Article

Rape as Viewed By Judges, Prosecutors, and Police Officers

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Abstract

Beliefs about rape held by judges, prosecutors, and police officers were compared with beliefs held by social service personnel. Significant differences were found between social service personnel and members of the criminal justice system in terms of beliefs about (a) causes of rape; (b) ways to reduce the frequency of rape; and (c) the likelihood that any rape complaint is true or false. The groups did not differ in their beliefs about victim characteristics and circumstances associated with "true" and "false" rape reports. These results may account for attributions of responsibility and blame for the rape, and the conflict between social service personnel and members of the criminal justice system in the area of rape.

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... One dominant and destructive characteristic underpinning police participation in rape investigations arises from exaggerated beliefs in the prevalence of false rape allegations. Concern has been expressed internationally regarding the high proportions of sexual assault complaints that are believed to be false (Blair, 1985;Chambers and Millar, 1983;Fairstein, 1993;Feldman-Summers and Palmer, 1980;Gilmore and Pittman, 1993;Gregory and Lees, 1999;Jordan, 2004;Kanin, 1994;Kelly, 2002;London Rape Crisis Centre, 1984;Mintz, 1973;National Center for Women and Policing, 2001;O'Reilly, 1984;Scutt, 1997;Temkin, 2002). One early study conducted in the United States of America, for instance, revealed that the police officers who participated in the research believed approximately three out of every five rape complaints to be either false or mistaken (Feldman- Summers and Palmer, 1980). ...
... Concern has been expressed internationally regarding the high proportions of sexual assault complaints that are believed to be false (Blair, 1985;Chambers and Millar, 1983;Fairstein, 1993;Feldman-Summers and Palmer, 1980;Gilmore and Pittman, 1993;Gregory and Lees, 1999;Jordan, 2004;Kanin, 1994;Kelly, 2002;London Rape Crisis Centre, 1984;Mintz, 1973;National Center for Women and Policing, 2001;O'Reilly, 1984;Scutt, 1997;Temkin, 2002). One early study conducted in the United States of America, for instance, revealed that the police officers who participated in the research believed approximately three out of every five rape complaints to be either false or mistaken (Feldman- Summers and Palmer, 1980). Factors identified as relating to the perceived 'truthfulness' of an allegation were noted: ...
... In this sense, police culture has merely reflected the attitudes of a wider society, which also relies on mythology as the basis for understanding rape and sexual assault. (Nixon, 1992, p. 42) Moreover, knowledge of the prevalence of such beliefs amongst the police can impact detrimentally on complainants (Feldman- Summers and Palmer, 1980;Gilmore and Pittman, 1993). Fearing disbelief and judgment, victims of rape may try to embellish their accounts, or conceal wrongdoing, in order to make themselves appear more 'believable' to the police. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
The responses of criminal justice system agencies to women rape complainants have reflected patriarchal legacies of thinking and representation. Legal discourse has reinforced views of women as inherently deceitful, their word as typically flawed. For a raped woman to have her allegation believed inevitably meant having her very person put on trial along with the offence. This chapter begins by reviewing legal and court initiatives before focussing on police responses to women rape victims. Relevant international literature is presented along with the results of a New Zealand study which sought to evaluate the impacts of recent reforms on women’s experiences of reporting and trial processes.
... Contextual factors may influence perceptions of credibility or believability in reports of rape. Law enforcement officials consider legal variables such as physical evidence and witness accounts in allegations of sexual assault made by non-incarcerated victims, (Amir, 1971;Campbell & Johnson, 1997;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Lafree, 1981;Weis & Borges, 1975). However, judgments of victims also influence whether their reports of rape are viewed as credible. ...
... However, judgments of victims also influence whether their reports of rape are viewed as credible. How victims report the incident and the victim-offender relationship may also influence whether officers believe reports of rape (Estrich, 1987;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Jordan, 2004;Weis & Borges, 1975). Some female victims are seen as less credible than others and some police investigators still view allegations of rape with suspicion and disbelief (Jordan, 2004). ...
... They were less likely to define a situation as rape when inmates were coerced, were considered snitches, or were indebted to the perpetrator than when inmates were physically threatened or overpowered. The literature on rape victims in the community also suggests that criminal justice officials may use situational context (e.g., whether force was used and victim behavior) as well as legal cues (e.g., whether the victim consented) to define incidents as rape (Amir, 1971;Campbell & Johnson, 1997;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Weis & Borges, 1975). Eigenberg (2000a) found that officers were more likely to define assaultive situations as rape if they avoided blaming victims of rape for their victimization. ...
... The general perception of police officers is that they hold much more negative attitudes toward rape victims than other populations within society. For example, Feldman-Summers and Palmer (1980) found in a comparison of several relevant professional groups that police officers gave the lowest estimates of the percentage of reported rapes as being true. Furthermore, judges, prosecuting attorneys, and police officers tended to endorse beliefs about the causes of rape as being male sexual frustrations, that rapists were mentally ill, or poor judgments by women. ...
... We have a limited knowledge of current police officer rape myth acceptance (Page, 2010), and where the research has examined these attitudes, there has been no comparison group to understand whether police officer attitudes are more negative than other populations (e.g., Lee et al., 2012;Sleath & Bull, 2012). Also, previous research that has compared police officers attitudes about rape (e.g., blame) with other samples is very dated (e.g., Feild, 1978;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Koppelaar et al., 1997). Therefore, it is clear that there is scope to achieve a more current understanding of police officer rape myth acceptance in comparison with other samples. ...
... The previous literature has provided practical examples of how this skepticism may manifest itself in real life. For example, Feldman-Summers and Palmer (1980) found that police officers gave the lowest percentage estimates of the number of reported rapes being true. These low estimates may represent an example of how rape myth acceptance may guide police officer perceptions as argued by Edward and MacLeod (1999). ...
Article
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A common perception is that police officers hold very negative attitudes about rape victims. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to establish whether police officers do accept stereotypical rape myths at a higher level compared to members of other populations. There were 3 comparison samples, composed of police officers, law students, and psychology students, that completed the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance scale. Male and female police officers accepted "she lied" myths at a higher level than the student samples. Student samples were found to accept 2 types of rape myths ("she asked for it" and "he didn't meant to") at a higher level compared to police officers. No significant differences were found in the other 4 subfactors. Therefore, the pattern of results suggests that police officers do not adhere to stereotypical myths about rape victims more than do other populations.
... One dominant and destructive characteristic underpinning police participation in rape investigations arises from exaggerated beliefs in the prevalence of false rape allegations. Concern has been expressed internationally regarding the high proportions of sexual assault complaints that are believed to be false (Blair, 1985;Chambers and Millar, 1983;Fairstein, 1993;Feldman-Summers and Palmer, 1980;Gilmore and Pittman, 1993;Gregory and Lees, 1999;Jordan, 2004;Kanin, 1994;Kelly, 2002;London Rape Crisis Centre, 1984;Mintz, 1973;National Center for Women and Policing, 2001;O'Reilly, 1984;Scutt, 1997;Temkin, 2002). One early study conducted in the United States of America, for instance, revealed that the police officers who participated in the research believed approximately three out of every five rape complaints to be either false or mistaken (Feldman- Summers and Palmer, 1980). ...
... Concern has been expressed internationally regarding the high proportions of sexual assault complaints that are believed to be false (Blair, 1985;Chambers and Millar, 1983;Fairstein, 1993;Feldman-Summers and Palmer, 1980;Gilmore and Pittman, 1993;Gregory and Lees, 1999;Jordan, 2004;Kanin, 1994;Kelly, 2002;London Rape Crisis Centre, 1984;Mintz, 1973;National Center for Women and Policing, 2001;O'Reilly, 1984;Scutt, 1997;Temkin, 2002). One early study conducted in the United States of America, for instance, revealed that the police officers who participated in the research believed approximately three out of every five rape complaints to be either false or mistaken (Feldman- Summers and Palmer, 1980). Factors identified as relating to the perceived 'truthfulness' of an allegation were noted: ...
... In this sense, police culture has merely reflected the attitudes of a wider society, which also relies on mythology as the basis for understanding rape and sexual assault. (Nixon, 1992, p. 42) Moreover, knowledge of the prevalence of such beliefs amongst the police can impact detrimentally on complainants (Feldman- Summers and Palmer, 1980;Gilmore and Pittman, 1993). Fearing disbelief and judgment, victims of rape may try to embellish their accounts, or conceal wrongdoing, in order to make themselves appear more 'believable' to the police. ...
