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"Nobody Deserves This": Adolescent Sexual Assault Victims' Perceptions of Disbelief and Victim Blame From Police

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2016
21 pages
This study conducted qualitative interviews with 20 adolescent rape survivors in order to understand adolescents’ perceptions of their interactions with the police (specifically the messages the officers conveyed about the assault and the victims themselves).
Prior research reveals that many police engage in victim blaming, skeptical reactions to adult sexual assault survivors; however, little is known about adolescent survivors’ experiences with police. The current study found that adolescent sexual assault victims had positive perceptions of police when the adolescents perceived police behavior as an indication police believed their accounts of the offense, validating their decision to report, and refraining from judgment of their behavior. On the other hand, negative perceptions were associated with police behaviors that were viewed by adolescents as indications of skepticism, blame, or judgment. Specific behaviors that were associated with each of these themes are discussed. Interactions with the police influenced survivors’ emotional well-being and their hope for their case's success. Implications for improving interactions between police and adolescent sexual assault victims are discussed. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2016