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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Working to Dispel Rape Myths

January 09, 2012

It is far too common that victims of sexual assault are subjected to invasions of privacy during the investigation and prosecution of their offenders and that cultural assumptions about rape and rape victims inform the administration of justice.  NCVLI’s Responding to Violence Against Women Project is committed to ensuring that the justice process does not become a re-traumatizing experience for victims of sexual assault.  NCVLI recently provided support in a case dealing with these very issues. 

An attorney with the United States Navy Judge Advocate General Corps contacted NCVLI for assistance quashing a military defendant’s subpoena for a rape victim’s Facebook account.  The defendant, in possession of a photograph of the victim at the hospital that was posted on Facebook, is arguing that because the victim is smiling in the photo, she was not raped.  Based upon this single photo and rape myth, the defendant is seeking the victim’s Facebook account because he claims there may be other pictures that would support an argument that she is not acting like a victim.  Fortunately, NCVLI had worked with partners on this very issue recently and was able to provide the attorney with an amicus brief that argued the validity of a rape report cannot be based on the behavior of a stereotypical or model rape victim and dispelled other rape myths.

Our amicus briefs educate the courts about how their decisions will impact victims and move us a step closer to ensuring that each case fulfills its potential to improve the landscape for future victims by setting positive legal precedent.  Donate today to help us build a better future for victims!