Book
Full-text available
The notion that women lie about rape is a prevalent belief with pervasive influence. This book is unique in combining police file data with interviews obtained from both rape survivors and detectives in order to critically explore how this belief affects police officers’ responses to women who report rape. Examination of this material is located within a broader analysis of the historical and socio-cultural environment, and illustrates how rape investigations continue to be conducted within the context of pervasive beliefs and stereotypes regarding both the nature of rape and the nature of women.
... 30) Although advocacy since the early 1970s began the process of legal and social policy reform related to sexual violence, broad public perceptions of sexual violence and the victim-survivors of such violence has not changed to the same extent (Edwards et al., 2011). RMA influences perceptions of sexual assault victim-survivors within the broader public and within police departments, and it continues to reinforce what is considered a "real rape" and a "genuine victim" (Campbell & Johnson, 1997;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Jordan, 2001;LeDoux & Hazelwood, 1985;Page, 2008aPage, , 2008bUllman & Townsend, 2007). Because rape myths are widely held within the general public, they also shape perpetrators' views of victims (Temkin & Krahé, 2008) and victims' views of themselves (Ahrens, 2006). ...
... Within the criminal justice and legal systems, rape myths influence the perceptions of juries (Tetreault, 1989), police officers (Brown & King, 1998;Campbell & Johnson, 1997;Edwards et al., 2011;Feild, 1978;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Galton, 1975;LaFree, 1989;LeDoux & Hazelwood, 1985;Maddox et al., 2011;Page, 2008aPage, , 2008bPage, , 2010Venema, 2016), and prosecutors (Campbell et al., 2001;DuMont & Myhr, 2000;Frazier & Haney, 1996;Frohmann, 1991;Gylys & McNamara, 1996;Lonsway, Archambault, & Lisak, 2009;C. Spohn & Horney, 1993;R. ...
... Although extensive research has focused on the influence of rape myths on prosecutors' charging decisions, an increasing amount of research is now focusing on the role of first responding police officers because most cases are dropped within the criminal justice system before entering the purview of the legal system. Although many studies have examined the acceptance of rape myths among police officers and detectives, findings are somewhat mixed (Brown & King, 1998;Campbell & Johnson, 1997;Edwards et al., 2011;Feild, 1978;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Galton, 1975;Gylys & McNamara, 1996;Jordan, 2001;LaFree, 1989;LeDoux & Hazelwood, 1985;Maddox et al., 2011;Page, 2008aPage, , 2008bPage, , 2010Ullman & Townsend, 2007;Venema, 2016). Some argue that police attitudes toward and responses to sexual assault have not significantly changed or improved over the past 30 years (Jordan, 2001;Rich & Seffrin, 2012;Temkin & Krahé, 2008;). ...
Article
Full-text available
This study examines police officers' perceptions of sexual assault and those who report sexual assault to the police, using a revised version of the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale along with a measure of social desirability bias. The study includes survey responses from 174 officers from 1 mid-sized police department in the Great Lakes region. Results show low to moderate levels of rape myth acceptance scores on the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale, with highest scores related to victim lying. Officers report very high estimates of false reporting, indicating some rape myth acceptance. Officer level of education, rank, and estimates of false reporting influence rape myth acceptance; however, social desirability bias is an important explanatory factor. Implications for measurement and training are discussed.
... For example, studies demonstrate that officers identify and use a wide variety of case factors in determining case legitimacy, many of which are built directly on myths about rape (Venema, 2016b). Such myths also influence officers' perceptions of sexual assault survivors (Campbell & Johnson, 1997;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Ullman & Townsend, 2007), particularly perceived victim credibility (Brownmiller, 1975;Venema, 2016a). For example, victims are expected to be sober (Sims, Noel, & Maisto, 2007), and perpetrators are expected to be unknown to the victim (Felson & Pare, 2008). ...
... This is a crucial line of inquiry, as understanding the extent to which such factors are predictive of RMA in policing populations could provide a critical evidence base for the effective development of training programmes to address such attitudes (Chapleau & Oswald, 2010). Such an aim is particularly important when considering the role officers have in response to the crime, as well as the service that victims will receive (Sleath & Bull, 2012) and the impact of negative attitudes on interactions with victims and case trajectories (Brownmiller, 1975;Campbell & Johnson, 1997;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Rich & Seffrin, 2012;Ullman & Townsend, 2007;Venema, 2016a). The present study therefore examines the predictive relationship between several demographic (officer gender, age, years of service, presence/absence of specialist training) and attitudinal (hostility towards women, ambivalent sexismhostile and benevolent, the relationship between power and sex) variables and rape myth acceptance in a large U.K. police sample. ...
... Importantly, these findings suggest that broader attitudinal constructs explain a far greater proportion of variance in RMA, and may, therefore, represent a more efficient and effective focus for intervention, and in informing the evidence-base on which specialist and non-specialist officer training is built. Specifically, greater knowledge and awareness of attitudinal antecedents is of particular utility in highlighting the broader beliefs that support the role of RMA in informing officers' overall opinions and perception of sexual assault victims (Campbell & Johnson, 1997;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Ullman & Townsend, 2007) as well as their perceived credibility (Brownmiller, 1975;Venema, 2016a). ...
Article
Efforts to understand rape myth acceptance (RMA) as a cognitive framework in police, unifying key cognitive/attitudinal and demographic factors into one coherent model, are lacking. Using a cross-sectional survey design, predictors of RMA were assessed by linear hierarchical regression, including demographic (age, length of service, gender, experience of specialist rape investigation training) and attitudinal factors (hostility towards women, sexist attitudes, and explicit power/sex beliefs) among officers from a large U.K. police force (N = 912). The final model explained 44% of variance in RMA. Gender and previous specialist training significantly predicted RMA, but to a much lesser extent than attitudinal variables, which explain 42% of RMA variance. Only specialist rape investigation training remained significant when attitudinal variables were added. The greater contribution from attitudinal variables suggests that efforts to address RMA in officers must consider the broader attitudinal structures underpinning RMA. Findings highlight implications for evidence-based training for rape investigators.
... The purpose of this research was to assess police officers' attitudes toward rape. Although we have some knowledge of officers' attitudes (e.g., Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Field, 1978;Galton, 1975;Hazelwood & Burgess, 1995;LaFree, 1989), it is dated. We have little knowledge of police officers' current attitudes [3] and are therefore unable to make comparisons with earlier research. ...
... The purpose of this study was to assess police officers' attitudes toward rape since rape law reforms were enacted. The findings of this research concur with most prior research on police officers and attitudes toward rape (Brown & King, 1998;Campbell, 1995;Campbell & Johnson, 1997;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Galton, 1975;Field, 1978;LaFree, 1989). Police officers generally endorsed some rape myths while discounting others and deemed victims with certain characteristics (e.g., a virgin, a professional woman) more credible than others (e.g., a man, a prostitute). ...
Article
Institutionally, significant advancements in rape law reform have occurred. Culturally, police officers sometimes fail to adopt these changes. A survey designed to assess acceptance of rape myths was administered to 891 police officers in two southeastern states. The study found that the majority of police officers view the overall crime of rape as a serious one, however, approximately 6% provided sexist feedback that supports rape myths. These findings indicate that more work is needed in altering the attitudes of police officers.
... This reluctance has been fueled in large part by concerns surrounding experiencing blame, disbelief, and what R. Campbell and colleagues have termed secondary victimization (R. Campbell, Wasco, Ahrens, Sefl, & Barnes, 2001). Indeed, research documents the extent to which municipal police personnel have underestimated a sexual assault victim's credibility (B. A. Campbell, Menaker, & King, 2015;Jordan, 2004;Tasca, Rodriguez, Spohn, & Koss, 2012) based on extralegal factors such as victim dress and sexual reputation (Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Hazelwood & Burgess, 1995;LaFree, 1989;Page, 2007Page, , 2008. These judgements have exacerbated trauma associated with experiencing sexual assault and diminished help-seeking behavior. ...
