Source: (2012) Harvard Journal of Law and Gender. 35(2):311-355.
This Article evaluates the potential use of “responsibility initiatives” in gender-based violence, with a specific focus on adult intimate partner violence. This Article analyzes the law’s role in furthering victims’ recovery from the trauma caused by gender-based violence through promoting acceptance of responsibility by offenders.’ Perpetrators of abuse often minimize or outright deny their abuse when asked about it by family, friends, and even their victims. In cases of acquaintance sexual assault, this denial is often firmly rooted in offenders’ cognitive distortion, which leads them to believe their victim in fact consented. The denial of the victim’s experience of the assault as clearly unwanted causes unique and devastating trauma to victims, and yet the core of our criminal justice response to sex offenses facilitates this denial rather than acceptance of responsibility by offenders. In cases of partner violence, the underlying psychology is more simple and yet also more complex than in cases of acquaintance sexual assault. Nonetheless, this process of unmaking the past is central to the dynamics of many violent intimate relationships: it insulates the batterer’s conduct from outside criticism and intervention, creates a liar out of the victim, and ultimately can work its magic on the victim’s own memory of past abuse. (excerpt)
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