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Understanding the Neurobiology of Sexual Assault

Date Published
September 2, 2013

NIJ-grantee Rebecca Campbell is using research on the neurobiology of sexual assault – such as the effect of trauma on memory – to inform law enforcement officer training.

For example, victims of trauma may behave erratically or find that they can recall events correctly but that the information comes to them slowly and in fragments. A law enforcement officer can improve the quality of victims' statements and evidence for investigations by allowing victims to tell their stories at their own pace and accepting that the story is likely to emerge in fits and starts. Rushing the victim or deeming the story "sketchy" or unreliable is less effective in gathering the facts and increasing the victim's willingness to cooperate.  

SANE nurses, emergency room nurses, physicians or others who encounter victims in a medical context might benefit similarly from this information about how the human brain processes trauma.

Watch an interview with Dr. Rebecca Campbell on the Neurobiology of Sexual Assault.

Date Published: September 2, 2013