Why cops don’t believe rape victims

Rebecca Ruiz, in Slate.com., looks at the brain science that explains why those working for the justice system often do not believe rape victims, and how to solve the dilemma.


Ruiz’s article begins with Tom Tremblay, who was an investigator in Burlington Vermont’s sex crimes unit:

Tremblay felt sex assault victims were telling the truth, and data supports his instincts: Only an estimated 2 to 8 percent of rape accusations are false, according to a survey of the literature published by the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women. Tremblay also knew the victims felt as if they were being treated like suspects, and it affected the choices they made. Surveyed about why they didn’t want to pursue a report, most victims said they worried that no one would believe them.

This is rape culture in action. It puts the burden of proving innocence on the victim, and from Steubenville, Ohio, to Notre Dame and beyond, we’ve seen it poison cases and destroy lives. But science is telling us that our suspicions of victims, the ones that seem like common sense, are flat-out baseless. A number of recent studies on neurobiology and trauma show that the ways in which the brain processes harrowing events accounts for victim behavior that often confounds cops, prosecutors, and juries.

The detailed article shares techniques emerging from science that are changing the way people view rape investigations, and hopefully can lead to an end of prevalent rape culture in our law enforcement.

Category : The Lead

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3 Comments
  1. tgflux

    I suspect also a fear-based denial? “If this woman was raped, then my mother/sister/wife/daughter could be raped”. Instead, the ostrich sticks his head in the sand. [Just my hunch]

    JC Fisher

  2. Pepper Marts

    With the exception of the brief report on the past decade’s neurobiological research, Ruiz’ article could have been drawn from Susan Brownmiller’s book _Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape_ published by Simon and Schuster in 1975 – nearly 40 years ago.

    Pepper Marts

  3. Kurt Wiesner

    Pepper: that makes all this even more painful…

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