Sexual abuse is far more prevalent in cases involving other
forms of intimate partner violence than
is generally recognized. Recent research with battered women reveals that intimate
partner sexual abuse is a hidden but frequent
aspect of family violence with significant
implications for the courts.
The term "intimate partner sexual abuse" encompasses a continuum of
behaviors ranging from verbal degradation relating to sexuality to felony-level
sexual abuse and torture. Cases involving this type of abuse present specific
and complex challenges for the judiciary, beyond the overarching goal of protecting victims and their children while ensuring due process for the
accused. Intimate partner sexual abuse
is an important factor in risk assessment; in decision-making in civil, criminal, family,
juvenile and probate cases; and in custody and visitation determinations. Thus, it is important for the justice
system to have strategies that encourage victims to disclose such abuse and
resources for effective offender dispositions and management.
This website provides current interdisciplinary research from law, medicine and the social sciences that
is applicable to judicial decision-making and case management.
The site can be treated as a course or as a resource to be consulted as needed.
The research and cases cited throughout this course contain graphic descriptions
of sexual and physical violence and may be extremely disturbing.