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Article
Publication date: 14 December 2020

Melissa S. Morabito, April Pattavina and Linda M. Williams

Police officers are exposed to a wide variety of stressors – frequently interacting with people at their worst moments and sometimes absorbing the trauma that victims…

Abstract

Purpose

Police officers are exposed to a wide variety of stressors – frequently interacting with people at their worst moments and sometimes absorbing the trauma that victims experience themselves. Investigating sexual assaults reported by adults presents significant challenges given the often high levels of distress experienced by victims paired with the likelihood that no arrest will be made and the low conviction rates. Little research explores the impact this investigatory work has on the detectives who are assigned to these cases.

Design/methodology/approach

Using interviews conducted with 42 sexual assault detectives across six jurisdictions designed to understand sexual assault case attrition, the study enhances understanding of the effects of investigating crimes of sexual violence on detectives. Specifically, the aurhors explore their experiences within the context of burnout and secondary traumatic stress.

Findings

The current study clearly identifies the incidence of emotional symptoms among sexual assault investigators. During the course of interviews about their decision-making, detectives, unprompted by researchers, manifested symptoms of trauma resulting from their assigned caseloads.

Research limitations/implications

Open-ended interviews offer a promising approach to exploring foundational questions.

Practical implications

Exposure to victims who have suffered the trauma of sexual assault can have a subsequent impact on the job performance and personal life of those who respond to victims in immediate crisis and to those who provide long-term assistance. A plan for future research is detailed to better pinpoint how and when these symptoms arise and interventions that may address their effects.

Originality/value

While there is a large literature detailing vicarious trauma for social workers, nurses and doctors, the topic is generally understudied among police officers and specifically detectives despite their repeated contacts with adult victims of violent crimes. This research builds upon the knowledge of burnout experienced by child maltreatment detectives to enhance understanding of sexual assault detectives.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 44 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 9 July 2021

James Markey, Thomas Scott, Crystal Daye and Kevin J. Strom

Sexual assault investigations present uniquely challenging circumstances to detectives, and a small proportion result in arrest. Improving sexual assault investigations…

Abstract

Purpose

Sexual assault investigations present uniquely challenging circumstances to detectives, and a small proportion result in arrest. Improving sexual assault investigations requires expanding the evidence base to improve our understanding of how these investigations unfold and the factors associated with positive case outcomes, including the likelihood that an offender is arrested.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors abstracted data on 491 adult sexual assaults investigated by five large and midsized law enforcement agencies to describe the characteristics of sexual assault investigations and to explain the relationships between these characteristics and the likelihood that a suspect is arrested.

Findings

Overall, detectives move swiftly to investigate sexual assaults but tend to miss investigative opportunities that increase the likelihood of an arrest, like locating and processing the crime scene or pursuing interviews with key witnesses and leads. Sexual assaults typically lack physical evidence that can be used to identify and lead to an arrest of a suspected offender; when this evidence is present, the case is more likely to result in an arrest. Delayed reporting of the crime to law enforcement decreases the likelihood of a suspect being arrested, but the mechanisms are unclear.

Originality/value

Few studies have used a detailed data abstraction process for a large sample of cases from multiple law enforcement agencies to understand sexual assault investigations and their case outcomes. The results can improve practitioners' and researchers' understanding of sexual assault investigations, including those factors that increase the likelihood of a suspect's arrest.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 44 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2019

Samantha Balemba and Eric Beauregard

Victim resistance has been shown to have an important impact on the outcome of sexual assaults. Thus, the factors that affect a victim’s likelihood of various levels of…

Abstract

Purpose

Victim resistance has been shown to have an important impact on the outcome of sexual assaults. Thus, the factors that affect a victim’s likelihood of various levels of resistance are relevant to consider, given the possibly detrimental effect these actions can have on crime outcome. While not intended to blame the victim in any way, it is important to examine the role the victim plays within a sexually coercive interchange in order to completely understand the sex crime event and, thus, be able to inform potential victims as to the patterns that increase resistance and, potentially, overall violence. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

Sequential logistic regression analyses were conducted on a sample of 613 sex offenses (incorporating both adult and child victims) to examine the individual and combined effects of offender lifestyle, disinhibitors, victim vulnerability, situational impediments and offender modus operandi on victim resistance levels.

Findings

Results suggest that indicators of offender mindset are significant, particularly the use of pornography prior to the crime, and affect victim interpretation and response to the offender’s actions during the course of the assault. Other relevant factors include the victim’s age and the degree of violence present in the offender’s approach and subsequent offending strategies.

Originality/value

This information would be helpful to incorporate into victim education programs so that past and future potential victims can better understand the criminal event and the causes and effects of their own actions within that event.