... In addition, Page (2008) found that police officers were most likely to believe the credibility of a ''virgin'' or a ''professional woman'' who reported rape and were least likely to believe a ''prostitute.'' Other research has demonstrated that police personnel continue to find rape cases unfounded or believe that women are likely to make false reports (e.g., Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Jordan, 2004). Any chance that sexual assault disclosure is met with victimblaming attitudes or a lack of empathy by formal criminal justice system professionals may further harm the victim or negatively influence her willingness to cooperate with law enforcement. ...
Article
Sexual assault prevention and response remains a high priority for U.S. higher education institutions. Indeed, federal legislation and a recent White House task force have reiterated the importance of protecting college students from victimization during their tenure in postsecondary education. Informed by Eisenberg, Lechner, Frerich, Lust, and Garcia’s (2012) content analysis, the current study uses a modified College Resources and Sexual Health (CRaSH) inventory to examine the sta- tus of 74 Uniform Crime Reports–reporting higher education institutions in Texas. Doing so assesses prevention, resources, response, and aftercare for victims of sexual assault. Findings demonstrate a primary reliance on target-hardening strategies, health clinics, and law enforcement responses, often to the neglect of advocacy, crisis intervention, and educational programs. Directions for research are discussed, and best practices in programming implementation to augment existing strategies are suggested.
... As suas consequências são claramente reativas. Quando o comportamento de uma mulher é percebido como uma ameaça à essa ordem hierárquica, o sistema social aciona os seus institucionalizados atores políticos (i.e., o parlamento, o sistema jurídico, a polícia; Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Lila, et al., 2013), e societais (e.g., a igreja, a família, a escola e os pares) que recorrem aos contratos sociais que legitimam a dominação do homem sobre a mulher (e.g., o casamento, uniões de fato, regras subjetivas para a regulação de relações íntimas; Burgess & Borgida, 1999) e das ideologias que sustentam esses contratos (e.g., os papeis de gênero, a maternidade, a fragilidade e astúcia feminina; Glick & Fiske, 2001;Verniers & Vala, 2018) (Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Lila, Gracia & García, 2013). É como diz o adágio popular, muitas vezes "pula-se da paleta fervente para cair no fogo abrasador". ...
... As suas consequências são claramente reativas. Quando o comportamento de uma mulher é percebido como uma ameaça à essa ordem hierárquica, o sistema social aciona os seus institucionalizados atores políticos (i.e., o parlamento, o sistema jurídico, a polícia; Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Lila, et al., 2013), e societais (e.g., a igreja, a família, a escola e os pares) que recorrem aos contratos sociais que legitimam a dominação do homem sobre a mulher (e.g., o casamento, uniões de fato, regras subjetivas para a regulação de relações íntimas; Burgess & Borgida, 1999) e das ideologias que sustentam esses contratos (e.g., os papeis de gênero, a maternidade, a fragilidade e astúcia feminina; Glick & Fiske, 2001;Verniers & Vala, 2018) (Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Lila, Gracia & García, 2013). É como diz o adágio popular, muitas vezes "pula-se da paleta fervente para cair no fogo abrasador". ...
Article
Full-text available
The application of the principles of justice is restricted in romantic relationships, contributing to the acceptance of violence against women. The objective was to analyze whether the perception of university students about the scope of justice will be the element that justifies the acceptance of violence against women. 305 university students participated. The results showed that the most sexist people, who also believe that the world is a fair place, are the ones that restrict the scope of justice application the most, that is, they perceive marriage as being excluded from that scope. Therefore, this study adds important data in studies on the role of the social context in legitimizing social inequalities.
... Studies show that rape myths influence perceptions of sexual assault, including those of law enforcement officials (Campbell & Johnson, 1997;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Jordan, 2001;LeDoux & Hazelwood, 1985;Page, 2008;. In one study, police officers showed stronger endorsement of rape myths than members of other professions and the general public (Lonsway & Fitzgerald, 1994). ...
... Jordan (2008) demonstrated the difficulty that victims of sexual assault, even those considered "ideal" victims, experience in being believed and seen as victims by the police. A few studies have examined police perceptions of sexual assault and found that police often do not perceive non-stranger assaults as rape (Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;LeDoux & Hazelwood, 1985). Kerstetter and Van Winkle's (1990) study suggests that officers' attitudes and beliefs are communicated to the victim and are experienced negatively. ...
Article
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While extensive research has studied sexual assault reporting behaviors and described negative experiences with the criminal justice system among victim-survivors, fewer studies have explored police officer attitudes, knowledge, and thought processes that may affect victims' perceptions of negative interactions and unsatisfactory outcomes within reported sexual assault cases. This study explores police officer understanding of the definition of sexual assault and characteristics that influence their perceptions and response. Ten police officers were interviewed within one police department in a midsized city in the Great Lakes region. The study uses a modified grounded theory approach. Findings suggest that officers employ distinct schema of reported sexual assaults. Case characteristics, perceived credibility of the victim, and types of evidence formed categorizations of false reports, ambiguous cases, and legitimate sexual assaults. Police officers describe the ways in which perceptions of the case may or may not influence the response and point to areas for improvement within police procedure. The study findings provide insight into recommendations for improved police interviewing and response to reported sexual assaults.
... Acceptance of rape myths influences individual perceptions of sexual assault victim-survivors within the broader public and within law enforcement (Campbell & Johnson, 1997;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Jordan, 2001;LeDoux & Hazelwood, 1985;Page, 2008;Venema, 2016). These biases may influence what is considered a "legitimate rape" and who is considered a "credible victim" (Brownmiller, 1975). ...
... Another important and "extralegal" sexual assault case characteristic that influences case processing focuses on the relationship between the victim and the suspect. Studies show that police often do not perceive nonstranger assaults as rape (Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;LeDoux & Hazelwood, 1985). Bieneck and Krahé (2011) found that police attributed more blame to victims when the sexual assault did not involve a stranger. ...
Article
Full-text available
As research continues to describe negative experiences and high case attrition within sexual assault cases reported to the police, it is important to better understand the role of first-responding police officers. This study surveyed a sample of sworn police officers (N = 174) from one department in a midsized city in the Great Lakes region to examine the effect of individual police officer characteristics, rape myth acceptance (RMA), attributions of blame, and case characteristics from a hypothetical vignette, on officer perceptions of a “good” case and behavioral intentions. Results found that although RMA predicts both perceptions of the case and behavioral intentions to respond in ways indicative of perceived seriousness, RMA is mediated by attributions of suspect blame. Victim alcohol use was found to decrease an officer’s likelihood of responding more vigorously, showing less likelihood of calling a detective or arresting the suspect, if identified. Future research should begin to connect not only case characteristics but also individual police officer characteristics, attitudes, and attributions of blame, with real case outcomes, in addition to hypothetical scenarios.
... The few studies that investigate such judgements in police officers suggest that their perceptions of sexual assault may be similarly influenced. For example, studies in the U.S. have found that some officers do not even perceive non-stranger assaults as rape (Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;LeDoux & Hazelwood, 1985). More recent evidence from Venema (2016b) highlighted that, in a sample of 10 U.S. officers, cases involving a prior relationship with the assailant were more likely to be identified as examples of 'false' or 'ambiguous' (as opposed to 'legitimate') cases. ...
Article
Purpose Previous studies suggest that judgments of responsibility and authenticity made towards hypothetical rape cases differ when specific case factors are varied. However, few studies have examined whether police officers exhibit similar variations in judgment. Methods Sixteen vignettes depicting a hypothetical rape scenario were created. Vignettes varied on victim-perpetrator relationship, victim reputation, and initial point of resistance. Police officers from a large police force in the United Kingdom (n = 808) provided judgments of victim and perpetrator responsibility, as well as rape authenticity. Results Officers rated perpetrators as less responsible and gave lower rape authenticity ratings when a partner was the perpetrator, and in ‘late’ resistance scenarios. Officers rated victims as more responsible in ‘bad’ reputation conditions and in ‘late’ resistance conditions. Additional effects of officer sex and receipt of specialist training were also found (i.e., male officers rated the victim as more responsible than female officers), as were several interactions between factors. Conclusions Results suggest that police officers in the UK may judge victims of rape differentially based on extra-legal case factors. The potential impact on the investigation of rape cases is discussed, and a recommendation for thorough and prompt review of specialist and non-specialist training is made.
