Justice for abuse survivors: Giving victims their voice

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Happy New Year to all!

At the beginning of each new year, I like to take time to think about what we can be doing to bring about more justice to those who have suffered from the ravages of sexual abuse.  However, thinking alone is not enough.  If our our thoughts don’t move us to action, we really haven’t helped and justice remains elusive for so many.  Attorney and victim advocate, Neil Jaffee, is someone who has spent his life moving thoughts into actions.  Actions that have made a real difference in the life of so many abuse survivors.  In this fantastic guest post, Neil describes and advocates for a a set of specialized practices that will revolutionize our approach to the handling of child sexual abuse cases in the criminal justice system.  As a former child sexual abuse prosecutor, I can tell you that these proposed practices have a real possibility of delivering genuine justice and real hope to those who deserve it most.  My prayer is this post will challenge each of us to help Neil in move these thoughts into action across the country.   – Boz

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Cases involving adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are unique at their core because they involve survivors who were victimized as children but enter the legal system as adults. This fundamental aspect of adult survivor cases drives the need for specialized protocols and policies to address the particular dynamics of these cases.

The legal system must apply a specialized, trauma-informed approach to the investigation, prosecution, and disposition of adult survivor cases.

 1.  Trauma-informed systemic practices are essential

Childhood sexual abuse is recognized as a form of complex psychological trauma in that it typically involves repetitive, ongoing abuse, a fundamental betrayal of trust in a primary relationship, perpetrated by someone known by or related to the victim. The timing of the abuse events during a critical period of development during childhood has adverse long-term psychological and behavioral effects on the victims. Due to developmental impairments in cognitive functioning and language production related to the occurrence of the abuse events during childhood, some adult survivors may not be able initially to remember clearly and recount to investigators the details of the abuse events and recovered memories are often fragmented, incomplete, and nonspecific. The legal process itself can be re-traumatizing for survivors. Accordingly, the development of a trauma-informed approach is essential to support survivors in filing their legal claims, preparing them for the challenges posed by the justice system, and presenting their cases effectively in court.

  • Specialized Practice: Forensic interviewers of adult survivors need to be trained in the neurobiology of traumatic memory. First responders and all subsequent interviewers of adult survivors should understand that suffering sexual abuse at an early developmental stage affects a survivor’s memory and ability to translate childhood memories into adult language that is coherent, complete, and chronological. Prosecutors should develop the skills to place recovered abuse memories in their proper context so as to explain delays, omissions, and/or inconsistencies in a survivor’s statements. Experts are often necessary to educate jurors (and judges) as to the correlation between childhood sexual abuse and traumatic amnesia. There must be a victim-centered approach at all stages that proceeds from the presumption that the survivor is credible unless the evidence proves otherwise.

2.  Adult survivor “cold cases” require particularized investigations

In contrast to acute child sex abuse cases and adult sexual assault cases, adult survivor cases involve events that occurred years or even decades before the crimes were reported to authorities. Therefore, the investigation of these “cold cases” often depends on the ability to reconstruct past events accurately.

  • Specialized Practice: A thorough investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the abuse events should be conducted by police investigators and prosecutors who have received special training on the legal, psychosocial, and scientific aspects of investigating and litigating adult survivor cases. Contrary to the oft-heard defense contention that adult survivor prosecutions are typically “s/he said, s/he said” cases, there is always some evidence to corroborate a survivor’s report of abuse. That evidence may consist of documents or other tangible evidence that establish a connection between the survivor and the perpetrator, evidence of the perpetrator’s grooming behavior, witness accounts of interactions between the survivor and the abuser, or evidence that the perpetrator also abused other children.

 3.  Discretion must be exercised properly when reviewing a case

The exercise of broad discretion by police and prosecutors plays a significant role in determining whether an adult survivor’s case moves through the various stages of the justice system or is derailed during the case screening process. The law enforcement decision to make an arrest and refer a survivor case for prosecution is almost entirely subject to the discretion of the assigned officers and detectives. Among the factors prosecutors consider in their screening decisions, the probability of conviction is typically the determinative factor.

