This paper examines whether the psychological sequelae of rape relate to rape case attrition by leading police to see the
victim as less reliable. A mixed methods approach with two linked studies, one qualitative and one quantitative, was used.
In Study 1, the qualitative study, interviews with 12 specialist police officers were analysed using Framework Analysis. In
Study 2, the quantitative study, 76 specialist officers completed an online questionnaire to assess the generalisability of
Study 1’s findings. In Study 1, officers’ perceptions of victims clustered into three stereotypes, which we label “the real
victim”, “the mad discloser”, and “the bad discloser”. Victims who exhibited signs of shame, self-blame, and post-traumatic
stress reactions which impeded their ability to give a coherent account of the rape were perceived as less reliable “mad”
or “bad” victims. The findings of Study 2 supported these results. Although police interview strategies have improved in recent
years, there is evidence that signs of trauma and shame in the victim are sometimes misinterpreted as signs of lying. This
may affect attrition by impacting on victim-officer relationships. Further training on recognising trauma and understanding
its consequences is recommended both for specialist officers and front-line staff.