... The findings here are consistent with prior research (Beichner & Spohn, 2005;Bouffard, 2000;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Frazier & Haney, 1996;Frohmann, 1991;Horney & Spohn, 1996;Kerstetter, 1990;McGregor, Du Mont, & Myhr, 2002;Peterson et al., 2010;Rose & Randall, 1982;Spohn et al., 2001) and suggest that the identification of ways to enhance participation and cooperation may be as or more effective at resolving criminal cases than testing more evidence. Research must begin to document the processes and structures that facilitate greater victim engagement throughout the criminal justice process because it appears to have 18 Criminal Justice Policy Review significant potential for improving criminal justice outcomes in sexual assault cases. ...
Article
Full-text available
Studies and local police jurisdictions have documented the existence of potentially valuable forensic evidence that have never been submitted to a crime laboratory for examination. The failure to analyze evidence is concerning because this may have prohibited case advancement in the criminal justice system. This study examines this possibility by describing investigative activities that occur after forensic screening of evidence that was not submitted for testing at the time of the original investigation. The study examines only sexual assault cases and finds that testing has a minimal impact in this sample.
... The research that does exist suggests that police officers may be skeptical of reports of several types of crime victimization, particularly those crimes by which females are disproportionately victimized, including intimate partner violence and sexual assault (DeJong, Burgess-Proctor, & Elis, 2008;Jordan, 2004). Several factors may contribute to police skepticism of victim credibility, including the following: relationship to the perpetrator, previously consenting to intimacy with the perpetrator, the way the incident was reported, victim use of substances, or perception of victim psychological problems (Estrich, 1987;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Jordan, Reskin, & Visher, 1985;Schuller & Stewart, 2000;Torrey, 1991). An even more limited amount of research assesses how other criminal justice officials, like prosecutors, perceive victims of sexual assault. ...
Article
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Research examining correctional officer perceptions about the sexual victimization of inmates is rare. This research offers a first glimpse of what personal, job-related, and attitudinal factors influence blaming incarcerated sexual assault victims among a sample of 376 jail correctional officers in one state. Surveys are utilized to elicit understanding about officer perceptions of incarcerated victims. Findings indicate that jail correctional officer blaming of incarcerated sexual assault victims is highly correlated with perceptions about rape myths and homosexuality. Specifically, officers who adhere to rape myths and disapprove of homosexuality are more likely to blame incarcerated victims of sexual assault. This study is a first to examine factors correlated with jail correctional officer blaming of incarcerated sexual assault victims. The results are useful in understanding the perspectives of jail correctional officers and experiences of victims incarcerated in jails. Implications for correctional institutions and authorities include attending to the issue of sexual assault in correctional facilities, understanding staff perceptions that are related to this issue, training of staff, and classification of inmates.
... The popular literature, combined with anecdotal evidence from clinical settings, has attracted the attention of researchers who have examined a variety of real life rape-related behaviors such as prevalence of reporting, rape proclivity, trial outcomes and policy decisions and have inferred a relationship between these factors and rape attitudes (e.g., Barber, 1974; Burgess «Sc Holmstrom, 1974; LaFree, Reskin «Sc Visher, 1975; Schwendinger «Sc Schwendinger, 1983). Attitudes toward rape victims have also been implicated in the quality of victim care (LeBourdais, 1976; McGuire «Sc Stern, 1976), the institutional processing of rape cases (Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Galton, 1976; Rose «Sc Randall, 1982), the formulation of rape laws (LeGrand, 1973), the likelihood of criminal conviction (Böhmer, 1974; Burt «Sc Albin, 1981), and the victims' self-perceptions and psychological well-being (Libow «Sc Doty, 1979; Ward <Sc Inserto, 1990). ...
... Given the increased emergence of evidence that supports the disease model of addiction (Volkow et al., 2016) and increased violence by police toward persons who inject drugs (Kutsa et al., 2016), it is important to consider literature that highlights evidence of police assigning blame to and stigmatizing victims of crime (Feldman Summers & Palmer, 1980;Greeson et al., 2016). It has been found that police anticipate that victims of Police Perceptions of Children on Drug-Related Calls | Lesher, Loria, and Poulakis certain crimes will behave in particular ways, which can increase disbelief of victims and victim blaming (Ask, 2010). ...
Article
Although more students are enrolling in college than ever before, far too many fail to complete their degrees. The financial, personal, and societal costs of leaving college can be high. The current study explored the relationship between 2 key psychosocial factors, social support and coping, and 2 measures of psychological well-being; specifically, life satisfaction, and perceptions of the campus environment, both of which have been related to grade point average (GPA) and student retention. Path analysis results indicated that social support (B = .31, p < .001) and life satisfaction (B = .36, p = .005) were positively related to perception of university environment, whereas the use of problematic coping strategies (B = −.42, p = .003) was negatively related to perception of university environment. In addition, higher class year (B = −.11, p = .004) and first-generation student status (B = −.25, p = .013) were negatively related to GPA. These findings suggest that university efforts to help students develop positive social support resources and effective coping strategies have the potential to increase both psychological well-being and academic success.
... Though we must acknowledge the difficulty in assessing confirmed false report rates, the most methodologically rigorous studies of false reports indicate that approximately 5% of sexual assault accusations are false (Lisak et al. 2010, Ferguson andMalouff 2016). Yet police perceive this phenomenon to be much higher (20-53%) (Feldman-Summers and Palmer 1980, Jordan 2004, Belknap 2010, Lisak et al. 2010, McMillan 2018, Ostrander 2018) and consider victim believability and motive to lie in decisions to move cases forward to prosecution (Morabito et al. 2019). When the officer determines the report to be false or unsubstantiated, the case will be cateogorised as 'unfounded' meaning that the reported incident does not constitute criminal sexual assault as defined by state statute. ...
Article
Sexual assault is a highly underreported crime, with only about one-third of victims reporting to the police. There are several reasons why victims are reluctant to report to the police, including fear of not being believed. While research estimates that only 2–8% of sexual assault reports/allegations are false, police officers have been shown to believe that false reporting occurs more frequently than it actually does, which can influence how the case progresses through the legal system. However, little research has explored how detectives come to determine that a report is ‘false’ through individual and structural influences, and how they respond to the constructed lying victim following this determination. The present study uses participant observation and qualitative interviews with detectives in a U.S. suburban police department to examine the institutional frames used when detectives construct sexual assault victims and determine if a case is false. The data indicate that determining if a victim is giving a false report is a complicated process that appears to be influenced by the institutional frames of the department and the individual-level attitudes of the detective including adherence to rape myths. We make recommendations for policing practices to increase the strength of investigations via victim cooperation and provide ideas for further research to build on this study.
... Early research on men policing GBV found that police officers consider rape differently than other crimes, tending to require higher standards of evidence and a more credible victim (Hazelwood & Burgess, 1995). Compared to social service providers, criminal justice personnel were more likely to attribute victimization to women's behavior-that is, to blame the victim-and were only half as likely to believe claims of rape (Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980). More current research shows that criminal justice agents have a preconceived notion of rape that is based on forceful injurious stranger rape and the more that a given case diverges from this antiquated idea, the less credibility, attention, and time it is given (Page, 2007). ...
Article
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Men's relationships to gender‐based violence (GBV) have long been an area of sociological inquiry, but until recently men have primarily been framed as perpetrators of violence against women. More recently, research on men and GBV has broadened to include studying men as victims/survivors, as investigators and law enforcement officers, as passive or active bystanders, and as allies in working to address this social problem. We review this research in an effort to bridge these divergent bodies of work; we identify methodological trends and gaps in existing research, make recommendations for improved theoretical and methodological robustness, and suggest that research perspectives on men and GBV have shifted over time as wider understandings of gender and masculinities become more hopeful and more inclusive. While we see optimism and promise in new directions of GBV research, we urge ongoing research to retain the wisdoms and critical perspectives that marked the beginnings of GBV inquiry.
... In criminal rape cases, it is important that court officials understand that despite commonly-made inferences concerning others' attitudes and intentions based on their dress, those inferences often inaccurately reflect the wearer's intentions and may be biased. It is important for judges, attorneys, and jurors to understand that they are as likely as other individuals (Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980) "to subscribe to societal stereotypes and to make inaccurate inferences from the victim's clothing regarding consent" (Lennon, Lennon, & Johnson, 1993, p. 414). Researchers frequently ask people to make attributions and inferences but do not follow through with testing the accuracy of those judgments. ...