Scales of Justice - courtesy of Michael Coghlan via Flickr

Scales of Justice – courtesy of Michael Coghlan via Flickr

  •  Specialized Practice: All cases in which probable cause exists for arrest should be referred for prosecution and prosecutors should file charges where the evidence is legally sufficient to support a conviction. In other words, all cases that are legally supportable should be referred for prosecution and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. While survivor cases typically present investigative and evidentiary challenges that do not exist in other sexual assault cases, properly trained investigators and prosecutors will recognize that the particular types of evidence in survivor cases can constitute strong corroboration of the survivor’s testimony. Police and prosecution supervisors should routinely evaluate investigations, referral/no-referral decisions, and charging/no charging decisions to ensure that they are being conducted fairly, professionally, and with an eye toward achieving justice for adult survivors who seek to hold their perpetrators accountable under the law.

4.  The accessibility of reliable data and comprehensive assessments of police and prosecution performance

By all accounts, ineffective and unresponsive police and prosecution practices contribute to an unacceptable level of survivor case attrition. Official data on rates of arrest, prosecution, and conviction in survivor cases does not appear to exist or, if such information is in the possession of law enforcement agencies or prosecutor offices, it is not accessible to the public. Nor is information available to establish that police are conducting thorough investigations and prosecutors are striving to build strong cases against perpetrators.

  • Specialized Practice: Police departments and prosecutors’ officers should be required to compile and maintain public-accessible data on rates of arrests, referrals, prosecutions, and convictions in adult survivor cases. In addition, law enforcement and prosecution agencies should issue periodic public reports identifying specific performance measures in survivor cases and the internal practices and procedures employed consistent with such measures.

Implementing the specialized practices discussed here will reflect an enlightened systemic understanding of the important ways in which adult survivors differ from other sexual assault victims and will incentivize survivors to break their silence and hold their perpetrators accountable under the law. In turn, transforming the legal process into one that gives victims the voice to which they are entitled and that no longer favors abusers over those abused will result in better case outcomes, thereby protecting children by taking more child predators off the street and by deterring other potential perpetrators from committing such crimes. Then, and only then, will justice for adult survivors be achieved, finally.

Neil Jaffee is legal counsel for a foundation that advocates on behalf of the legal rights of adult survivors of child sex abuse and lobbies for legal reforms that support survivors who seek to hold their perpetrators accountable in the justice system. He is a member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association and the National Alliance of Victims’ Rights Attorneys.

  • Tom

    So, Neil, how does a medieval on junk-science (recovered memories) promote the cause of justice? How does a legal environment tilted in favor of the person bringing the complaint bring balance to our judicial process? This isn’t enlightenment. Quite the opposite; it increases suspicion and distrust making it more difficult for abuse survivors to be heard.

  • Bob

    I think the use of the term “amnesia” is unfortunate, because I’ve never heard of a child abuse case to which this term could properly be applied. A better way of putting it would be to say that a child who is not sexually knowledgeable cannot label an experience as “sexual”. And it can be very difficult for the child, when he or she later becomes sexually knowledgeable, to post-label an experience as “sexual”, particularly if he or she consented to it (albeit in ignorance) at the time.

  • Tom

    Isn’t there a rule of logic about going with the simpler explanation? This is much simpler.That, and the fact that most shrinks have issues with idea of disassociative amnesia anyway.

  • Just me

    This article is very meaningful to me, especially right now. I was the victim of childhood sexual abuse and a sexual assault as a young adult.
    As a child, I had no understanding of what was happening, only crippling fear and shame. I learned to dissociate very early in life and that was my only protection. I have not ever reported my childhood offenders and likely will not ever do so for various reasons.
    I did, however, report being raped as a young adult. My experience with the justice system would NOT lead me to attempt to do so again. My case was considered by many to be a case that would be very easy to prosecute. The offender has confessed (to Christian leaders) multiple times to my exact accusations. However, I live in a religious area where the prevailing belief seems to be that if any offender is caught and admits their offense, they can apologize and should be then forgiven by the victim.

