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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 153777 Find in a Library
Title: Crime Victims and Psychological Injuries
Journal: Trial  Volume:31  Issue:2  Dated:(February 1995)  Pages:56-58,60,62,64
Author(s): B G Baldinger; D T Nelson
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 6
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Civil suits for psychological trauma resulting from a criminal act recognize the victim's fear, pain, and emotional distress as compensable claims; these suits can both compensate the victim and aid the healing process.
Abstract: Traditional legal principles are being reinterpreted to help crime victims who are not recognized parties in the prosecution of criminal offenders. Because restitution often falls short of just compensation for expenses related to medical procedures, rehabilitation, counseling, and lost wages, civil litigation can be used to obtain justice. Civil suits recognize the victim's fear, emotional distress, and psychological injuries as legitimate, compensable claims. The most prevalent classification of psychological injury in crime victim cases is posttraumatic stress disorder. Testimony about rape trauma syndrome is generally admissible in civil cases to help a jury evaluate the rape survivor's actions after the crime. Victims with battered woman syndrome usually have experienced a pattern of traumatic abuse rather than a single violent event. Other commonly seen psychological diagnoses crime victims are somatization, borderline personality, and multiple personality disorders. Newly defined psychological syndromes that crime victims may experience include parental alienation, lying child, confusional arousal, and child sexual abuse accommodation syndromes. The degree of psychological harm experienced by a crime victim is most strongly related to the character of the traumatic event. Significant damage awards for psychological trauma are based on several key elements: aggravating conditions of the defendant's actions, insensitivity of defense counsel, clear testimony on causation from the plaintiff's expert, and lay witnesses who credibly establish the victim's deteriorated condition. The presentation of victim damages at trial is discussed. 23 notes
Main Term(s): Victims of violent crime
Index Term(s): Abused women; Battered woman syndrome; Civil proceedings; Civil remedies; Emotional disorders; Female victims; Lawsuits; Mental disorders; Post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD); Psychological victimization effects; Rape trauma syndrome; Sexual assault victims
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