Details

Journal of Criminal Psychology, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2009-3829

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Book part
Publication date: 4 June 2021

Walter S. DeKeseredy, Danielle M. Stoneberg and Gabrielle L. Lory

Polyvictimization means looking at multiple victimizations of different kinds that one person has experienced. Virtually, all of the work in this field focuses on the…

Abstract

Polyvictimization means looking at multiple victimizations of different kinds that one person has experienced. Virtually, all of the work in this field focuses on the effects of childhood trauma and victimization on currently distressed children, and empirical and theoretical work on the intertwining of adult female offline and online abuse experiences is in short supply. Recently, however, some scholars are starting to fill these research gaps by generating data showing that technology-facilitated violence and abuse are part and parcel of women's polyvictimization experiences at institutions of higher education. This chapter provides an in-depth review of the extant social scientific literature on the role technology-facilitated violence and abuse plays in the polyvictimization of female college/university students. In addition to proposing new ways of knowing, we suggest progressive policies and practices aimed at preventing polyvictimization on the college campus.

Details

The Emerald International Handbook of Technology-Facilitated Violence and Abuse
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-849-2

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Book part
Publication date: 2 July 2020

Walter S. DeKeseredy

The key purpose of this chapter is to identify some ways of enhancing feminist conceptual, empirical, and theoretical work on violence against women. Much attention is…

Abstract

The key purpose of this chapter is to identify some ways of enhancing feminist conceptual, empirical, and theoretical work on violence against women. Much attention is given to addressing the harms caused by new electronic forms of woman abuse, including the role of adult Internet pornography and sex robots. This chapter also emphasises the importance of revisiting some major feminist contributions from the past.

Details

The Emerald Handbook of Feminism, Criminology and Social Change
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-956-4

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Article
Publication date: 28 September 2017

Cristina L. Reitz-Krueger, Sadie J. Mummert and Sara M. Troupe

While awareness of sexual assaults on college campuses has increased, the majority of efforts to address it are focused on female victims. The relative neglect of male…

Abstract

Purpose

While awareness of sexual assaults on college campuses has increased, the majority of efforts to address it are focused on female victims. The relative neglect of male victims may be due in part to problematic rape myths that suggest men cannot be sexually assaulted, especially by women. The purpose of this paper is to compare rates of different types of sexual assault between male and female undergraduates, and explore the relationship between acceptance of traditional rape myths focused on female victims, and rape myths surrounding male victims.

Design/methodology/approach

Students at a mid-sized university in Pennsylvania (n=526) answered an online questionnaire about their own experiences of sexual assault since coming to college, as well as their endorsement of male and female rape myths.

Findings

While women experienced more sexual assault overall, men were just as likely to have experienced rape (i.e. forced penetration) or attempted rape. Acceptance of male and female rape myths was significantly correlated and men were more likely than women to endorse both. Participants were also more likely to endorse female than male rape myths.

Research limitations/implications

By analyzing sexual assaults in terms of distinct behaviors instead of one composite score, the authors can get a more nuanced picture of how men and women experience assault.

Practical implications

Campus-based efforts to address sexual assault need to be aware that male students also experience assault and that myths surrounding men as victims may impede their ability to access services.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to our knowledge of a relatively understudied topic: undergraduate male victims of sexual assault.

Details

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1759-6599

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Article
Publication date: 24 September 2018

Michael Rowe and Michael Macauley

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate a long-term programme within a police service that sought to transform the policing of adult sexual assault cases through…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate a long-term programme within a police service that sought to transform the policing of adult sexual assault cases through reforming case management and investigation practices, as well as cultural perspectives among staff.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is based on a case-study approach of change and reform within a single police service. Fieldwork consisted of more than 240 semi-structured interviews and focus groups with police officers, civilian staff, victim advocates, crown prosecutors, defence lawyers, doctors and staff from victim specialist support agencies. Extensive documentary analysis supplemented the primary findings.

Findings

Changes to investigations of sexual assault were perceived to be wide-ranging and deeply embedded, and were regarded positively by police officers, staff and external agencies. These are identified in terms of improvements to initial reporting of offences, the development of more rigorous case management and investigations, and enhanced relations with external support agencies.

Research limitations/implications

The study is necessarily limited to one case study and the analysis would be usefully developed through further application to other police services.

Social implications

The findings have considerable implications for police leaders and managers and wider society. Victim support and recovery agencies benefit from the reforms outlined, and there are considerable consequences for wider criminal justice that continues to disadvantage victims.