  • Just me

    I have often wondered what it would take for respected religious people to be prosecuted and convicted in the area where I live. I am convinced that the “church” is what stands in the way of this happening. It is very common, in this area, for a religious offender who is caught, to apologize. The victim is then expected to forgive and not speak of the offense again. A victim who files legal charges against a religious leader is generally ostracized.
    Solicitors are elected leaders. How can they possibly prosecute when their jobs are on the line should the prosecute in a case that would make society turn against them? In Greenville Co., SC, I believe that the churches hold the key to future change. If the churches and other religious institutions were to band together and actively become involved in supporting the legal system, I believe that prosecutors would then have the support they need to prosecute.

  • Just me

    It is ironic to me when people speak of the injustices against women in other societies, particularly in the radical Islamic groups where woman are not always protected. At times, those who voice the loudest complaints about this need to look at their own practices before they point fingers. While it may look very different, many religious people in this area are tightly protected and defended by the religious system. There is still the prevailing belief that a woman who is sexually assaulted MUST have done something to deserve it. It is also widely believed that victims MUST forgive offenders who apologize and cannot speak up about the offense.
    I strongly believe that the solicitors would prosecute if only their jobs weren’t on the line. The religious community can change this.

  • Just me

    What would happen if all over this county (Greenville Co., SC), every religious institution – school, church, mission, radio station, etc. were to sign their signatures in support of solicitors arresting and prosecuting even if it means that “one of their own” is charged and found guilty? Wouldn’t offenders stop seeing religious institutions as their safe place to hide out? Wouldn’t solicitors then be free to prosecute without fear of losing their jobs? What if religious groups actually ASSISTED by providing information that could be potentially used to prosecute offenders?
    I hope for this change in this community, and also hope that it be duplicated all across the country! Religious organizations should NOT be seen as havens for predators!!

  • Tom

    For anyone with a sense of compassion, reforming the legal process on behalf of alleged victims is a natural emotion. This week, Newsweek has provided a sobering reason to resist that urge in a story titled, “CATHOLIC GUILT? THE LYING, SCHEMING ALTAR BOY BEHIND A LURID RAPE CASE.” In this instance, the “victims” are 3 priests and a teacher who were no-doubt on some level, falsely accused. At the heart of this tragedy is a prosecutors apparently unlimited discretion, not a lack of it – the author of the piece calls it “proprietorial lust.”

  • Just me

    I read the article you mentioned and the things mentioned are disturbing. I’m sure there is likely much more to this specific story. Personally, I would not discount that the guy was sexually abused as a child. At the same time, it would be difficult to convict someone with the discrepancies.
    I am not discounting that it is possible that those he accused are innocent, however, a victim statements, at times, could be affected by the fear, confusion, panic, shame, etc. especially if the person questioning the victim has not had the proper training to do so WELL.
    Going through with a legal report as a victim is hell.

  • Just me

    I think if you re-read the article, you will see that there is no pursuit of “junk science” involved. There is a desire for highly trained professionals to work with victims to help ensure that anything reported is truthful and accurate and that the victim is not further damaged throughout the process.
    This does NOT tilt the judicial process towards the victims’ favor. It simply provides more professional and highly trained experts to help navigate.
    You say that this would result in “increased suspicion and distrust making it more difficult for survivors to be heard.” I don’t think that is even possible. We are NOT heard. Even when the offender FULLY admits his crime, in detail, to many people in various states and through time, justice is NOT even remotely on the side of the victim.

  • Tom

    JM, I wouldn’t ever discount the value of having “highly trained professionals,” but any prosecutor pursuing recovered memories is engaged in junk science. Despite what we see on NCIS, forensic science is often the abandoned step-child of the scientific community. Several of Neil’s initial points about trauma-informed practices betray a stubborn insistence on poorly supported beliefs about things like childhood memory. Unfortunately, this is an all-to-common situation among prosecutors and police investigators who are otherwise highly trained professionals.

