Trauma victim behavior

Closing Arguments Examples: Kick-Ass Closing Arguments Part 1: Closing Argument Template

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–“Rape Trauma Syndrome” – not in DSM IV-R, but recognized widely; U.S. v. Houser,
36 M.J. 392 (CMA 1993) : extensive explanation of “stages” of “rape trauma model”;
expert need not meet or treat victim; use the cases as precedent, but avoid the label “rape
trauma syndrome,” because this phrase is easily attacked;

— counter-normative behavior : (“counter-intuitive” behavior); congruence with issues in rape trauma syndrome, but without the label; many different professions can testify from experience w/ victims; need not meet or treat victim; a better way to explain victim behavior than rape trauma syndrome;

— PTSD : many victims meet diagnosis; BUT many do not: DSM IV-R is vria, a useful listing of victim reactions to trauma;

— explain delay – this is more common than not; self-blame, concern others will not
believe, or will not act, or will protect the assailant; concern about repercussions with
mutual friends of victim & offender (including in the military unit); not wanting to ruin
“friend’s” life; shame in society; being labeled as promiscuous;

— explain inconsistency, explain newly remembered details

–who can testify to trauma behavior?:

–ER social worker – victim behavior (disjointed, incomplete account of things,
remembering omitted details, reluctance to discuss, flat affect, all counter-normative
behavior is typical of victim of trauma); cannot testify victim is trauma victim, but argue
that consistency leads to no other conclusion; avoids attack on “special interest in sex

12 Find the TCAP direct here:

13 United States v. Lukashov, No. 10-30348, 9th Cir. 2012;

crimes” for sexual assault counselors, SANEs, etc.; panel members know trauma, even if

they do not think of sexual assault in same category; better if opinion NOT based on
particular victim;

— Psychologists/psychiatrists : see U.S. v. Houser, supra; may also testify re: PTSD; can
be non-treating expert re: rape trauma; PTSD diagnosis needs treatment of this victim;

— police officer with experience in sexual assault

— rape crisis counselor with hundreds of experiences

— rape crisis workers, counselors, administrators; be sure they know both experience &
theory, or teach them; subject to bias claim, but have lots of experience, may have
academic knowledge;

— SANE: treatment, medical hearsay witness; can be expert on victim behavior; may
confuse roles; if treated victim, cross-exam re: actions of this victim can be bad for
government, good for DC; suggest using neutral, non-treating behaviors expert;

Military Sexual Assault Defenses: Mistake of Fact Explained by a Military Defense Lawyer

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