Beyond Belief

First a rape victim, then a liar

When a sexual assault victim reports a rape, there are many factors which can count against them in court. Why did they show no emotion, or even laugh? Why can't they recall specific details? How can they be believed if they can't even form a concrete timeline of events? Often, these signs cast doubt on the legitimacy of the reports—but now, neurobiology research has formed a more complete picture of how trauma operates, and the research is being disseminated to help the first responders—police officers—understand the reactions. “That’s simply because their brain has encoded it in this fragmented way,” says David Lisak, a clinical psychologist and forensic consultant. Two-week trainings are being offered to law enforcement to ensure all claims are taken seriously—often the line between an arrest and conviction.

Read it at Slate

June 21, 2013 4:30 PM