How Do I Know You’re Not Lying? Gender Bias and Sexual Assault Response

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90 Minutes

Originally Aired
September 3, 2019

Chief Jerald Monahan
Jerald Monahan
MS, Chief of Police, Yavapai College
Wendy Patrick
Wendy Patrick
JD, PhD, Deputy District Attorney, District Attorney’s Office

A systematic and impartial law enforcement investigation must seek to avoid drawing on gender-based stereotypes and attitudes at every step of the process. This is why the US Department of Justice (DOJ) published groundbreaking guidance for law enforcement in 2015, entitled, Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.

In this webinar, the presenters will explore the phenomenon of gender bias, both explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious), and the resulting stereotypes and attitudes that can influence the professional response to, and investigation of, sexual assault. The presenters will begin by introducing the concept of implicit bias, and then address key questions about gender bias in particular that can disadvantage (or advantage) either the victim or suspect. The presenters will also describe the critical role gender bias plays in the designation of false reports in cases of sexual assault and will consider the intersection of gender bias and victim recantations.

Unfortunately, one common manifestation of bias is the view that sexual assault disclosures are “false until proven true” – victims are viewed with skepticism until they can prove that they were “really raped.” This is why EVAWI launched Start by Believing, a global campaign to increase awareness of sexual assault and improve societal responses. Communities and agencies that embrace the Start by Believing philosophy can use a variety of EVAWI-created materials to implement reforms and develop their own campaigns and local initiatives. But Start by Believing is more than just a few words. It is not simply a campaign or a pledge; it is a philosophical stance that “flips the script” on the message victims have historically received from professionals and support people, which is: “How do I know you’re not lying?”


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Define the concept of implicit bias and explore how gender bias in particular can influence law enforcement responses and the investigation of sexual assault.
  • Examine the relationship between gender bias and victim selection, victim blaming, false reports, and victim recantations.
  • Describe Start by Believing and other practices that can help to avoid gender bias and increase our opportunities to identify, arrest, and prosecute perpetrators of sexual assault.

With a paid registration or subscription, you are free to personally listen to this webinar, as many times as you wish. You may also excerpt or cite the material following accepted conventions. However, you may not allow other individuals to listen to this webinar without their own registration or subscription.

This project is supported by Grant No. 2016-TA-AX-K010 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

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