Article
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This is the first of two articles in which we argue that textiles and clothing research has relevance for the legal system in the United States in several different contexts. In this paper we highlight textiles and clothing scholarship and illustrate how that scholarship could be used to inform legal practices or legislative action in the United States regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault. Textiles and clothing researchers have demonstrated that dress conveys both accurate and inaccurate messages about the wearer. However, it is evident from statutes and written judicial decisions (caselaw) that the legal community often assumes that dress accurately indicates the wearer's attitude or intent. Yet in so doing, the legal system may be relying on inaccurate inferences to inform judgments and render decisions. Recommendations are suggested for research and policy linkages between textiles and clothing research and law.
... 759). Indeed, evidence suggests that despite increased awareness about sexual assault victimization, criminal justice professionals including judges and police officers continue to adhere to rape stereotypes (Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Page, 2007;Torrey, 1991). The negative social stigmatization associated with rape victimization underscores the importance of witness preparation prior to preliminary hearings and trials to increase beliefs that the victim is credible among both judges and juries. ...
Article
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Victim-witnesses are largely overlooked in research of witness credibility and preparation. This paper addresses this issue in regard to female victims of sexual assault, as they are at particular risk for negative juror perceptions and attributions of blame. Witness preparation practices and characteristics of effective testimony are briefly reviewed. Strategies to increase rape victim–witness competency, credibility, and well-being while testifying are described. Specific attention is given to the importance of attorney-victim collaboration, witness education, and the role of emotion management. Directions for future research are discussed.
... For example, Field (1978) found that law enforcement officers' attitudes toward rape more resembled those of rapists than those of citizens or rape crisis counselors. Feldman-Summers and Palmer (1980) found that criminal justice personnel believed that a victim's poor judgment caused rape, including one's dress and demeanor. In that sample, law enforcement officers believed that only 36% of rapes reflected "true" rapes. ...
Article
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In a study to assess law enforcement officers' perceptions of rape and rape victims, researchers asked 149 law enforcement officers to respond to surveys which included a definition of rape measure, an unfounded rape claims measure, and the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale-Revised (RMA-R) measure. Although most officers scored low on the RMA-R—indicating that they did not adhere to myths about rape—most officers also responded with incomplete definitions of rape and inaccurate estimates of the number of false rape claims. Multivariate analyses indicated that officers' open-ended responses did not predict their scores on the RMA-R scale. It is argued that the RMA-R alone does not accurately measure officers' understanding of rape. Officers need ongoing training on the legal elements of the crime, the necessity of sensitivity with victims, and research-based statistics on the prevalence of rape.
... Research on sexual assault case attrition suggests that sexual assault is treated differently by the criminal justice system than other violent crimes (Lonsway & Archambault, 2012). This differential treatment in part has been attributed to a prevalence of negative police attitudes toward sexual assault and victims, as well as false beliefs about the crime (Ask, 2010;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Kerstetter, 1990;Mennicke, Anderson, Oehme, & Kennedy, 2014;Venema, 2016). Less attention has been paid to examining the case characteristics that contribute to case attrition and decision making by officers. ...
Article
Sexual assault is a highly underreported crime with even fewer cases proceeding to the point of charges and prosecution, suggesting that sexual assault victims have less opportunity for legal justice than other crime victims. Case attrition may, in part, be due to negative attitudes and rape myth acceptance (RMA) in police decision making. Yet, little attention has been paid to examining the evidentiary and extralegal factors surrounding the case that contribute to police decision making and case outcomes through examination of police case files. This examination is necessary to address the issue of differential processing of sexual assault cases in the criminal justice system. This study uses police data of sexual assault case files from 1999 to 2014 ( N = 23,525) to examine the assault, victim, and detective characteristics that contribute to case outcomes of unfounded, cleared, and exceptionally cleared through arrest and victim refusal to prosecute. Logistic regression models tested 15 years of reported sexual assault data from one large police department and found that elements that correspond with RMA were predictive of unfounded, cleared, and exceptionally cleared case decisions, providing further indication that officers consider evidentiary but also extralegal factors in decision making. Overall, results support previous contentions that sexual assault victims have unequal access to legal justice, particularly victims possessing demographic and assault characteristics that do not align with stereotypical notions of rape. Implications for future research and policing practices are discussed.
... Although this program of research has a lengthy history in both criminal justice and victimology (e.g., Barrett & Hamilton-Giachritsis, 2013;Brown & King, 1998;R. Campbell & Johnson, 1997;Feild, 1978;Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980;Gottesman, 1977;LeDoux & Hazelwood, 1985;Lee et al., 2012;Lonsway et al., 2001;O'Neal, 2019;Page, 2007Page, , 2010Shaw et al., 2017;Sleath & Bull, 2012Venema, 2018Venema, , 2019Wentz & Archbold, 2012), a recent focus on the effects of trauma-informed and survivor-centered criminal justice response to sexual assault has revitalized interest in policing in terms of best practices for suspect apprehension, case processing, survivor cooperation, and well-being (see, for example, U.S. Department of Justice, 2015, for authoritative guidance). One instructive antecedent to case attrition may be rape myth endorsement. ...
Article
The current study used a purposive sample of 517 surveys administered to police officers at one of the five largest and most diverse U.S. cities to assess police adherence to rape myths, while considering demographic, occupational, and neurocognitive predictors. This study also examined rape myth endorsement and self-reported levels of preparedness in responding to sexual assault calls for service. Officer sex and impulsivity were significant predictors of rape myth endorsement. In addition, rape myth endorsement decreased preparedness, whereas prior specialized sexual assault training increased preparedness. Implications for policy, practice, and future research are discussed.
... Perceptions of sexual assault, and beliefs about the women and men victimized by it, are often characterized by rape myths, which are false beliefs that deny and minimize rape and blame victims (Lonsway & Fitzgerald, 1994). Even a survivor's loved ones (Feldman-Summers & Palmer, 1980) might believe these common rape myths, and might wrongly assume that a survivor "consented" to an assault by either not resisting appropriately or by somehow provoking the assaulter (e.g., by wearing revealing clothing; Williams, 1984). Furthermore, survivors might also have to prevail over what Campbell and Raja (2005) referred to as "secondary victimization." ...
Article
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This study explored college students’ perceptions regarding barriers to disclosure of sexual assault and helpfulness of campus resources for survivors of sexual assault. To better understand barriers and social reactions to disclosure of sexual assault, it is important to examine peer perceptions of barriers and resources for assault survivors. A total of 475 undergraduate students estimated the frequency with which various barriers prevent sexual assault disclosure and rated the helpfulness of several campus resources for both male and female survivors. Students perceived that barriers to disclosure were more likely to prevent men than women from telling someone they were assaulted and seeking help. Students also believed that campus resources are more helpful for female than male survivors. Students’ negative perceptions of disclosure and help seeking for male survivors indicate that more education regarding the sexual assault of males and inclusive outreach is needed.
Article
The purpose of our study was to identify factors underlying rape survivors' post-assault prosecution decisions by testing a decision model that included the complex relations between the multiple social ecological systems within which rape survivors are embedded. We coded 440 police rape cases for characteristics of the assault and characteristics of the rape survivor congruent with rape mythology. In addition, support from friends/family members, social service providers, and police were assessed. Path analysis, using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) that included a bias-corrected bootstrap resampling procedure, supported our model. As hypothesized, rape survivors' final decisions to aid in case prosecution were predicted by support from the three social ecologies: family/friends, social service providers, and police. Social service provider support, in turn, was predicted by assault characteristics congruent with rape mythology, whereas family/friend and police support were significantly predicted by the interaction between assault and survivor characteristics congruent with rape mythology. Our results show the value of applying a socioecological framework to help understand factors that influence rape survivors' prosecution decisions. Moreover, our results highlight the need to challenge commonly held views of “typical” rape survivors and the “typical” circumstances surrounding their assault.
Article
Canadian sentencing commissions have recommended that mental illness be considered as a mitigating factor in sentencing. With respect to sexual assault, some feminist literature asserts that over-reliance on psychiatric factors not only absolves the offender, but also serves to reinforce the myth that “normal” men do not rape women and children. In this study, data were collected on 97 Canada-wide sexual assault sentencing decisions from 15 August 1992 through 15 August 1993. This research does not find support for the hypothesis that sexual offenders are typically characterized as suffering from a mental disorder. Furthermore, using multiple regression, an interaction between judicial perception of the severity of the crime and judicial mention of psychiatric factors is found. The data show that psychiatric factors interact with perceptions of force, actually leading to harsher sentences. The impact of this variable turns out to be the opposite of what the literature would expect one to find: judicial perceptions of mental disorder act as aggravating factors in the sentencing of sexual assault offenders when a judge also believes that force has been used in the commission of the offence. The results of this research are then interpreted within the context of labelling theory.
