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Introducing Expert Testimony to Explain Victim Behavior in Sexual and Domestic Violence Prosecutions
The prevalence of sexual and domestic violence myths causes the public to search for reasons to doubt, rather than reasons to believe, allegations of a domestic or sexual assault. This doubt often is fueled by a focus on the victim’s behavior both during and after the assault, which laypeople—who generally are inexperienced and uneducated about common victim responses to trauma—may find puzzling. Frequently, the public’s expectations of how victims “should” behave conflict with the way victims actually behave. When this occurs, the public perceives a victim’s behavior as “counterintuitive,” and, therefore, compelling evidence of her lack of credibility. Mental health experts as well as other professionals who work with domestic or sexual violence victims, however, understand that behavior termed counterintuitive by the public actually represents common victim responses to trauma.
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Last Updated: 10/22/2018 10:43:05 AM
Keywords: Expert Testimony, Domestic Violence, Victim Behavior
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