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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Explaining Victims’ “Counter Intuitive” Behavior

June 03, 2014

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Despite their prevalence, crimes of sexual and domestic violence are rarely reported to law enforcement, and even more rare is the charging and criminal prosecution of these crimes. The existence of widespread misconceptions about victims, perpetrators, and the nature of the crimes (i.e., rape myths) contribute to this reality.  Rape myths include misperceptions about who is “rapeable” and how a victim of “real” rape behaves before, during, and after an assault. These myths create a conflict between how many people assume victims should behave and the way in which victims actually behave; this in turn impacts how our justice system responds to survivors. This month NCVLI is issuing two Bulletins - one on sexual violence and one on domestic violence - that identify many of the most common myths, provide evidence to debunk those myths, and explain how victims’ rights compel counteracting these myths within the judicial system. Stay tuned for the release of these and check the Victim Law Library regularly for new releases! 

For Conference attendees (whether in-person or by Livestream), these Bulletins will be augmented by two sessions. First, Dr. Chris Wilson will present “The Neurobiology of Trauma: Using Science to Explain ‘Counterintuitive’ Victim Behavior to Courts”.  Second, Detective Carrie Hull will present on the creation and implementation of the “You Have Options Program”, which is transforming the criminal justice response to sexual assault by putting into practice systems that combat rape myths.