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Fact-Finding in Civil Domestic Violence Cases: Secondary Traumatic Stress and the Need for Compassionate Witnesses

Freedman, Ann E
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law. 11: 567.

Ann Freedman highlights in this paper what she sees as two striking features of domestic violence law and practice. The first is the troubling inadequacy of fact-finding resources in civil domestic violence proceedings, particularly in cases involving children. The second is the high proportion of civil domestic violence cases that are murky and difficult, in part as a result of the wide variety of life circumstances, patterns of behavior, and needs for social support and legal intervention. This wide variety makes each case particularly unique and intensifies the challenges in gathering, presenting, and sifting evidence. With all of this in mind, Freedman examines what she considers to be critical factors in understanding both the fact-finding gap and its relative obscurity in domestic violence discourse: namely, the largely unacknowledged problem of secondary traumatic stress; and a lack of interdisciplinary collaboration in addressing this problem.


AbstractCourtsDomestic ViolenceFamiliesPolicePolicyRJ OfficeStatutes and LegislationTeachers and Students
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