  • Tom

    JM, Your reaction here is a teachable moment. It demonstrates how difficult it is for someone accused of abuse to roll back the clock and return to a normal life without suspicion. Even after Newsweek has undermined all of Billy Doe’s credibility, you “can’t discount that the guy was sexually abused.” I don’t really hold that against you. I’m in the same boat. Who knows? You can’t disprove a negative. But that is why our legal system requires evidence.

  • Just Me

    I don’t see the problematic statements that you seem to see. I see a passion for the protection of children and the recommendations to have highly trained professionals working in these areas.
    From my own observations, when a child and/or adult is questioned by someone who is well trained, the person doing the questioning is INCREDIBLY careful not to “plant” memories or jump to conclusions.
    Young children don’t have the terminology to describe things as an adult would, however, they CAN give an accurate description. Years ago, I was present when a girl with severe developmental disabilities was being questioned by a professional. She did NOT have any of the correct wording, however, if I wrote down the words she stated, it would be too horrible and graphic to remain posted. There was NO question at all about what had happened. In her case, the abuser was not prosecuted b/c of the victims limited ability to communicate clearly with professional wording. 🙁

  • Tom

    JM, I think yours is a common mis-understanding. Neil isn’t talking about children; he’s talking about adults who say they were abused as children. It is important to be clear about age. Legal problems with recovered memories occur primarily among adults. Your example about interviewing children is a bit of a d different issue.

    Here’s what I see as the problem statement: “Prosecutors should develop the skills to place recovered abuse memories in their proper context so as to explain delays, omissions, and/or inconsistencies in a survivor’s statements.” The only valid “context” for a recovered memory in a legal environment is independent corroborating evidence. That is the official opinion of medical establishments in the USA, Canada, England, and Australia dating back to the mid 90’s.

  • JM

    I was likely not clear enough in my response, but I do understand that this also refers to adults who were sexually abused as children. I am one of those people.
    If you had asked me in high school or during very early adult years if I had been sexually abused as a child, I would have very firmly told you “NO.” The moment the question would have been presented to me, I would have felt overwhelming panic and I strong desire to push back against memories. It isn’t that I didn’t have the memories. I just continually forced them back.
    For me, there would have been various factors involved in my response. I didn’t want the past to be real and felt that if I never spoke of it, I could somehow escape it. I also would have been unable to understand that it was abuse. I fully believed that it was simply a form of God punishing me. I also believed I would go to hell if anyone ever found out and EVEN if I ever thought about them as God could see my thoughts.

  • Janet Varin

    A pedophile (Sitler) successfully argues for his victims to be protected from the knowledge of what he did to them. From moscowiddotnet, comments 1/23/16:

    Team Sitler has argued for the right of victims’ parents to not tell their children (the victims) that Sitler molested them, and they’re doing this alongside a request to allow Sitler to reestablish contact with those victims. Judge Stegner approved.

    So to be clear, Sitler has begun reestablishing contact with at least four of his victims, and the parents of these victims have not told these now-grown-up children what he did to them.

    Stegner gave his ruling at an “off-the-record proceeding” where Probation & Parole was not present to object. Apparently Stegner relied on Sitler’s psychotherapists, who argued that telling the children the truth could harm them emotionally.

  • Tom

    Interesting. Three of my comments have been deleted here. Were they really that abrasive? Does RNS have a problem w opposing viewpoints? Let me reiterate – Point 1: I don’t see how Neil’s apparent promotion of junk science (recovered memory therapies) will help to establish justice. RMT is a discredited forensic. I’m suggesting that Neil is not being honest about his underlying agenda. Point 2: Be skeptical of prosecutors who want more power. Neil proposes a system that favors the accuser. Does that serve the cause of justice? Again, there’s an underlying assumption is that people don’t lie about sexual abuse. What planet is he living on?