Article
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A common perception is that police officers hold very negative attitudes about rape victims. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to establish whether police officers do accept stereotypical rape myths at a higher level compared to members of other populations. There were 3 comparison samples, composed of police officers, law students, and psychology students, that completed the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance scale. Male and female police officers accepted “she lied” myths at a higher level than the student samples. Student samples were found to accept 2 types of rape myths (“she asked for it” and “he didn't meant to”) at a higher level compared to police officers. No significant differences were found in the other 4 subfactors. Therefore, the pattern of results suggests that police officers do not adhere to stereotypical myths about rape victims more than do other populations.
Article
In this article, we observe that barriers to the disclosure and reporting of sexual assault reside within families. We draw on qualitative survey data, as well as interviews with adult victims of childhood sexual assault, to show how women are impeded by family members when attempting to disclose or report sexual assault. Taylor and Putt (2007) identified three 'family constraints on [sexual violence] reporting' for women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds in Australia. These were: 1) Family denial that sexual violence exists, 2) Reluctance to report a partner perpetrator, and 3) Fear of being ostracised for bringing shame upon the family (p. 4). We examine whether similar barriers to reporting exist for adult female survivors of childhood sexual assault who are from non-CALD backgrounds. On the basis of our findings, we urge greater police and public recognition of, and sensitivity to barriers extant within non-CALD families that contribute to the under-reporting of sexual assault by women in Australia.
Conference Paper
Law enforcement perceptions of sexual assault has generated research interest, however the specific beliefs of university police officers has generally been overlooked. This is problematic since research has consistently shown that sexual assault and rape-supportive attitudes are extremely prevalent on college campuses. This paper will address this gap in the literature by examining how different types of training programs influence campus law enforcement officers’ perceptions of sexual assault. This will be done by analyzing original data that evaluates university police officers’ acceptance of rape myths and their perceptions of sexual assault case processing. It is believed that focusing police training efforts on specific types of programs would be beneficial towards decreasing the possible impact of officer rape myth acceptance on case processing and secondary victimization.
Article
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Anger and disgust may have distinct roles in sexual morality; here, we tested hypotheses regarding the distinct foci, appraisals, and motivations of anger and disgust within the context of sexual offenses. We conducted four experiments in which we manipulated whether mutual consent (Studies 1-3) or desire (Study 4) was present or absent within a counter-normative sexual act. We found that anger is focused on the injustice of non-consensual sexual acts, and the transgressor of the injustice (Studies 1 and 3). Furthermore, the sexual nature of the act was not critical for the elicitation of anger-as anger also responded to unjust acts of violence (Study 3). By contrast, we hypothesised and found that disgust is focused on whether or not a person voluntarily engaged in, desired or consented to a counter-normative sexual act (Studies 2-4). Appraisals of abnormality and degradation were the primary appraisals of disgust, and the sexual nature of the act was a critical elicitor of disgust (Study 3). A final study ruled out victimisation as the mechanism of the effect of consent on disgust and indicated that the consenter's sexual desire was the mechanism (Study 4). Our results reveal that anger and disgust have differential roles in consent-related sexual offenses due to the distinct appraisals and foci of these emotions.
Article
Police are considered “gatekeepers” of the criminal-legal system because their decisions significantly impact case outcomes. Using rape culture as our theoretical framework, we examine rape culture-specific factors that influence police arrest decisions in sexual assault cases reported to Los Angeles police. Importantly, extant research using this approach has overwhelmingly focused on indicators of “genuine victims,” and few studies have assessed rape culture-specific indicators of suspect culpability in sexual assault case processing. The present study addresses this gap. Findings indicate that arrest decisions are motivated by rape culture-specific indicators of suspect culpability and “real rape.” Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Article
False rape allegations are a serious concern. However, the role of false rape allegations on wrongful convictions is relatively unknown. Here, we examine the impact of false rape allegations on cases outcomes involving factually innocent defendants. The Preventing Wrongful Convictions Project compared “near misses,” cases where charges against factually innocent defendants were dismissed following indictment, to wrongful convictions. Using a subsample of 207 sexual assault cases, we employed bivariate and multivariate analysis to better understand the impact of false rape allegations on case outcome. False rape allegations accounted for 4% of wrongful convictions in the sample and 45.6% of near misses. False allegations were more common among cases involving white and better-educated defendants. The presence of a false rape allegation contributed to a 10 times greater likelihood of a case ending in a near miss than a wrongful conviction.
Article
In Canada, it is estimated that only about 5 percent of sexual assaults are reported to police and fewer than 1 percent of assaults result in convictions. The reasons for this are discussed in this commentary using results from a formal model in economic theory. In the model, if police overestimate the probability that women’s reports of assault are false, as the evidence clearly documents, they under-investigate. This in turn reduces the reporting of actual assaults and reduces the conviction rate. The attrition rate of active files (as women drop out as a result of the challenges within and outside the system) may further reinforce the incentive effects of police disbelief. These effects are compounded by the fact that, in common law, the Crown prosecutor represents not the victim but rather the society at large. Policy recommendations that stem from the model include an emphasis on victim advocates, who can increase police belief and hence spur police efforts and reduce attrition rates, leading to more reports and convictions and fewer assaults. In considering punishments for false reports, it is argued that due consideration must also be given to the effect such a punishment may have in reducing truthful reports and hence in increasing the number of assaults.
Article
Police interviewers find the investigation of sexual crimes ‘technically difficult’ and ‘stressful’ to conduct by having to make sense of very powerful and painful emotions. In addition, such interviews often contain inappropriate as opposed to appropriate questions and interviewers often find it difficult to be ‘attentive’ to the specific needs of victims. Through the analysis of interviews with adult rape victims (N = 25) in England, we wanted to establish whether the ‘quantity’ and ‘quality’ of investigation relevant information (IRI) obtained would be impacted as a function of different question typologies (e.g. appropriate versus inappropriate), and overall interviewer attentiveness. We hypothesised that: (i) more inappropriate questions would be asked compared to appropriate questions; (ii) responses to appropriate questions would contain more items of IRI than responses to inappropriate questions; (iii) attentive interviews would contain more appropriate questions than non-attentive interviews, and; (iv) attentive interviews would contain more IRI than non-attentive interviews. Results found that interviewers asked significantly more appropriate questions that elicited significantly more items of IRI. However, there were no significant differences in the number of appropriate questions asked or the impact on the amount of IRI obtained between interviews as a function of interviewer attentiveness. Implications for practice are discussed.
Article
This research examined how the legal, medical, and mental health systems respond to the needs of rape victims. A national random sample of rape victim advocates (N = 168) participated in a phone interview that assessed the resources available to victims in their communities. as well as the specific experiences of the most recent rape victim with which they had completed work. Results from hierarchical and iterative cluster analysis revealed three patterns in victims' experiences with the legal, medical, and mental health systems. One group of victims had relatively positive experiences with all three systems, a second group had beneficial outcomes with only the medical systems, and the final group had difficult encounters with all three systems. Multinominal logistic regression was then used to evaluate an ecological model predicting cluster membership. Community‐level factors as well as features of the assault and characteristics of the victims predicted unique variance in victims' outcomes with the legal, medical, and mental health systems. These findings provide empirical support for a basic tenet of ecological theory: environmental structures and practices influence individual outcomes. Implications for ecological theory and interventions to improve the community response to rape victims' needs are discussed.
Article
Justice for sex crimes is particularly complex due to the differences between victim needs and the operations of the criminal justice system. This study, using 70 semi-structured interviews and 2 focus groups from Canadian police departments, shows that Canadian police officers use characteristics from both procedural and distributive concepts of justice when responding and dealing with victims of sex crimes. We show that building trust, inclusion in the process, and upholding individual treatment needs are compelling components of police response that garner victim agency and satisfaction. As a result, victims are more satisfied with the process and outcomes of their cases, and through reconstructing success, so are police officers. Our discussion of a pluralistic approach captures how police officers justify and negotiate distributive and procedural justice in their responses to sex crime victims. Unlike research that focuses on the adverse treatment of victims, this paper finds promising changes in Canadian police officers’ conceptualization of justice for victims.