Originality/value

The paper has considerable originality since it offers a “deep” and “thick” understanding of reform within a particular context. The programme of reform was highly unusual since it was designed and delivered over a ten-year period and addressed many aspects of police organisation.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 42 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 8 February 2016

Hannah Fawcett and Lalita Shrestha

– The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of blogging (writing online weblogs) in facilitating healing following sexual assault.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of blogging (writing online weblogs) in facilitating healing following sexual assault.

Design/methodology/approach

To explore how blog writing may facilitate healing and recovery, 30 blog posts written by survivors of sexual assault were analysed using thematic analysis.

Findings

The analysis revealed three themes: the aftermath of abuse, the need for support and helping others. In accordance with past research, bloggers frequently did not receive the supportive reaction to a face-to-face disclosure that they desired. Instead, blogging provided a safe environment in which victims could deal with the ongoing challenge of coping with, and recovering from the abuse. Moreover, blogging enabled victims to use their negative experience to educate and support others going through a similar experience, therefore allowing the bloggers to achieve some positive growth.

Practical implications

The results suggest that blogging and reading blogs may be beneficial to victims of sexual assault. Therefore, the findings support the recommendation of blogging by professionals working with victims of sexual assault.

Originality/value

The study presents the first analysis of blogs written by victims of sexual assault to facilitate their healing.

Details

Journal of Forensic Practice, vol. 18 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-8794

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Article
Publication date: 21 February 2020

Sara Willott, Wendy Badger and Vicky Evans

People with an intellectual disability are much more likely to be sexually violated and the violation is less likely to be reported. Despite this being high-lighted at…

Abstract

Purpose

People with an intellectual disability are much more likely to be sexually violated and the violation is less likely to be reported. Despite this being high-lighted at least 3 decades ago and improvements in both safeguarding and national reporting processes, under-reporting remains a problem. This paper explored under-reporting alongside prevention possibilities using safeguarding alerts raised in a Community Learning Disability Team within a UK NHS trust.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a combination of authentic but anonymised case vignettes and descriptive data drawn from the safeguarding team, under-reporting was examined through the lens of an ecological model. Safeguarding alerts raised in a particular year were compared with the number expected if all (estimated) cases of abuse were disclosed and reported.

Findings

Only 4.4 per cent of expected abuse cases were reported to the team, which is lower than the reporting level the authors had expected from the literature. There is evidence in the literature of the under-reporting of sexual assault for all kinds of people. Arguably, the implications of under-reporting for PwID are even more traumatic.

Research limitations/implications

Constraints included the lack of standardisation in data collection within the statutory services that report to the Birmingham Safeguarding Adults Board. One key recommendation is that the national provider of data for the NHS in the UK requires more complex and standardised audit information that would allow each local authority to benchmark their practice against a higher protection standard. Another recommendation is that compliance to quality standards sits within a comprehensive strategy.

Originality/value

This paper explored the extent to which the previously documented under-reporting concern remains an issue. Certainly eye-balling safeguarding compliance data in the NHS organisation we worked in led us to a concern that reporting might be even lower than implied in the literature. This together with a renewed spot-light on sexual violence (e.g, NHS England, 2018) led us to decide that it was timely to re-examine the problem.

Details

The Journal of Adult Protection, vol. 22 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1466-8203

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Article
Publication date: 12 January 2015

Nadia Marie Wager

The purpose of this paper is to examine adult survivors’ of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) retrospective reflections on their motives for not disclosing their abuse. The aim…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine adult survivors’ of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) retrospective reflections on their motives for not disclosing their abuse. The aim was to identify factors that might facilitate early disclosure in order to both enhance the future safety of young people who have experienced sexual victimisation and to offer a means of reducing the numbers of future victims.

Design/methodology/approach

This was a retrospective web-based, mixed-methods survey which was completed by 183 adult survivors of CSA. The data presented here is in relation to answers offered in response to an open-ended question which were thematically analysed.

Findings

In all, 75 per cent of the survivors of CSA indicated that they had not told anyone of the abuse whilst they were a child. Analysis of the responses revealed five barriers to disclosure which included: a lack of opportunity, normality/ambiguity of the situation, embarrassment, concern for others and a sense of hopelessness. Additionally, some respondents highlighted implicit attempts to disclose and others reported later regret over non-disclosure.

Practical implications

A timely disclosure of CSA, which is appropriately responded to, has the potential to reduce the risk for subsequent sexual exploitation/revictimisation, and to foreshorten the predations of offenders. To achieve this, responsible and trusted adults in the lives of children need to learn how to invite a genuine disclosure of CSA.

Originality/value

This paper offers practical suggestions for parents and teachers on what signs indicate that an invitation might be warranted and for creating the right context for their invitation to be accepted.

Details

Safer Communities, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-8043

Keywords

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