  • Jane

    I believe if you speak with enough abuse survivors, you will see that amnesia does, in fact, occur. Of course children do not understand the acts perpetuated against them are sexual. However, time and time again, child victims are not able to remember all or even some of the abuse until later in life. The brain sometimes guards the person from remembering such traumatic events. This occurs to victims of other sorts of trauma: accidents, battles, and seeing something traumatizing. Victims will often not remember the events of a car accident, an injury, or a horrific event. It’s trauma induced amnesia.

  • Tom

    Traumatic amnesia is questionable, and the scenario about children recalling past abuse is just too open-ended. I think JM’s description below is an example of how abuse becomes an issue later in life. But her description does not involve amnesia.

    The problem/w the amnesia interpretation is that there’s no known psycho-physiological process that would account for it. Read Clancy’s “The Trauma Myth” for specifics, or McNally’s tome “Remembering Trauma.” The idea that the brain “guards” or protects the victim from remembering and only later divulges specifics is a fairly common belief, but it’s a myth. It doesn’t happen to people in accidents, etc. They may go into shock or sustain a brain injury, but if they don’t have the memory, it won’t be there to recall.

  • Jane

    This is obviously a very controversial topic. A lot of people have written about, argued about, and offered opinions about repressed memories/disassociation/amnesia. There are plenty of articles, psychologists, and psychiatrists who believe that memories can be pushed to the back of a person’s brain due to shock (this is obviously in layman’s terms). Whether or not these are “repressed memories” or a disassociation in order to preserve the mind not able to accept or handle the traumatic events, doesn’t really matter for the survivor, does it? Isn’t it a matter of words?
    McNally’s words are extremely harmful to child sexual abuse survivors, “…sexual abuse is an atrocious, despicable crime. Just because it rarely physically or psychologically damages the child does not mean it is OK.” RARELY physically or psychologically damages the child? Is she out of her mind? Get a group of adult survivors of childhood abuse in a room, and they can tell her exactly how the abuse has damaged them.

  • Jane

    “Dissociative amnesia occurs in 2-7% of the general population and has a high occurrence in those involved in wars, in patients with a history of child abuse or sexual abuse, in survivors of concentration camps, in victims of torture, and in survivors of natural disasters. Studies have shown that the extent of trauma is correlated with the development of amnesia (J.D. Bremner, J.H. Krystal, D.S. Charney, and S.M. Southwick).” The American Journal of Psychiatry is full of articles and case studies of dissociative amnesia amongst trauma survivors.

  • Bob

    Disassociation of memories in cases of trauma is certainly a genuine phenomenon. What happens, when a person experiences a traumatic event, is that the brain flips into a mode where it records what happens in exquisite detail (sort of like the memory equivalent of IMAX 3-D). And because the memories that immediately preceded the trauma were not recorded in that mode, it can be difficult for the victim to recognize, later, that those memories are actually of the same event.

    And, of course, victims can engage in denial about what happened simply because there are aspects of the situation that they find too unpleasant to admit, even to themselves. In cases of consensual abuse, the victim may regard the perpetrator as a friend, and it can be heartbreaking for them to admit to themselves that their friend played upon their sexual ignorance to lure them into sexual acts and then manipulated them into blaming themselves for what happened.

  • Jane

    Thank you, Bob. This is all too true.

  • Tom

    It isn’t just semantics. It’s science. Who believes what about recovered memories was actually quantified in 2013 by L Patihis et al. 2013, Are the “Memory Wars” Over. It isn’t a slam-dunk, but most researchers discount RM. The number is a lot lower for practitioners, but has been steadily dropping. Since the Bremmer article (1996 – 20 yrs ago), the neurotransmitter theory has not held up. What has been shown is that during stress, adrenaline and cortisol work to stimulate memory recall, not diminish it.

