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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 192590 Find in a Library
Title: When the Victim Can't Remember
Journal: Sexual Assault Report  Volume:5  Issue:2  Dated:November/December 2001  Pages:21-23
Author(s): Ann Wolbert Burgess; Kathleen Brown; Ashley Paine; Denise Viscuso
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 3
Type: Instructional Material
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper reports preliminary pilot data on 17 sexual assault victims unable to report assault details and identifies issues for the domains of practice, research, and policy.
Abstract: The majority of the women in the subsample of 17 were white (n=8), with four Black and four Hispanic women, along with one case with no ethnicity reported. Most victims (10) came to the Emergency Department on the day of their assault; 5 came the second day, and 2 came after 2 days. The 17 cases were unique for three reasons: the victims' statements were fragmented and minimally detailed; police investigation for additional evidence did not continue; and police believed that the alcohol or drugs negatively affected the victim's memory and could reflect on her credibility and intimate inconsistencies in trial testimony. Sexual assault examiners must have current knowledge of substances used to facilitate sexual assault, as well as the demeanor and behavior of victims under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In such cases, victims typically do not remember anything, but may have flashes of sensory memory of someone lying on top of them, although without clarity of detail. This paper suggests a sensory based interview in which the victim is asked what she remembers seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or feeling. A drug screen may help to determine whether the offender gave the victim some substance. The sexual assault exam can then be conducted, followed by a reinterviewing of the victim. Some of the substance given to the victim by the offender may have worn off, and the victim may recover some memory of the details of the assault. Some case examples are provided, and the paper discusses post-trauma symptoms even without memory. 4 references
Main Term(s): Sexual assault victims
Index Term(s): Eyewitness memory; Personal interviews; Police interviewing training; Rape investigation training; Rape investigations; Witness credibility
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