but it’s not nearly as clear cut as men vs women for this issue, or at least not MORE so than the usual society is. (That’s where the jury thing came in too.)
Would you mind pointing to which part of my comment made you think I believe this? It’s a pretty severe misstatement on my part if I said something that gave this impression, and I’d like to avoid it in the future.
Fibi, I heard once that the worst jurors from a rape defendant’s perspective were fathers of daughters, and that female jurors tended to really not like to believe the stories of rape victims, because they were generally ‘but for the grace of God go I’, rather than ‘you were a fool for walking naked into a biker bar’.