    BTW, McNally is a man… I’m not sure where the quote came from, however, it is certainly true that abuse does not equal trauma, particularly for young children who do not understand what happened to them. A therapist who does not understand this dynamic could traumatize their now-older client during counseling. We aren’t talking about a support-group for survivors here. Context is important. Again, read Clancy’s “The Trauma Myth.”

  • Tom

    Thx for replacing the comments.

  • Tom

    Very helpful, Bob.

  • Jane

    I apologize. The quotation I posted was Clancy’s. I put in the wrong name. Perhaps THIS is a matter of semantics, but the word “rarely” seems pretty ridiculous. Sexual abuse often results in physical damage to a child, because of anatomy. Whether or not the child was upset or remembers it as traumatizing does not diminish the damage incurred. Knowledgeable therapists will not seek to place false memories or prompt a patient to recall something that never occurred.

  • JM

    I need to respond to this, especially since you referred to my experience. It is incredibly difficult to put my experiences into words and I am still not able to process much of what I grew up with. The things that a couple of you are dismissing are things I personally experienced. I DID dissociate during abuse and I DID block out memories.
    It is too hard and too personal to describe how I “know” some things without being able to precisely articulate the exact order and sequence of everything that happened. I want to try to offer an example, but I still crash pretty easily when I try to describe things that happened when I was young.

  • JM

    I have been trying to type out two examples, but I just can’t. I’m sorry. I wish I could give a clear picture of what this can look like, but when I try to do so, I am “there” again and feel the same terror. I just can’t. I guess that all I can say is that there are specific reasons to know that the memories are of things that happened, but I still fight against actively remembering them.
    Even now, when those memories are triggered, I still dissociate and will have no recall of the previous few hours. Others will tell me how I acted during those hours and the description is pretty much always the same, but I have no memory of it.
    I don’t think I can explain any more than this. Perhaps someone else can, but I feel absolute panic just in sending this much so I need to be out of the discussion.

  • Jane

    JM, I’m so sorry for what was done to you. I know that sometimes adult survivors of child sex abuse do not have access to all of the memories of their trauma. Memories are at times accessed after a triggering event: returning to the place of abuse, seeing pictures, hearing sounds, experiencing smells or looking at certain items. Some survivors access these memories when their own children are the age they were when abused. They may also have always had fragments of the memories, but will have a full, detailed memory of an event suddenly appear. They may have always known that “so and so” was dangerous or that a certain place made them feel ill, but it can take time – months or years – until the brain is ready to process what happened. There are survivors who have entire time periods as a blank. They disassociated, and perhaps they are still in denial of what happened. We often don’t want to go back and view things that hurt really badly.

  • JM

    Thank you. I want so much to reply and explain to those who don’t understand and I am just not able to do so. I truly understand the confusion of those who want to be cautious to believe what is true. I also want that. It’s just that I have actually experienced dissociating and the loss of memory of parts of events. The older I got, the less dissociating worked to perfectly protect me, but it still protects me, at times, when the memories or flashbacks are too much. To admit to dissociating is humiliating (for me), but I can’t pretend it isn’t real.
    I can understand the skepticism if someone has had a “normal” childhood, then suddenly has “memories” that don’t fit their real experiences. At the same time, I know how easy it is to live through traumatic experiences and learn how to block it out.

  • Tom

    JM – Fascinating & troubling at the same time. Let me suggest that it would be wise for you to disengage from this thread. Your story is undoubtedly real to you, but my responses may cause more stress than is healthy for you. That said, this is a public forum that calls for open discussion.

  • JM

    Tom,
    “Fascinating & troubling at the same time. Let me suggest that it would be wise for you to disengage from this thread. Your story is undoubtedly real to you, but my responses may cause more stress than is healthy for you.”
    Let me be clear. You opinion and perception of my life is not accurate. I don’t live in a pretend reality, but don’t need to prove that to you. My experiences have a good bit of evidence and even confessions by the abusers. Truth exists outside of our perceptions and doesn’t change whether believed or disbelieved. I can block out thinking about something, but can’t make it not true. You can dismiss me and it doesn’t change the truth. The truth always stands firm. It is not shaken by your opinion or by my fears. There are many reasons why you may feel the way you do. I am not going to try to guess, but know that you are cared for (and forgiven) by others even when you are completely wrong. I pray that God will give you wisdom and compassion.

