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3 Can. J. Women & L. 531 (1989-1990)
Rape Trauma Syndrome: An Evidentiary Tool

handle is hein.journals/cajwol3 and id is 559 raw text is: Vol. 3


Rape Trauma Syndrome:
An Evidentiary Tool
© 1989 by Anne Marie Delorey
Lors des procbs intentbs pour cause d'agression sexuelle, qui est une infraction
criminelle, on tient rarement compte de l'exp&ience desfemmes. La mythologie sur la
sexualit desfemmes et la violence contre lesfemmes abonde lors des procks pour
viol. La preuve de traumatisme consbcutif au viol a &t utiliske devant bien des
tribunaux aux Etats-Unis afin de refuter cette mythologie et prouver le
non-consentement 6 l'acte sexuel. L'auteurefait un examen du droit am&icain et une
analyse fiministe de l'utilisation possible devant les tribunaux canadiens de la
preuve de traumatisme cons&utif au viol.
In the prosecution of the criminal offence of sexual assault, account is rarely taken of
women's experience. Mythology about women's sexuality and violence against
women abounds in the judicial processing of rape complaints. Evidence of Rape
Trauma Syndrome has been used in many United States courts to refute this
mythology, and to prove the element of non-consent to intercourse. The author
provides a review of the United States law and a feminist analysis of the possible use
of Rape Trauma Syndrome evidence in Canadian courts.
Women who choose to prosecute criminally men who have sexually assaulted
them must prove that they did not consent to the act.I To do this, they must
also challenge the beliefs held about rape by police officers,2 prosecutors,3
Much credit must be extended to Elizabeth A. Sheehy who has been a teacher, sister, and
friend - pushing me to write, to write well, and, most importantly, to think. This paper would not
have been possible without her work and support.
1. Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, s. 265.
2. Rita Gunn and Candice Minch, Sexual Assault: The Dilemma of Disclosure, The Question of
Conviction (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1988), 54-59. In some cases which were
terminated by police as being unfounded, the authors quote the following reasons given by
police: She had been in the suite for a period of about four or five hours and it is doubtful that
any victim would be attractive enough for an assailant to wait for that period of time. Ibid., 57;
I found her to be extremely composed and rational. She did not show any of the usual
emotional trauma one would associate with being a rape victim. Ibid.
3. Gunn and Minch, Sexual Assault, 90, 94, 97.

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