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9 Just. Sys. J. 52 (1984)
The Trauma of Rape and the Criminal Justice System

handle is hein.journals/jusj9 and id is 54 raw text is: THE TRAUMA OF RAPE AND
Criminal justice system practitioners have only recently become aware of the
impact of crime on its victims and how insensitive responses by law enforcement,
prosecutional, and judicial officials may compound the trauma. This article de-
scribes research on reaction and recovery patterns in rape victims, provides an
explanation of the trauma reaction that most frequently occurs, and discusses impli-
cations for the criminal justice system. Finally, recommendations for the protection
of rights of victims are presented.
Victims of crime have traditionally been considered to be no more than
evidence who, all too often, ruined a perfectly good case for prosecution by
being uncooperative, too afraid, or bothersome with their requests for
information or assistance. It has only been within the past few years that
criminal justice officials have begun to consider the impact of crime and
the criminal justice system on the victims. Criminal justice practitioners
are now realizing that the rights and fair treatment of victims can be
enhanced without compromising the rights of the defendants.
The purpose of this article is to examine data regarding the psychologi-
cal impact of victimization, in particular the trauma of rape. Recent re-
search indicates that rape victims are affected for longer periods of time
than originally believed. A cognitive-behavioral theory of victim reactions
will be presented to explain these findings. The article will also consider
how involvement in the criminal justice system might affect the victim's
trauma and recovery. Finally, recent recommendations for judges, police,
and attorneys regarding the fair treatment of victims will be discussed.
Review of Recent Studies
Similar to the criminal justice system practitioners, psychologists have
ignored the trauma of crime victims until very recently. Even now the
greatest amount of research on victimization concerns victims of rape with
almost no attention being paid to victims of other types of crime. Neverthe-
less, the literature on sexual assault has provided important information
*Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Missouri-St. Louis.
THE JUSTICE SYSTEM JOURNAL, Volume 9, Number 1 (1984)

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