  • Tom

    People commonly misunderstand Clancy. They hear the word “abuse” and automatically think “rape.” The official definition of sexual abuse, with it’s broad, inclusive categories ranging from verbal harassment to violent penetration, can lead to this misunderstandings. But Clancy’s right. To insist that abuse results in trauma is to stigmatize those who haven’t responded that way and suggest that they are somehow abnormal.

    Your description of trauma memory does a great job of capturing repressed memory ideology. But let’s be clear; a counselor who suggests such things to a client like JM, who does not have clear memories of abuse, could be engaging in malpractice. In the absence of corroborating evidence, medical associations suggest that skepticism is warranted. Better to redirect to more productive coping strategies than developing a dubious survivor identity.

  • Neil

    Contrary to your contentions, the neurobiology of trauma is hardly “junk science.” The American Psychiatric Association defines “dissociative amnesia” as “[a]n inability to recall important autobiographical information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature, that is inconsistent with ordinary forgetting.” See DIAGNOSTIC AND STATISTICAL MANUAL OF MENTAL DISORDERS, Section 300.12 (Fifth Ed. 2012). Moreover, a number of your comments appear to be based upon the flawed premise that many adult survivors fabricate their abuse reports. However, studies have shown that only 4%-8% of reports are untrue and most of the false reports are made by adults involved in custody disputes. Finally, my call for specialized practices in survivor cases is to even the playing field, rather than to provide survivors with an unfair advantage in the legal process. Presently, the scales of justice are weighed heavily against survivors. That needs to change.

  • JM

    Thank you, Neil! Am incredibly thankful for your original article and for your response above. An “even playing field” seems almost like an impossible dream, but would be amazing should it ever come to pass.
    I am just one of probably thousands, but in my case, an offender completely admitted his crime to MANY, but is being protected from prosecution. There seems to be a bit of a wall of religious groups that surround offenders with protection. That doesn’t seem to exist for victims.

  • Tom

    Thx Neil for your reply. Helps us stay on track… “Junk science” here refers specifically to repressed/recovered memories, not neurobiology, although many over-interpret those results. Also, most researchers are skeptical of traumatic or traumatic or dissociative amnesia, even if it appears in the DSM. (That’s a story in itself – See The Book of Woe). There’s many ways to forget that more easily explain TA/DA – lack of encoding, psychogenic, organic, childhood amnesia, or just plain non-disclosure. There is zero evidence of TA/DA – even in neurobiology. That’s why it’s junk science. We can quibble about the rate of false reports. But in a legal environment, that shouldn’t matter, should it? How would we feel if juries were told to assume a 92% chance the defendant was guilty? Would that sort of taint the presumption of innocence? Your proposal hasn’t convinced me “survivors” are at a disadvantage. But your mention of RM sets off alarms bells.

  • Valerie

    Tom
    What are your credentials and what makes you an expert on anything legal or medical other than your interpretations of books and articles?

  • Tom

    I have no expertise that is not also available to you if you’re willing to read. But you need to keep in mind, this is a field that was lobotomizing people 60 years ago. Repressed/recovered memory falls into that category, according to Richard McNally – who is a recognized expert.

  • Valerie

    Ok you clarified your point. You offer your opinion of your interpretation of self selected books and articles. You need to continue reading to bring yourself up to date and recognize this is not 60 years ago. Also, Richard McNally is an expert on anxiety disorders and has written some articles on childhood sexual abuse, but he is not a leading “expert” in CSA.

  • Tom

    Thank you, Valerie. I’ll remember your advice. So, while where on the topic, what are your credentials?