Thesis
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The majority of research on victim decision making has focused narrowly on reporting to police neglecting other ways in which victims seek help after a victimization experience. Similarly, this research also focuses on only one crime at a time, typically sexual assault, or focuses broadly on categories of violent crime. This dissertation aims to explore variations in victim help-seeking by examining and comparing various combinations of formal disclosure. Moreover, this study compares two distinctly different yet comparable interpersonal violent crimes: sexual assault and robbery. In so doing, this study employs the Theory of the Behavior of Law to examine whether social structure predicts the decision to formally disclose across these two crimes. Using National Crime Victimization Survey data from 1996-2015 (n=3,095), logistic regression is employed to explore formal disclosure, police reporting, and exclusive victim agency usage among female sexual assault and robbery victimizations. The results found little theoretical support; however, results consistently indicated that crime type was strongly related to all strategies of disclosure. These findings suggest that the Theory of the Behavior of Law does not explain victim decision making. Theoretical and practical implications as well as avenues for future research are discussed.
Article
This study examines the predictors of sexual assault case clearance, with a focus on arrest and two types of exceptional clearance: victim refusal to cooperate and prosecutorial declination to prosecute. Using National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data on crime incidents that contain a sexual offense (N = 21,977), we estimated a multinomial regression model to examine the predictors of different clearance types for cases of sexual assault. Results indicated that the likelihood of victim refusal decreases in cases perpetrated by strangers, involving victim injury, occurring in public, and involving multiple offenses. A similar pattern of findings was observed for the decision to decline to prosecute a case. In addition, prosecutors are more likely to decline to prosecute cases with male victims and older victims. We discuss the implications of our findings and directions for future research.
Article
Victim blaming attitudes are prevalent within the criminal justice system where survivor behavior before, during, and following an assault is heavily scrutinized. Although dispositional characteristics (e.g., strength of one's justice motive) and characteristics of the assault (e.g., the type of relationship between a survivor and an offender) have been found to predict the degree of victim blaming, the effects of these variables on sexual assault myth endorsement are unclear. In addition, a variable that has not been examined in past literature is the degree of contact maintained between a survivor and offender after the assault. The purpose of the current study was to examine the extent to which the justice motive (strong vs. weak), the relationship between a fictional survivor and an offender (strangers vs. intimate partners), and contact between a survivor and offender postassault (contact vs. no contact) influenced endorsement of sexual assault myths. Undergraduate students read a vignette depicting a fictional sexual assault that varied with respect to the relationship and the amount of postassault contact between the survivor and offender and completed measures of the strength of their justice motive and their endorsement of sexual assault myths. Results indicated that participants ( N = 419) who held a strong justice motive showed higher endorsement of sexual assault myths. Participants were also more likely to endorse sexual assault myths when there was postoffense contact between the survivor and offender. The implications of these findings and their relevance to the criminal justice system are discussed, including the need for further research into the creation of survivor-oriented education and training capable of counteracting bias toward survivors of sexual violence and producing sustained attitudinal changes.
Article
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This study explores factors that influence professionals' belief on child victim's disclosure of sexual abuse. This study was conducted on 18 professionals who worked with child sexual abuse (CSA) cases included counsellors, medical social workers, social workers and police officers. Findings indicate that factors such as victim's age, trauma symptoms, delay disclosures, signs of abuse and corroborate information from others (e.g. family members, schoolmates, friends, teachers) were all influenced professionals beliefs on victim's disclosure. The results also indicate the presence of CSA myths were evident among professionals. This suggests the importance of disseminating accurate information. As such, incorrect beliefs may influence professionals' perceptions and responses to victims' disclosure.
Article
Research has long highlighted the importance of complainant credibility in influencing sexual assault (SA) case outcomes. Despite these findings, few studies have investigated the police decision to question a complainant’s credibility. This study uses data on SAs reported to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 2008 to address this issue, specifically focusing on the effects of rape culture. Results suggest that indicators of “real rape” and measures of complainant “character flaws” influence the likelihood that an officer will question a complainant’s credibility. Notably, all indicators measuring officer perceptions of complainant “character flaws”—whether reputation issues were present, the complainant suffered from mental health issues, her testimony was inconsistent, and if the officer believed she had a motive to lie—increased the likelihood that the police would question her credibility. Practical implications, theoretical advancements, and directions for future research are discussed.
Article
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Police officers are frequently perceived to hold negative attitudes about rape victims. The aim of this systematic review is to: (1) synthesise the current literature on police officers' attributions of rape victim blame, assessments of rape victim credibility, and rape myth acceptance; and, (2) examine the evidence that holding these attitudes impacts on police investigative decision making in rape cases. Twenty-four articles published between 2000 and 2016 were included following a systematic search of the available literature. The findings highlight that some police officers do hold problematic attitudes about rape victims e.g., blame, rape myth acceptance, although they are frequently noted to be at a low level. Furthermore, characteristics of the victim, e.g., alcohol intoxication and emotional expression, can affect attributions of victim credibility. Assessments of victim credibility were related to police investigative decision making e.g., recommendations to charge the perpetrator, perceptions of guilt. However, the impact of rape victim blaming and rape myth acceptance is less clear. Given that the literature was predominantly vignette-based, it is unclear how these judgements have an impact in real rape investigations.
Article
Despite public outrage over our global ?rape culture,? sexual offences continue to be characterised by low levels of reporting, prosecution, and conviction in many countries. Attrition rates for sexual assault internationally, although varying in pattern, are consistently high. As a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (DEVAW), the Indian Government acknowledges the need to afford better protection to victims of gender violence. Assessing the effect of rape law reform in India, using crime statistics and a survey of recent judgments from the Delhi District Courts, the author argues that the legislature has failed systematically to address the many injustices experienced by women who allege rape. The Indian Parliament responding to the moral panic generated by the Delhi gang rape case with knee-jerk reforms, focused mainly on increasing penalties, maintaining an outmoded view of rape as a crime against morality rather than as a violation of gender rights and human rights. By closely investigating the sociocultural context in which sexual crimes against women occur in India, the author reveals that India?s ?cultural? arguments for rejecting further reform (such as repeal of the marital rape immunity) are merely entrenched gender biases, bearing strong parallels to nineteenth century English common law perceptions of women who allege rape as a class of false complainants.
Article
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The most effective way in eliminating a problem is first to put it forward with all aspects. Along with other factors, the negative approach of the related professions such as police, attorneys and judges stemming from their false beliefs is an important cause in low reporting ratios of sexual assaults. Educational programs where the real information is gathered seems to be the most important place to prevent the biased and unobjective approaches. The aim of the study is to evaluate the effects of sexual assault training program on the professional approach to sexual assault events. Thirty graduate students having different professional backgrounds such as judges, attorneys, police and psychologists, who took the “sexual crimes” course given by the author for 28 hours in 14 weeks voluntarily participated in the study. The observed differences in the consideration of the matter before and after the education are defined to be positive. As a consequence, post graduate sexual assault training programs received by the related professions will have positive impact on objective approach to sexual assault cases. Key words: Sexual assault, date rape, false believes, education.
Article
Accounting for Rape presents an original perspective on the subject of rape, focusing on both female and male sexual violence. The authors investigate everyday beliefs about rape, to examine how blaming the victim and the normalization of rape are achieved by people in a discussion about sexual violence. They synthesize discursive psychology and a feminist standpoint to explore precisely how rape and rape victimhood are defined in ways that reflect the social, political and cultural conditions of society. By analysing conversational data, Anderson and Doherty suggest that the existing social psychological experimental research into rape and rape perception fails to analyse the subtlety and political significance of rape supportive reasoning. Accounting for Rape provides a critical interrogation of the dominant theories and methodologies, focusing on: How the gender and sexual orientation of alleged victims and perpetrators is crucial to social participants when making sense of a rape report and in apportioning blame and sympathy. How arguments that are critical of alleged victims are built in ways that are 'face saving' for the participants in the conversations, and how victim-blaming arguments are presented as 'common sense'. The potential of applying this approach in both professional and academic contexts to promote attitude change. The book will be of great interest to those studying social and clinical psychology, cultural studies, sociology, women's studies and communication studies.
Article
The current study examined attitudes about inmate-on-inmate sexual assault among a sample of correctional officers. The study uniquely surveyed a jail sample of correctional officers, a context that has been ignored in the research on correctional officer perceptions of sexual victimization. The study measured officer attitudes toward victim blaming, credibility of inmates who report sexual assault, definitions of sexual assault, and willingness to respond to assault incidents. Additionally, the study examined gender differences in attitudes toward victimization and attitudes toward varying types of inmates. Overall, correctional officers assigned varying levels of blame and credibility to inmates who report sexual assault. Male and female officers also had significantly different attitudes about victim blaming and credibility of inmates. In addition, the sample held diverse views of what constitutes sexual assault and their preferred responses to the issue of sexual victimization. Implications for correctional policy, training, and avenues for continued research are discussed.
Article
An experiment was conducted to ascertain the manner in which male and female subjects perceive the victim and the defendant involved in criminal assault. Characteristics of the victim, type of crime committed, and sex of the subject were systematically varied. The experiment, therefore, took the form of a 5 (Married Woman/Single, Virgin/Single, Nonvirgin/Divorced Woman/Prostitute) X 3 (Rape/ Attempted Rape/Physical Assault) X 2 (Male Subjects/Female Subjects) factorial design. The findings indicate that as the respectability of the victim decreases, her perceived responsibility for the rape increases. Furthermore, as the victim's respectability declines, the perceived impact of the crime on the victim decreases. In addition, significant sex differences (female > males) emerged in conjunction with the length of jail sentence recommended for the defendant, perceived psychological impact of the crime on the victim, the seriousness of the crime, and the perceived guilt of the defendant. The results are interpreted within a balance theory framework, and the implications of the research for legal procedures are discussed.
Article
An exploratory examination of the social perception of a rape victim was conducted. Sex of respondent, victim's history of rape, number of rapes in the area, and victim acquaintance with the rapist were investigated by having subjects respond to a standardized videotape of an interview with a presumed victim. Results revealed two consistent findings: Males viewed the victim as contributing to the rape to a greater degree than females. The victim was seen as provoking the episode to a greater degree when she had been raped before than when she had not been raped before. Several interactions were also obtained.
Article
• As the title suggests, this book examines the psychology of interpersonal relations. In the context of this book, the term "interpersonal relations" denotes relations between a few, usually between two, people. How one person thinks and feels about another person, how he perceives him and what he does to him, what he expects him to do or think, how he reacts to the actions of the other--these are some of the phenomena that will be treated. Our concern will be with "surface" matters, the events that occur in everyday life on a conscious level, rather than with the unconscious processes studied by psychoanalysis in "depth" psychology. These intuitively understood and "obvious" human relations can, as we shall see, be just as challenging and psychologically significant as the deeper and stranger phenomena. The discussion will center on the person as the basic unit to be investigated. That is to say, the two-person group and its properties as a superindividual unit will not be the focus of attention. Of course, in dealing with the person as a member of a dyad, he cannot be described as a lone subject in an impersonal environment, but must be represented as standing in relation to and interacting with another person. The chapter topics included in this book include: Perceiving the Other Person; The Other Person as Perceiver; The Naive Analysis of Action; Desire and Pleasure; Environmental Effects; Sentiment; Ought and Value; Request and Command; Benefit and Harm; and Reaction to the Lot of the Other Person. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved) • As the title suggests, this book examines the psychology of interpersonal relations. In the context of this book, the term "interpersonal relations" denotes relations between a few, usually between two, people. How one person thinks and feels about another person, how he perceives him and what he does to him, what he expects him to do or think, how he reacts to the actions of the other--these are some of the phenomena that will be treated. Our concern will be with "surface" matters, the events that occur in everyday life on a conscious level, rather than with the unconscious processes studied by psychoanalysis in "depth" psychology. These intuitively understood and "obvious" human relations can, as we shall see, be just as challenging and psychologically significant as the deeper and stranger phenomena. The discussion will center on the person as the basic unit to be investigated. That is to say, the two-person group and its properties as a superindividual unit will not be the focus of attention. Of course, in dealing with the person as a member of a dyad, he cannot be described as a lone subject in an impersonal environment, but must be represented as standing in relation to and interacting with another person. The chapter topics included in this book include: Perceiving the Other Person; The Other Person as Perceiver; The Naive Analysis of Action; Desire and Pleasure; Environmental Effects; Sentiment; Ought and Value; Request and Command; Benefit and Harm; and Reaction to the Lot of the Other Person. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This study was designed to (a) examine the dimensionality of rape attitudes; (b) explore the relationships between perceptions of rape and background characteristics of rapists, police, female rape crisis counselors, and citizens; and (c) determine how these groups might differ with regard to rape attitudes. Data were collected from 1,448 Ss from the aforementioned groups using measures of Ss' attitudes toward and knowledge of rape, the Attitudes Toward Women Scale, and a personal data form. Results show that the groups were similar in their structures of rape attitudes. As predicted, sex, race, and marital status were the most important characteristics for predicting rape attitudes; within the respondent groups, however, other characteristics were found to be important. Significant differences were also found among the groups in their perceptions of rape. The counselors differed from the police, citizens, and rapists in their views of rape, while citizens and police were most similar. No differences were found between the police and rapists on half of the attitudinal dimensions. Implications of the results are discussed in terms of attitudes toward rape. (82 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This study was designed to assess the extent to which social role and “just world” considerations would affect perceptions and attributions of responsibility to a rape victim. The rape victim was either a topless-bottomless dancer, a social worker, or a Catholic nun, and she was either acquainted or unacquainted with her assailant. In the acquainted condition, the dancer was attributed the greatest and the nun the least amount of responsibility, indicating that social role factors can govern the range of attributional judgments which might be made in any given instance. However, unacquainted victims were ascribed more responsibility for the rape than were acquainted victims, a difference which was significant when the victim was the nun. The latter findings are discussed in terms of Lerner's just world hypothesis. Significant sex differences were found in subjects' perceptions of and responses to the rape incident and, contrary to earlier findings, no relationship was found between victim attractiveness and punitiveness toward the wrongdoer.
Article
Tested the hypothesis that a socially respectable person is seen as more at fault in a crime in which he was the victim. This hypothesis was based on 2 assumptions: (a) individuals believe in a just world where people deserve what they get and (b) the more respectable the victim the greater the need to attribute fault to his actions since it is more difficult to attribute fault to his character. It was also hypothesized that a defendant who has injured a more respectable person is sentenced more severely. Results with 234 male and female undergraduates support the predictions. The victim of a rape case was faulted more if she were married or a virgin (most respectable) than if she were a divorcee. Also, Ss sentenced the defendant to a longer imprisonment for the rape of a married woman than for the rape of a divorcee. No sex differences were found in the attribution of fault or the assignment of sentences.
Article
Under the guise of an experiment on the perception of emotional cues, 72 undergraduate female Ss observed a peer (victim) participating in a paired-associate learning task. The victim, as a result of making the usual errors, appeared to receive severe and painful electric shocks (negative reinforcement). In describing the suffering victim after these observations, Ss rejected and devalued her when they believed that they would continue to see her suffer in a 2nd session, and when they were powerless to alter the victim's fate. Rejection and devaluation were strongest when the victim was viewed as suffering for the sake of Ss ("martyr" condition). These results offer support for the hypothesis that rejection and devaluation of a suffering victim are primarily based on the O's need to believe in a just world.
Judicial attitudes toward rape victims
  • C Bohmer
Bohmer, C. Judicial attitudes toward rape victims. Judicature, 1974, 57, 303-307.
Sexual assault: Confronting rape in America
  • N Gager
  • C Schurr
Gager, N. and Schurr, C. Sexual assault: Confronting rape in America. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1976.
The prosecutor-initiation of prosecution Battelle Law and Justice Study Center Forcible rape: A national survey of the response by police Battelle Law and Justice Study Center. Forcible rape: A national survey of the responses by prosecutors
  • N Baker
Baker, N. The prosecutor-initiation of prosecution. Journal of Criminal Law and Crimi-nology, 1933, 23, 770-796. Battelle Law and Justice Study Center. Forcible rape: A national survey of the response by police, 1975a, Police Volume 1, 1-98. Battelle Law and Justice Study Center. Forcible rape: A national survey of the responses by prosecutors', 1975b, Prosecutors' Volume 1, 1-78.
Forcible rape: A national survey of the responses by prosecutors
  • Battelle Law
  • Justice Study
  • Center